The Joy of OOXML
For most of us, file formats are right up there with printer drivers in terms of fun. Certainly, they're important, but not something you'd look to for excitement. And yet that is precisely what the battle between the OpenDocument Format and Microsoft's OOXML is providing. And I'm not just talking about the dry, intellectual excitement derived from comparing well-formed XML tags: this is a no holds barred, down-and-dirty mano a mano fight over the soul of document standards.
Some of this stuff is downright hilarious. For example, in Portugal neither Sun nor IBM was able to take part in a crucial national meeting to vote on whether OOXML should become an ISO standard; the reason?
The excuse for not letting them in, according to the notes, was that the room only could hold 20 people, and it was first come, first served. But when this was said, there were already more than 20 in the room. It eventually reached 25, so it seems clear there was room for Sun and IBM. There was an auditorium available they chose not to use.
Or try this one:
Previous reports from all over have indicated sudden, surprising surges of membership in National Body voting committees in multiple countries throughout the world (most recently in Sweden), and I have reported recently (here and here) that there has been a sudden surge of interest among ISO members in upgrading their privileges to "P" status, which will entitle to them (just in time) to a more influential vote on OOXML
When I first noted that I had heard concerns over upgrading at the global vote level,. only two nations had upgraded. When I wrote about it the second time, that number had risen to six. It's now only a few days later, and the number has risen to nine (bear in mind that the original number was only thirty). And there are still a few days left during which stealth countries, their votes already taken, can make the cut. Where will it all end? [Updated 8/29: The number is now forty - the most recent addition is Malta.]
None of this will surprise long-term observers of Microsoft: it's simply the way it plays. But irrespective of what you think of the morality of this kind of behaviour, there are number of interesting implications.
The first is that many more people are aware of the importance of file formats being open - something that few cared about a year ago. Microsoft has been unable to counter the line that openness here is good, and so has been forced to take the position that its own 6000-page file format is also open. This shows that Microsoft is having problems countering the openness meme, and has even been forced to play along. Although there is the danger that by doing so it will dilute the value of openness, it is clear from this that openness as a strategy is hard to beat.
The second point is that Microsoft's apparent willingness to use all and every means to get OOXML adopted as an ISO standard conveniently proves that there is no real grassroots desire for this. If there were, it wouldn't need to expend so much time and money on such methods.
These recent moves confirm that those boring old file formats really are interesting, at least in the case of documents (and probably elsewhere). There are various reasons for this, all of them bad news for Microsoft. One, obviously, is the continuing rise of ODF as a viable alternative. Another is the relative indifference of users to OOXML: Microsoft really needs its format to be recognised as an official ISO standard in order to provide Office users with an incentive to upgrade.
Finally - and perhaps most importantly - the sudden interest in file formats is an indication that cloud computing is beginning to make its presence felt. There can be no lock-in to particular desktop programs here, because there are no desktop programs (other than the browser, and fortunately Firefox has pretty much won the fight to keep Web standards open). Ultimately, file formats are not just important, they are the only thing that counts.
Glyn Moody writes about openness at opendotdotdot.
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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- Managing Linux Using Puppet
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- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Parsing an RSS News Feed with a Bash Script
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- Rogue Wave Software's Zend Server
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.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide