GAIM becomes pidgin, when Lawyers are only an issue

GAIM has been a linux (and later also on other platforms such as Windows) IM client for many years now. Started as a client for AIM and later evolved into a multi-protocol client. It has always been open-source, they never made a penny on it and was mostly driven by students using Linux. GAIM is probably the most successful open-source IM client. I am one of the many users that like the idea of a single client to connect to many networks.

It turns out that AOL has been threatening the GAIM developers for years because they did not like the idea that GAIM sounded so similar to AIM.
I don’t think that GAIM has ever been a threat for AOL and this is fight certainly goes does to simply brand protection and lawyers willing to do something to justify their work (and expenses). So now GAIM is not GAIM anymore and it’s pidgin and you know what? It does EXACTLY the same things it used to do when named GAIM. So why bother suing 3-4 students to get their tiny app name changed?

So welcome pidgin.

Betavine and GPL software

Vodafone’s Betavine has launched a serie of updates, including a section for the development of open-source, much like SourceForge.
To kick-start the site they have included some libraries that Vodafone is releasing as open-source. I am especially happy about the GPL release of the drivers for the Mobile Connect Card. It’s for linux at this time, but one of the big issue for non-Windows users and getting on internet while on the move has certainly been the lack of drivers for proprietary PCMCIA cards. I think that the raise of the USB modems for mobile networks is a sign that more and more customers wanted non-Windows support, now that the drivers for a PCMCIA card are available I expect developers to take it and extend it.

Good move, Vodafone.

Ideas for open-source and Software as a Service

Via Fabrizio Capobianco: “Rufo [Guerreschi] wrote a post on his blog about a model for the democratic control of telematic services. In a nutshell, he is trying to close the ASP loophole of GPL (v2 and v3…) with something quite more elaborate than a simple license.”

Here the full post from Fabrizio, Free Telematics and a enforcing open source SaaS, there’s also a link to Rufo’s blog and original posts.

GAIA Image Transcoder

A few weeks ago I had a nice lunch with two guys from Open Reply, Michele and Patrick. Reply is an italian IT company, very big. Open Reply is a division that is focused on open-source projects.
Our lunch has been a work-lunch, of course, and was centered around the idea of releasing some of their software as open-source.

GAIA Image Transcoder or GIT is a Java library to transcode images. The project was born as part of a bigger project to provide content in many different formats that would be suitable for the web, for WAP browser and more. It is an ambitious project built of a set of modules that allow them to produce the desired layouts.
GIT is part of that and is the part that takes care of reading an image in “any” format and produce, if needed, a new image suitable for the browser requesting the content.

The project is developed on top of standards and de-facto standards like JAI, Apache Commons Discovery and WURFL, of course.
Needless to say that WURFL is the source that is used to understand what size and format is supported by the browser.

What I really like about the release is that it’s a pure open-source project, licensed with the very permissive LGPL license, but has the big shoulders of a big IT company and you can see this by all the documentation and the comments in the source.
This is another good sign of how a company can take good inspiration from the open-source and try to give something back to the community.

Open Reply is not only looking for contributors, but also for comments, bug reports and suggestions of how to improve it. I think they have the best approach and a lot of openness to new ways of making business.
The project is hosted on sourceforge and the files can already be downloaded and tested.

Best wishes to this new product in the big family of the open-source and of WURFL.

Open-Source as in “work for free”?

It seems like I really can’t sleep tonight. Too many thoughts rambling in my mind and sleeping is probably the last thing I can do. I will try to tire myself until I fall asleep on this chair writing something here on the blog as I haven’t been really good at writing in the last few weeks.

Coming back to the subject of this post, a few weeks ago I was browsing and for some reason I stumbled upon Ari Jaaksi’s Blog, a Nokia guy that follows the development of the N800 among the other things. Specifically I read about the development on the N800 and Ari gave his Status Report regarding the available software. What strikes me is that the N800 is already on the market (and so was at the time of the article) and Nokia is asking people to do some open-source development to add software and features that were present in the N770, but that Nokia could not make work for the N800 in time for the launch.
I am a big supporter of how Nokia helps developers and I think they are the best in the mobile space, but honestly, this really seems to me like asking the open-source community to take over some development that Nokia could not or did not want to do.

I don’t think this is fair to the developers that will eventually do the work (if any). They are effectively working for free to give some more profit to Nokia. It’s an open call from Nokia to ask for free support.
One thing is to develop a software and open your API (and maybe eventually making some money out of this as Google does) another thing is to ask someone to do the work you did not want to do and also expect it to be free.

overview at open-source and business at 360°

I have been chatting quite often in the last few weeks with Roberto Galoppini. He also published a short interview we had.

I like his view to the open-source world and the comparisons he always makes with the “normal” way of doing business and how the open-source can be part of “making money”.

After barcamp in Rome he wrote this very good post that I’m happy to rely: Barcamp: “Free as in Business: lucrative coopetition”

Motorola open-source

I wanted to make this post about fifteen days ago, but then other things took over and this was left behind.

While doing my daily news-reading and “siteseeing”, I found a site that seems to mean that Motorola is into the open-source. Reading more deeply it is clear that they have open-sourced some parts of their J2ME implementation for mobile devices and the full software for some linux-based devices! offers a number of downloads. The most active, according to the published statistics are JSR’s in general and more specifically JSR 271 (Motorola ‘s JSR 271 implementation or the JCP JSR 271 specification).

Even more interestingly, there are links to access parts of device kernel, drivers and applications that are developed as open-source. You can access kernel and packages for the ROKR E2, A1200 or A780 and E680.
This is very cool.
The community is not very active also because it’s a very specific topic, but still it’s an initial effort. It’s incredible how much traction Linksys got after they released the full firmware of their WRT54g and later.

As a test I downloaded the firmware of the A780/E680, 72MB! It’s all RPM. There are many packages included and other packages are stored outside of the “firmware package”. It seems like there’s everything.

Why should I buy a greenphone, now that I have discovered this?
Hackers wanted to test these files and play around. announcement to the press.

Mobile Linux, ever taking off?

I was reading this not-so-new post on Mobile Open Source entitled Mobile Linux going up the stack with Trolltech Greensuite.

The Greensuite Initiative should ease the development of linux-based devices. This should speed-up the development and lower the costs. Fabrizio Capobianco is very confident that this is the way to go and that Linux will eventually win the race against Symbian and Microsoft.

I think this is a very optimistic view. I have been looking for a linux device to be successful for quite a few years now and all those devices have been selling very low numbers to a very tiny slice of the market (think of the Zaurus, so cool, but so little devices sold).
Seeing Linux become a player in this space would be really great, but I think that it needs a lot of money and the development costs of a mobile device, today, are still too high to open the doors to this. I am always amazed at how Apple could take freeBSD and Mach kernel and build such as great GUI on top of it, while the open-source community has been developing X11 and other Window managers for so many years with so little success.

I really hope that someone puts some serious money and development time on Linux for mobile devices and make it real. I am just not sure that this is the event (or initiative) that will change things drastically.

Motorola has launched quite a few devices running Linux, but actually the latest smartphone/PDA that was lunched with lots of commercials and hype is the Q and is Windows-based, not Linux.

Hiring from open-source

Reading Chris DiBona’s blog I found this interesting post on another blog.
Reduce the risk, hire from open source (Loud Thinking)

I think it makes some very interesting points.
Working on the WURFL project has taken a lot of my time, both working time and spare time. Sometimes most of my spare time and none of my working time.
I am sure this witnesses my passion into the project itself, programming and the mobile world.

Working in the WURFL project brought me some really interesting contacts, of course and hopefully this will be reflected in more opportunities in the future.
My current contract and the last 2 years of my working time have happened thanks to WURFL and the contacts that it generated.

Often the interview was really a few minutes and something like “We want to do this and that, can you do it?”.
Sometimes I was surprised by how quickly this happened and how people wasn’t really much interested in my CV. I think this also confirms how CV’s can sometimes not mean much (both on the good and the bad side).
I wonder how could you understand if someone is good at programming or has good analisys qualities in a 30 minutes interview.