Open Source News Roundup

Linux

Dude, you’re getting a Dell! Well, maybe–if you’re an open source software developer. Looks like Dell took to heart feedback from the open source community, an began an experiment in which Ubuntu’s 12.04 operating system will be featured on a Dell’s XPS13 Ultrabook. Dell’s commitment to Ubuntu-loaded machines has been problematic—“spotty” is too generous a word since Dell doesn’t currently offer a pre-loaded system at its own Ubuntu page. (http://dell.com/ubuntu actually redirects to a generic Dell product page). A real commitment to Ubuntu as an operating system will take more than pre-loaded software, as Ars Technica notes; this exploratory project could be finally represent the beginning of something big in open source for commitment-phobic Dell.

Did you know that Google is a substantial supporter of open source software (OSS) with real skin in the game? By substantive we mean Google’s invested real money and resources invested in the propagation of OSS. Now in its eighth year, check out Google’s Summer of Code (SoC) program as an example of the company’s commitment. Google announced a record number of students have applied to work on OSS projects this summer, all of which are hosted on and partially sponsored through Google. There are 1212 students working with 180 mentoring companies, whose proposed projects include at least 24 Linux-projects. Students aren’t merely working for experience; they’ll receive a USD$5000 stipend if they have fulfilled the requirements of their project by the evaluation deadline in August.

Android

Former iPad-only personalized magazine app Flipboard is now available for Android smartphones. Check out the download info at ReadWriteWeb. Now that this app has been liberated from the walled Apple iGarden, will Flipboard for Android tablets be far behind? Or will some enterprising Android tablet devotee code something even better in the way of a magazine app (please hurry!)?

Other Open Source

Java: Open-source advocates should watch carefully the Oracle-Google fisticuffs over Java. Reporting has been muddy in covering this legal duke-out over Oracle’s claims that Google’s use of Java APIs in Android mobile applications violated licensing and copyrights. You’ll recall that Oracle acquired Java’s progenitor, Sun Microsystems, in 2009, including Java–but Java had already been released by Sun in 2007 under the GNU General Public License. This case could have widespread repercussions for any open source applications using Java APIs or released under GNU GPL. For in-depth, blow-by-blow coverage of Oracle v. Google, we check Groklaw. This case has a rather big reach in terms of numbers as roughly half of all new smartphones are shipped with Android; what’s really puzzling is Oracle’s aggressively adversarial position on APIs created with a GPL app since these same Android devices could represent growth opportunities for Oracle application sales. It’s ultimately all about the Benjamins, isn’t it?

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