Java UI framework Vaadin releases version 8

After a long period of development, Vaadin Ltd has released version 8 of the Vaadin Java UI framework with a slew of new features.  The most notable changes can be found in the data binding API of the framework.

Based on Java 8, the latest Vaadin 8 release takes advantage of lambda expressions introduced in Java 8 to make data binding much much expressive and easy.

For instance, in the past, one needed a Container interface implementation to pass objects to the Grid component thus

List persons = Backend.getPersons();
BeanItemContainer container =
new BeanItemContainer(Person.class, persons);
Grid grid = new Grid();
grid.setContainerDataSource(container);

now becomes

List persons = Backend.getPersons();
Grid grid = new Grid<>(Person.class);
grid.setItems(persons);

I am personally very excited about this release because hitherto one had to rely on Matti Tahvonen’s Viritin addon to overcome the very verbose databinding Vaadin APIs.

Another awesome feature is that Vaadin 8 will now support the browser history API, meaning much more cleaner and search engine friendly URLs. Continue reading “Java UI framework Vaadin releases version 8”

Of GNU/Linux, Hardliners and a clear case of double standards!

In an ideal world, we’d all be updating our statuses on Identi.ca via the terminal on Arch Linux, have text based web pages without Flash or any form of animation, hang anyone using Microsoft Windows, impose a fine on anyone who uses Twitter and make it a law for all students to take a full course in computer programming.

But in the real world, there is something called choice. Take a look at this thread over on Identi.ca that ensued because my very good @acurrie included Ubuntu as a hastag in an update to a post on his blog. All hell broke lose! I have followed with keen interest the recent brouhaha surrounding Canonical’s contribution to the upstream GNOME project. 

First of all, I was not impressed with Shuttleworth’s response to the whole upstream commits issue. He sounded more poetic than a technical guy to me on that post. Jono Bacon did a little better. That notwithstanding, the fact remains that there are millions of Linux (sorry GNU/Linux!) users out there that got exposed to the entire FOSS world via Ubuntu. That in itself is no small feat.

I also agree that Ubuntu is not synonymous with Linux, I am not aware if Canonical is seeking to achieve that goal anyway. However, what I seriously have a problem with is the needless and mostly very inflammatory comments that some hardliners make at the mere mention of the word Ubuntu. Is it not ironic and hypocritical to have people that claim they are saving others by giving them choices other than Windows get all worked up at the mention of one of the options available as part of the choice subset they offer?

Is it not hypocritical to be seen damning one distro (on purely philosphical basis) and actually getting worked up over people’s choice to use that distro? Where is the choice? Where is the freedom we so loudly proclaim in the FOSS world? There is Microsoft Windows, and there is Linux. Unless the entire FOSS world clearly defines its strategic goal of making Linux a viable choice for AVERAGE JOE and not Tom Geek, the 1-5% will eternally remain our lot.

How many of you will put your monies in investments for over 20 years that will yield returns of less than 10% and keep holding your monies there? Not everyone will be a geek, writing emails via the terminal, not all of us are interested. I for one am more interested in the financial/business aspect of FOSS than the technical/philosophical aspects.

And if you are like me and live in the real world with friends that only do Facebook, Twitter and Solitaire, you’d want something that works easily for you that you can convince THEM to give a try. Ubuntu does that for me, so I use it. Plain and simple. Sure my very good friend and co-author has a different take on Ubuntu, but he has never called me names or flamed me, not even in a jovial way for making my choice. He has given his reasons for his dislike of that distro, and most  of the time, I’ve had to agree with him based on FACTS he advances!

Linux is a great OS (yes it’s just the kernel I know) that has great potential, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the foreseeable future because there are just too many hardliners that divide their time between writing code and putting people off from using that code! There is absolutely no need to proclaim FOSS out loud if what we indulge in is mostly bickering at each other over philosophical differences and syntax that only makes Steve Ballmer’s day very worthwhile.

To advance GNU/Linux and FOSS in general, do away with the hardline, fundamentalist intolerance and understand that we are from different parts of the world, with different skillsets, interests and understandings trying to put in our small quota to make FOSS a viable alternative. If you have enough time after wrting code to damn something, spend it on trying to close the gap the Penguin will have to travel to catch up with the Windows!

[FOSS Friday] A roundup of FOSS stories you missed from across the web

With the end of the week, we take a look at interesting FOSS stories from around the web that you may have missed.
Ubuntu 10.04 vs Fedora 13
Linux User and Developer had this comparison of the latest releases from the Ubuntu and Fedora Projects. They write “whereas Canonical pursues OEM deals with Ubuntu LTS releases, Fedora has an approximate 13-month shelf life, after which the project consigns the release to the end-of-life bin.”  Continue reading.
Three Floppy based Linux distros
Motho ke motho ka botho takes a look at three Linux distros that can be run from floppy disks. He writes “I can vouch for two or three as possibilities though, if you’re working with hardware that is terrifically old, or extremely underpowered. Usually these are offered as solutions to machines with very, very little memory (4Mb or 8Mb) , and if that’s the case they will probably be lifesavers.” Continue reading.
An Auto Company Zips Along the Fast Lane with FOSS
Linux for U had this piece on how an auto company was using FOSS to realize cost benefits. He writes “the simplicity in managing the infrastructure, scalability and performance compatibility of the SAP business suite and HP ProLiant servers,  coupled with low cost solutions, led to the decision to go for open source technology.’ Continue reading 
15 minutes with an iPad.
Open Attitude had this article on his brief (15 min) experience with the latest tech craze from Apple, the iPad. He writes “as a glorified clipboard I don’t really see how it’s better than the Tablet PCs that have been on the market since 2002. Yes, they require the use of a stylus (gasp!), but they also have handwriting recognition — something else the iPad sorely needs.” Continue reading 
Women Who Tech in Open Source
Opentechdiva had this write up about sexism in the FOSS world, especially towards non-developers. She writes “I tend to agree with the NY Times article that some woman tend to migrate to the human side of IT. Not that we are here to be the mothers/nurturers of the team, but I chose to work with the end users of OSS instead of developing code” Continue reading 
Does the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Get the Web?
Glyn Moody over at Open had this piece on the T&C of the site of the Gates Foundation. He writes “unpicking the complex weft and weave of philanthropy and self-interest at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would require an entire book (and no, don’t worry, I won’t be writing it).” Continue reading
 

[FOSS SAT] A round up of FOSS stories you may have missed from across the web

As part of a new set of schedule we are rolling out on Ghabuntu, we present to you FOSS Friday, where we bring to you round up of Free and Open Source related stories from across the web that were exciting but you may have missed.
Microsoft, Education, Children and FOSS
Over at Techrights, @schestowitz takes an in depth look at how Microsoft is using the Gates Foundation to help solidify the the former’s push to get young minds saturated with more Windows gas.
He writes “this article goes beyond the issue of schooling and more into colonization of areas like Africa…there is nothing wrong with feeding people and helping education, but the way this is done here is self-enriching and self-serving” You can continue with his insightful and detailed post here.
Freedom vs. The Cloud Log
Over at H-Online, @glynmoddy (yes author of the Rebel Code) talks to Eben Moglen, who is a former counsel for the FSF about privacy, the cloud open source.
He begins “free software has won: practically all of the biggest and most exciting Web companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter run on it. But it is also in danger of losing, because those same services now represent a huge threat to our freedom as a result of the vast stores of information they hold about us, and the in-depth surveillance that implies.” You can continue reading here.
Over a hundred schools using open source in Finland 
Gijs Hillenius over at Osor.eu reports about the use of FOSS in over 100 Finnish schools.
 
He writes the School of Kasavuori in Kauniainen hosted a conference on its IT use last month. Next to using Ubuntu Linux, the school uses various open source web-based applications that are integrated with the school’s user database and other systems, such as Moodle and a wiki. You can read the full story here.

Going Green with Open Source: The West vs the rest of the World

Over at the Opentechexchange, @Opentechdiva takes a look at how advanced countries are contributing to the e-waste menace in developing parts of the world and what role FOSS has to play in mitigating it.
She writes “a combination of hype marketing by PC manufacturers, the fast churn of new components, and OS’s that require increasingly more resources lead to high consumer  purchasing.  As well, a lack of knowledge leads people to buy computers that have 10 times the resources they will ever need to simply web browse, send email or modify photos.” Continue reading here
Open Source: OpenOffice.org We Have a Problem
Gene of eComStation writes about problems he encountered in getting OO.org working on a client’s project. 
He writes “no, I am not a programmer and I do not have time to become one, so suggestions that I fix it myself are not welcome. This is true of the greater majority of software end-users.”  Continue reading here.
 

How to truly fuel the adoption of Open Source

A guest post by Ms. Darlene Parker from Opentechexchange. Ms Parker is actively involved in the spread of Linux over here on the African continent. She is an expert in FOSS deployment.

In a Sunday conversation with Luqman, we discussed what we thought were the best avenues for the adoption of Open Source on a larger scale. We agreed that students and small business could be key influencers in the future widespread use of FOSS.

Luqman had some great insights as to why Internet cafes would be ideal for exposing users to Ubuntu (or Linux). If 10 or 20 machines were installed with Ubuntu, and 100 people a day used the systems, what better way to have a hands on experience. Besides, the cafe owners should be over the moon about not having to re-format daily because of virus infections.

By exposing students to alternative computing solutions, this introduces them to OSS, one of the most influential development communities in ICT. Graduates will be telling future employers about the benefits of Open Source and programming ‘made at home’ solutions for unique business challenges.

To keep a narrow focus which states that employability is greater if students have MS office skills & the like, is hogwash. Given the potential savings for business in software licencing (pirating aside), this allows for the budget to create more positions. As well, so many large companies are utilizing open source in the background that there is plenty of opportunity if sought out.

On a final note, the fact that Open Source allows for adoption of local languages and content, this makes it all the more applicable and attractive to education. What better way to ensure the survival of local dialects and customs. We are a global village and all people have such unique contributions. I look forward to seeing many of them.

The next billion users are waiting, let’s show them the fantastic world of FOSS!

Open Source Schools- Helping schools turn to FOSS

Open Source Schools is a portal that aims at helping educational institutions adopt and deploy freely available FOSS applications. It “aims is to help you decide whether open source software might offer benefits for learning, teaching, engaging pupils and parents, managing information and resources, or school administration.
“We are building a community of people who have experience of open source software in schools, and those who are just getting started. There are a number of forums for you to share ideas and experiences and contribute to the debate about the use of open source software in schools.”
The site features some articles on various open source subjects and has a forum where you can share ideas about how FOSS can help take education to the next level. There is also a directory of FOSS softwares that are suitable for educational settings. There is also a page that has case studies of some real life schools that have gone FOSS and the attendant benefits it brought to them.
If you are in an educational institution and looking to migrate your setting to FOSS, then this portal is sure to come in handy especially the case studies that it has compiled.You can also go there to share your experiences of FOSS in education with the community there and the world at large.

What did Mark Shuttleworth say at Atlanta Linux Fest 2009?

I am just wondering what Mark Shuttleworth said at the Atlanta Linux Fest 2009 when he delivered his keynote address which has sparked a furore in some corners of the blogosphere.
He is alleged to have made some sexist remark about the  women which from the letter in the above link, did not go down with lots of people. I have searched for the transcript of his address but have not found it. I am just curious to know in which context he made that statement.
I am  one of those who have wondered out loud about the participation of women  in FOSS.  There is no doubt that more men are involved in FOSS than women. However, the contribution that women can make to FOSS can simply not be overemphasized.
It is in this regard that I humbly call on all the wonderful ladies out there who felt offended by Mark Shuttleworths comment to keep their cool and not take his personal remarks to mean that of men in general, for that is the impression I got from this blog post by Srlinux on Tuxmachines. 
Also, I would humbly implore that Mark’s comments are not taken as an excuse to initiate any form of boycott Ubuntu campaign for Ubuntu is way bigger than one individual and thus should not be made to suffer for his errors.
The future of FOSS depends a lot on the active participation of more women and comments that have the tendency to inflame  passions especially among women should be avoided especially by people of Mark’s caliber. To all the women out there, I say we really appreciate your involvement in the FOSS movement and are deeply sorry for any offense you might have taken in his remarks.

Free and Open Source Software, dogmatism and the real world.

One of the best things that ever happened to the world of computing was the advent of Free and Open Source software, whose fundamental objective was and is to give people the freedom that proprietary software never offers. This a very noble cause that has to be given all the necessary support it deserves.
However, there does not seem, at least from where I stand, to be any proper definition of who FOSS defines as its target audience. I arrived at this observation after reading lots of articles about how some big shots in the FOSS movement are fuming with rage about the supposed “pollution” of Open Source by some elements of proprietary inputs.  If I understand correctly – and please correct me if I am wrong- those who are being accused of this ” treason” do so for a reason that I totally agree with.
Chief among the culprits in this “crime” is Canonical’s Ubuntu for containing the controversial Mono. It is my understanding that the proprietary inputs are used to help make interoperability across the various platforms easy. There are people who, for one reason or the other cannot totally migrate to Linux or Open Source, and must live in both worlds. Making things easy for such people to be able to use FOSS in some part of their lives is a worthwhile effort.
Besides, these so called proprietary pollutants, have gone a long way to move Free and Open Source software to the masses and brought it to the lime light. In as much as I believe in the preservation of the pristine values of FOSS, I also think more must be taken into consideration rather than sticking too much with ideological dogma that in the long run will only be inimical to the growth of FOSS.
If the target user group of FOSS is those who are currently using proprietary software, who mostly just don’t care about any ideological or dogmatic beliefs and just want systems that work and help them accomplish their goals, then if including some elements of proprietary software in the various source codes of Open Source will help in accommodating the needs of such people, so be it.
Frankly, I think this dogmatic belief system is being taken too far, neglecting the reality on the ground, that people have different needs and those needs cannot not be satisfied by blind insistence on some dogma. Yes Open Source must preserve its fundamental principles, but not at the expense of the alienation of the very people it claims to have been founded to liberate.

Women- the missing factor in the Open Source equation.

Women, a very important constituent in every facet of life, are surprisingly missing in the Linux equation, or at least they seem so to me. Virtually all those that I am aware of in the Open Source world are men. Everybody I know on all the FOSS forums out there is a man. I am left wondering why it is so. Is it that Open Source is a male reserve or what? 
I strongly believe that women can make a very big, and I mean big impact in the quest to spread Open Source to all parts of the world. Seeing the strides women have made in all other facets of life, it is  little wonder that their apparent absence in the Open Source movement can really be felt.
It is my view that a conscientious effort be made to get more women involved in the Free Software movement. This, no doubt will help further the cause of the Movement. I am very  much eager to hear from any of the wonderful ladies out there who are involved in Open Source.