This Week in Open Source News Apr 3 – Apr 9

LinuxWorld Expo was held this week in Boston, and it was the first LinuxWorld that I missed since before 2001. There are too many news stories and press releases to cover here (not to mention the fire in the Unisys booth!), but I will try to cover a sample of the most interesting news.

The Portland Project Evolves

OSDL’s Portland project announced the technology preview for a new set of common interfaces for the GNOME & KDE Linux Desktops that are intended to make it easier for software vendors to port applications to Linux. With no common interface, vendors currently need to port applications to both GNOME & KDE. OSDL hopes that this will help increase the number of applications that are available on Linux desktops.

Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL, also hopes that Microsoft will port Office to Linux when Linux on the desktop has achieved critical mass. “Cohen considers the move inevitable in the same way that Microsoft eventually opted to run Office on Apple Computer” (InfoWorld). It will be interesting to see if Microsoft ever supports Office on Linux. A few months ago, I might have laughed at this idea; however, the next story leads me to believe that this might be a possibility at some point in the future.

Microsoft Gets Cozy with Linux

No, hell has not frozen over and pigs still cannot fly; however, Microsoft has announced support for Linux with Virtual Server 2005 R2. Virtualization is becoming widely used in IT shops and hardware vendors are adding support for it in the hardware, and Microsoft seems to want to keep pace with other virtualization products like Xen and VMware.

Microsoft also launched a new website to showcase their open source efforts and their interoperability with Linux and Unix. Right now, it is mostly blogs from researchers in Microsoft’s Open Source Software labs, and it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

Sun and Open Source DRM

Open source and DRM do not seem like two concepts that should be in the same sentence; however, Sun thinks that it just might be crazy enough to work. The idea behind the open source DRM is that consumers can have a little more flexibility with how they can use their DRM content, while the media companies can still protect their content. Even Lawrence Lessig, who still believes in a DRM-free world, thinks that as far as DRMs go, Sun’s open source DRM is not too bad.

Norway Increases Use of Open Source Software

Every week, I try to highlight one example of a government or company embracing open source, and this week Norway announced that they will start using more open source software to reduce dependence on large, international companies like Microsoft.