Google is hostile to open source, open standards and no longer cool

Update:On 7 July Google announced the Google Toolbar for the Firefox browser on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This move should be applauded. Now for Google video.

For some time I have been watching Google with growing concern. When they came on the scene, I was a very early user. I thought it was cool that they used Linux and thought that perhaps they would be an open source supporter. With the release of Google Video I think there is now enough evidence to conclude they are hostile to open source.

Google’s (lack) of Open Source contributions

http://code.google.com/projects.html is a list of open source projects done by Google. 9 projects, none of which are well known to me. I personally maintain three projects and contribute to several others. My employer contributes to 150. I think Google’s project contributions are nothing more than a mild bit of PR designed to attract open source developers. But their efforts fall flat.

Google’s Use of Open Source

Google is perhaps the world’s largest user of Linux. They probably get more benefit out of open source than most companies. They use Python. They use Java. Java is not open source, but you do not need to pay for it.

Windows only here

I had a colleague who used IE when the rest of used Firefox. We asked why and he pointed out that one of his tools of trade was the Google toolbar. http://toolbar.google.com/googlebar.html. We tried an open source plugin which worked fine for me. That particular version was a frustrating install so he canned Firefox. He is still on IE.

Next we have Desktop Search. Windows only.

Then, we have hello, also Windows only.

Next, Google Earth, Windows only

Picasa, Windows only

And of course, finally Video, Windows only. What really hurts about this last one is that Google are using the open source VideoLan player. (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/) I have used this player for years on my Linux and Mac machines. VLC has binaries for every operating system out there. Google is Windows only.

The death of open standards

When Netscape came out I was a Windows only user. What struck me at the time was the support they offered for other OSes. In my case this made me think that perhaps the Internet era would be one of open standards. It largely has been. I have personally embraced open standards computing. For me Netscape was the example.

Google had, and maybe still as the opportunity, to continue that fine tradition. Many of the people that work at Google have personally made serious contributions to open source and open standards. However, by making a growing number of tools Windows only, Google is perpetuating proprietary standards and locking out alternative operating systems such as Linux and Mac OS X. If this continues it will become unviable to use these alternatives. Google, the world’s largest open source user, will become the largest open source killer. They will have succeeded where Microsoft failed.

Google is no longer cool, they are evil

Google has up to now been considered cool. Not anymore by me. And not anymore I suspect by a growing number of open source developers, Linux and Mac users. The founders love to go on about their ethics and their ‘Do not evil’ mantra. A bit like the Hippocratic oath of doctors: ‘Do no harm’. Well, unless they start supporting open standards they are doing evil.

What Google needs to do

Either:

  1. Release clients for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X for each product, or
  2. Work with the open source community to enable interested developers to do same

What you can do

There is a web site called Linux Appeal, where you can petition Google to support Linux for Google Video. See http://www.linuxappeal.net/petition.php?function=petition_read&petition=35

Too much spam

The levels of spam I receive have been growing in the last few months. Much of it comes from this blog. Last year my approach was to require commenters to be approved. An email would come to me and I would approve them, or not, if they were spam.

Lately the spam level has gotten so high that I am missing emails. On my Mac, the bayesian filter does a good job. On my Linux laptop, I just cannot seem to get Evolution’s spam filter to work. Beats me.

Anyway this weekend I declared war on spam. I have added Blacklist to my blog, deleted all spam comments and trackbacks, and I wait to see how that goes.

This post is partly to see how my spam filters go. Update: A page full of trackbacks… Turning off that feature. Try again.

Jpam 0.5 released – Linux, Solaris and Mac OS X supported

Jpam 0.5 released with source and binaries for Linux x86, Linux x86_64, Mac OS X and, new in this release, Solaris.

Jpam is the first general purpose, multi platform Java-PAM bridge. PAM, or Pluggable Authentication Modules, is a standard security architecture used on Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X and other Unix systems. JPAM permits the use of PAM authentication facilities by Java applications running on those platforms. These facilities include:

  1. account
  2. auth
  3. password
  4. session

Both the JAAS API and a direct method call API are supported.

Java developers, wary of writing native code, have relied on security schemes based on XML configuration files, JNDI and JDBC. With hardware token based security schemes this is not possible. JPAM allows seamless access to more than 70 PAM modules, including those for SecurId and Radius. All hardware token vendors release PAM modules for their products.

This is a stable release. JPAM has been now been used in production for more than five months and extensively tested on different platforms.

On Linux, this release has been tested on Red Hat AS 3 and 4, Fedora Core 3 and 4, SuSe Linux 9 and Novell Linux Desktop. On Mac OS X it has been tested on Mac OS X 10.4.1 Tiger. On Solaris it has been tested on Solaris 9.