From the Editor: June 2005 - Other People's Problems
As long as there has been software, we've been facing the “buy or build” decision. But “build” became a last resort as packaged proprietary software offered better value. Today there's a third option, free and open-source software, or what Yochai Benkler called “commons-based peer production” in his paper “Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”.
Cooperating on software development is great, but most of the cost of software is maintenance. If you've been using Linux for a while, you probably have in-house versions of software that don't match the mainstream versions, and you're stuck maintaining it. Just as you have the “buy, build or peer-produce” decision, you have a decision to make about maintenance of code you'll need in the future. Maintain it yourself, sell a free software project on maintaining it or work with a support vendor—who probably will try to sell it to a project themselves.
Except for the little bit that gets value from being secret—the formula that decides which households receive a credit card offer, or the algorithm for making the aliens in the game attack you in a suitably compelling way—code is better and cheaper if you get someone else to maintain it for you. The ideal is to get an ongoing free software project to decide to do things your way. Glen Martin of open-source support company SpikeSource says they'll support fixes they make for customers as long as necessary, but “We don't want to continue maintaining them.” That means part of the business is selling changes to project maintainers.
Red Hat's Tim Burke makes the same point on page 70. Red Hat now makes it a priority to get kernel patches into the main tree, contentious as the process can be. If you don't want to use your powers of persuasion to manipulate the software ecosystem, some vendors will tell you to drop open source, give up control and just do it their way. But somewhere in the middle, between spending all your time playing open-source politics and giving up entirely, is the approach that's working for more and more companies. You might be happy with Red Hat's kernel, but get involved in Web reporting software yourself, for example.
Free databases are taking the same steps into business-critical roles that Linux did last century. Ludovic Marcotte has a promising answer to the database clustering problem that beats switching to a proprietary database or hacking up something that just works for your application. Get started with database replication on page 52.
ATA over Ethernet (AoE) storage hit the market recently, and when we saw the new driver in the kernel, we got Ed Cashin to explain how it. AoE goes with logical volume management like cookies and milk, as you'll see on page 24.
Selling projects on maintaining your code for you is such a powerful lever that we can expect to see more persuasion and sales skills included in future developer training. Whether you're buying, building or getting someone else to do it for you, enjoy the issue.
Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
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