June 17, 2005 10:00 AM PDT
Week in review: Open source changing course
The LAMP stack of open-source software--which includes the Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database and scripting languages PHP, Perl or Python--is pushing its way into mainstream corporate computing.
Start-up ActiveGrid, one of several smaller companies betting on the LAMP stack, on Monday announced partnerships that could help expand LAMP's appeal among big companies. Partners include MySQL, Apache management provider Covalent, Linux company Novell and PHP tool maker Zend Technologies.
The efforts of companies such as these to make LAMP more of an industrial-strength package--combined with growing interest among corporate customers in open source--are making LAMP a more cohesive and competitive offering to Java and Microsoft's .Net products, analysts say.
That's got Microsoft, after toiling for years to make the company's software robust and worthy of large corporations' dollars, now facing a different challenge: fending off open-source alternatives that are good enough for most jobs.
In particular, the company is focused on improving its alternatives to the LAMP stack. To combat LAMP--and open source in general--Microsoft is focusing both on improving individual products and on designing a comprehensive Windows server suite to be cheaper to own in the long run.
This story got News.com readers talking--the article has drawn more than 40 comments so far, including one from Matt Lavallee, who said Microsoft needs to put "the rapid back in RAD" (rapid application development).
"Until they can get back to 'Edit a text file and hit refresh' responsiveness, LAMP will continue to gain momentum," he wrote.
In other open-source news, Sun Microsystems released Solaris as open-source software, a move that's central to the company's plan to regain lost relevance and fend off rivals Red Hat, IBM and Microsoft.
The company on Tuesday posted more than 5 million lines of source code for the heart of the operating system--its kernel and networking code--at the OpenSolaris Web site. However, some source code components, such as installation and some administration tools, will arrive later.
All the while, Sun has been guiding the spotlight away from a once-prominent feature of Solaris 10. The feature, code-named Janus and not yet released, lets Linux applications run on its Solaris operating system. Sun instead is emphasizing a related open-source alternative called Xen, which lets multiple operating systems run on the same computer.
Sun had touted Janus as a useful tool to help customers drop Linux in favor of Solaris, Sun's version of Unix. Sun offers the software to interested customers, but now expects customers that run Linux applications to be more interested in an ordinary version of Linux.
Xen will become significantly more powerful with an upcoming version that introduces multiprocessor support. The improvement should help Xen become useful for higher-end servers and measure up better against rival technology such as EMC's VMware.
Red Hat on Monday released Fedora Core 4, a free version of Linux the company is using to advance virtualization, programming tools and other software at the frontier of open-source development. Among other features, Fedora Core 4 comes with the Xen virtualization software. Additionally, the new Fedora was built using the new version 4 of GCC, the GNU Compiler Collection--tools that translate human-written source code into computer-readable binary instructions. GCC 4 brings a new framework that its advocates hope will lead to better performance.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has hired one of the key figures behind a popular distribution of Linux in order to educate its in-house developers about open source.
Daniel Robbins, the founder and former chief architect of the Gentoo project, began working for Microsoft in late May, according to a posting this week on the Gentoo Web site. According to Gentoo, Robbins is "helping Microsoft to understand open source and community-based projects."
Gentoo is a distribution of Linux that its developers say is fully customizable for any application or need. According to a recent Netcraft survey, the number of Web sites running Gentoo increased by almost 50 percent during the previous six months.
In a fix
Microsoft on Tuesday issued three "critical" patches for flaws that could allow a malicious attacker to take remote control of a computer. One fix deals with vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, while the others tackle problems with HTML Help and Server Message Block in the Windows operating system. The security bulletins were three of 10 released by the software giant as part of its monthly patch cycle.
Sun Microsystems has fixed a pair of security bugs in Java that could be exploited by attackers to take over computers running Windows, Linux and Solaris. The flaws are "highly critical," security monitoring
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