Sunday, June 27, 2010

Did you know?

There are some of my overseas friends that are genuinely surprised when they visit my homeland Malaysia, to find that people are actually civilized, not swinging from tree to tree in loin cloths. To these people, with a sense of pride I even venture to tell them "We even have an healthy OpenSource movement !". That being said, this is not a posting about pride.

As I was driving back home I thought about the point of this post, what I wanted to say. I guess I just wanted to let my other Python and OpenSource audience or brothers on the other side of the globe know what is the state of acceptance of Python and other OpenSource technologies in most of the corporate sectors over here. I summarized this list after talking and being turned down by a few corporate companies recently for employment. Here goes ...

Did you know ...

  1. Most of the corporate customers, banking sectors, basically the people that matters still think that most of the OpenSource technologies such as Python, Ruby, MySQL is unsecure and reject it based on that? "unstable" is the word they use. PhP which runs probably the majority of the websites in the world is shunned for security reasons while they force their standards of using Java for all of their internal applications!
  2. While some banks accept that they cannot be a total island and reject OpenSource technologies, they require all components you use in a project to be listed down.  I don't know why, probably they want to scrutinize the list and make sure that everything is secure before accepting any "unstable" application. This vs. the fact that M$ Products all around that are used all around their establishment which do not even reveal any of the components used in their products!
  3. All of these guys complain about the fact that languages like Python should not be used based on the fact that it's not officially supported and at the same time accept Java? Ermmm .... I do hope that Oracle signed an agreement with Sun before buying it that it will never close down support for Java even if it gets unprofitable. 
  4. Almost all of the major financial institutions that I know of that reject OpenSource use products based on OpenSource such as F5, HP and Bluecoat to run their daily operations. Should I be afraid now?
It is my hope that since this blog has a audience of somewhat more than 3 people that the CEO or the decision makers of these institutions chance upon this blog and realize how flamingly stupid their decision for rejecting OpenSource based on these FUD is.  At least if you want to so damn secure then you should be fair and insists that all of your products such as M$ products reveal all of their components and source code so that you can audit it (If you really have so much resources to audit all of the things you use). When you succeed in doing that then the good thing is after that you can set up your own freaking software company. Come on, meet me half way here I would really like to believe that the people which I trust to take care of my money at least know their mouth from their asshole when it comes to the apps they are using to run their daily operations!

For No. 4, don't you think that since these Products use the same OpenSource tools that you rejected, that they would also be unstable or unsecure? When will you learn that it's not the tool you use that makes the app unstable, IT'S HOW YOU BUILD OR PROGRAM IT????? Then based on this logic all of those applications should be rejected too right? Why don't you?

After thinking about it for some time, I decided to start working with some local Universities to educate their students by offering my time to do small projects. I am meeting up with a lot of resistance but I am optimistic. Although my small ship is sailing alongside behemoths like M$ who sponsor everything from labs to the tissue our snot nosed university graduates use to wipe their nose with, the acceptance is growing. More of these students are and have heard about OpenSource technologies at least and a few of the major education institutions have started to accept OpenSource technologies.  

To change the whole apocalyptic outlook for being an "OpenSource consultant" now, fresh graduates will need jobs waiting for them. Show them that it pays to pick up this knowledge or study and they will. Now, the few misfits that dare to venture down the OpenSource hole, always have this unemployment cloud hanging over their heads when they graduate. Herein lies a problem. If this was to go right, these students who invest their time and energies needs jobs, good high paying jobs when they go out and dare to put the current deal breaker word "OpenSource" on their resumes. For that to happen, we need some MNCs out there to start realizing that the space between their ears would be better employed to think with instead of the hole where excrement comes out from.  I really hope that this slap on the face really lands on the right audience as I really hope that one day Malaysia too can come out of this intellect and choice stranglehold that some proprietary vendors think of putting us in.

I would like one day to be able to proudly exclaim "This app was built using OpenSource technologies" like the way it should be instead of having to hide behind generalizations or something out right lying.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mandriva pt 2

Another little thing that Mandriva paid attention to that makes me like it that much more. After reading the comments to the earlier post, I enabled the backports and installed chrome from the backports, checked the flash plugin out of the box and guess what? It just works!

Great job mandrivians! It's small touches like this that shows you care and make repeat customers (like me) as well as new ones! Btw, I am still trying out the multitude of guides on how to get flash working on Fedora 13 x64 without success.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moving to mandriva?!

Never thought I would be writing this, but I am actually considering moving my Linux boxes (based mainly in OpenSuSE and Fedoras) to Mandriva! During my hey days we always considered Mandrake (it's name then) something of a play distribution or a distribution for Linux beginners and should not be used for 'serious' work.

Fast forward about 10 years, after a name change I don't know why suddenly I felt an urge to pick up the latest version of Mandriva 2010 to give it the proverbial spin. After playing around with the bought version of Mandriva (yes I actually bought a copy!). I really started liking it. Let me just list down a few of the reasons why.

  1. There is a wealth of packages. I was not left wanting for any specific packages. Most of the packages I needed was there. 
  2. For a rpm based distribution the package manager is blindingly fast and contains a couple of things done right I wish was in zypper and yum. One of them being the ability to pass as an argument the bandwidth that is to be consumed by urmpi (their package manager) during updates or installation. This I found to be very useful in my old office who was sharing bandwidth with another company! They also do some smart things to speed things up during updates such as by default not downloading the description of patches unless needed (when clicked on)
  3. The network manager is cool. I like how Mandriva does their network manager. It's independant of the DE. For example, if I am logged into XFCE and wanted to move over to KDE or some other DE, and I am already connected wirelessly, after logging out and in, I am still connected because the network manager is separate from the DE. Oh! How I wish the other distros would do this simple little thing!
  4. Their look and feel is quite standard across all DEs and WMs. Now the one small bug in the ointment is that I found that LXDE, the new favorite new kid on the block does not work correctly.
I am trying my best to find fault with Mandriva 2010 and can find little (The 'little' here would be it does not have a package for chromium-browser!), so I am seriously considering moving over to Mandriva from what I am using now. Just downloaded the Free version and am thinking hard why should I be keeping Fedora 13 on my laptop now, though truth be told Fedora 13 does a lot of things right too and after the little debacle of getting flash-plugin working correctly is sitting happily on my X61 now. Ah ... decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Book review Django- Django E-Commerce by Jesse Legg

Folks at Packt sent me another book to review which is Django E-Commerce. Right off the bat I got some comments regarding how relevant this book might be with so many applications based on Django that do ecommerce floating out there.

For me though, I find this book is suited for those people who want to use Django building an Ecommerce site by using the tools provided by a default installation of Django. It also gives insight into how the ecommerce tools are built. It starts from the best place possible which is from a working example.

Each section is explained carefully from the overview to the technical implementation of the module. This is very useful and I learnt a thing or two reading most of the explanation here.

The payment process here employs the 'google checkout' processor to process the payment. What is covered here is also the use of one of Django 'secret sauce' which is views and each section and code is explained. The steps on how to lift a normal Django component to enterprise level functionality is explained starting from using the most basic way of implementation. This approach is taken in explaining the search module and it's great! I like it this way as it's a progression approach and programmers will learn why code and approaches evolve the way they do. Great way of learning! Here too the author explains and shows how to use some of the most famous Django plugins to achieve what we want to do.

Using Sphinx for an E-Commerce site is also used here and the value here is that the example can be easily expanded to create more complex examples or sites. Later in the reporting section integration to salesforce is shown. I really like this as these examples are practical examples that can be used to create a real E-Commerce site that works and avoid walking too much on the academic side of things. This is the main strength of this book. Amazon, JScript and a lot of other tools are also shown.

I will definitely be keeping this book handy on my book shelf for reference in building an E-Commerce app and I highly recommend it.

Check out the book here: