Discovering RedHat Enterprise Linux

I am a Windows guy so when it comes to Linux, I am a complete newbie although I’ve been exposed to a few RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) version 5 x86_64 tasks related to Oracle database administration. I’ve played around with Ubuntu and Fedora but I find it hard to adapt since I’m so used to Windows environment. Earlier this month, I was invited to attend a free half a day RedHat Workshop conducted by ECS Pericomp. I’ve dealt a few software purchase with them and so far I’ve been satisfied with their level of service.

ECS Pericomp is located in Kota Damansara. I had to hustle the peak traffic jam, I am puzzled of why is it that during the fasting month of Ramadan, the road traffic are more congested than usual. Maybe I was driving on the wrong route. Anyway, I arrived there slightly late and the presentation started:

I must say that ECS ICT Berhad is quite big. They have a list of smaller companies within their own premises. My company is way smaller than them.

Mike Lai is the Technology Specialist at ECS Pericomp. I really admire his presentation style because I think he loves to share stuff instead of selling.

Some brief explanation about what Open Source is all about.

Some of the software development milestone related to RedHat.

Some of the tools and features of RHEL. Mike continued to share that a lot other organization clone the RedHat to become their own, one is example is the Oracle Linux where the OS are fine tune with Oracle products.

Now this is what the entire workshop is all about, “Virtualization”. I’ve been exposed to virtualization ever since the creation of Virtual PC. From there, I moved on to VirtualBox and read a little bit about VMWare. It is really an interesting topic to learn and implement. I have a couple of ideas I wanted to experiment since my company has its own small data center and the aging servers are really hard to manage. Now comes the best part, demo:

In the demo, Mike showed how he actually makes a live migration. The Virtual Machine (VM) used is Windows XP. He opened a text file and without saving it, created an exact copy of the VM and launches it. The exact opened text file appears sort of like a clone. Of course this is no surprise for people who have been familiar with Virtual PC such as myself. However, the web-based virtualization tool used reminded me of Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute EC2 I’ve been playing around 2 months ago.

As much as I marvel all this new cool technology, conveying the virtualization idea and practical issues is something to work on. Overall, this workshop benefited me well enough thanks to ECS.

Discovering The Open Source Issues Upclose

I am a heavy user of open source software for only ONE reason, it’s FREE! I don’t really mind if it there is a steep learning curve to it, as long as I don’t have to fork any money, I am willing to learn all how to utilize it. However, there are so many open source softwares available for download that you might get overwhelm if you like doing software testing like myself. One more thing is, I always have this question of how free is open source software? It’s one the question that has this vague answer if you are not the kind of person who likes to read fine prints.

A few weeks back, I was doing a research to get more information on an Autodesk product called MapGuide. The product is one of the component that can enhance the Computerised Facility Management System that my company is deploying. I was surprised to learn that there is now Mapguide Open Source. I then wondered, “Why am I seeing this trend of more and more commercial software being developed in open source?”.

Last July, I went to PHP Meet Up 3.0 and met Aizatto. From him I got to know the Free/Open Source Software Society Malaysia and from Aizatto’s blog feed, last Wednesday there was a meet up at OUM Angkasa Raya campus. The speaker was Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer from Sun Microsystems. I was surprised to see a person from a big corporate company came all the way down and give a talk to a small group of open source people here in Malaysia.

Unlike the recent Webmaster Gathering I went last month, the open source community is really different. I can understand that because normally developers are a bit reserved but are really well connected. Well, that is not what this post is all about. Here’s a few snapshots before I write about what the content of Sun’s FOSS Philosophy and Strategy is all about.

The Mesh Revolution
The Mesh Revolution
The software pattern
The software pattern

Mr Simon Phipps answered almost all my questions about open source softwares with his presentation. I have learned quite a number of new information that I might have never even think of before. One statement that is really interesting is that Gartner studies predicts 70% of commercial software by the year 2012 will be in open source. No wonder I’m seeing this trend is getting more obvious.

So where will the open source software will be heading? Mr Simon Phipps gave example of how Brazil is utilizing open source software to gain sovereignty in the country. Basically, the money spent on open source stays inside the country instead of going out to Microsoft or mainly the US. By keeping the money inside the country, the country benefits from skill development and resources. Apart from that, types of licenses such as the GPL, Gnome etc were also briefed and the way patterns in software development are created. Basically, an open source code is something that is given away freely but the provider is not responsible if anything happen. This might not interest corporate users as they need support whenever they have installed or developed a system for their use. Mainstream corporation is also making a move into the open source community, of course they have their own agenda.

The most interesting part I find is about the open source community roles. To summarize it, lets look at the diagram below:

Open Source Community Roles

Excitingly, the one that makes the most money is always the deployer developers. I do a lot of deploying and customizing so I tend to fall in that category. I however don’t make that much money yet but the opportunity is huge. There’s a whole lot of other stuff that Mr Simon Phipps presented all are which are related to the open source development. There are also stuff that I can’t really understand mainly because it were not related to me or its a whole different game plan.

In summary, the open source is definitely a fascinating world mainly because it is somehow free besides providing a level playing field. I love the idea of open source and will welcome and support its movement in the next coming years to come. Check out Mr Simon Phipps blog.