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Systems Maintenance and Monitoring of FOSS to Reap Business Benefits

CJ Fearnley

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Top Stories by CJ Fearnley

Open Source Journal on Ulitzer The November 2009 issue of Communications of the ACM (CACM) has a very interesting article by Paul Stachour and David Collier-Brown entitled “You Don’t Know Jack About Software Maintenance”. The authors argue energetically for using versioned data structures and “continuous upgrading” to improve the state of the art of software maintenance. The piece got me thinking about FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and “continuous upgrading”. Here are seven observations on FOSS software maintenance that occurred to me as I reflected on the CACM article: FOSS projects “continuously” apply bug fixes and feature enhancements at no additional cost to their users. By applying these improvements “continuously”, the user reaps a steady stream of “interest payments” providing ever-improving security, performance, and functionality. Since FOSS incurs ... (more)

Given 250,000 Tools on the Shelf, How Do You Manage Them?

Although I haven’t seen a thoroughly researched study, I figure there must be at least 250,000 FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) tools available to every systems administrator on the planet (230,000 at SourceForge + 15,000 at Launchpad + 12,000 at CodePlex + 5,000 at Google Code and that doesn’t count the Linux kernel or any of the myriad other self-hosted projects). These 250,000+ resources comprise the full “toolbox” that admins can use for building solutions with FOSS; they represent the FOSS equivalent of COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf). Of course, if you add open source b... (more)

Beyond the Cloud

Last week I read a good article on cloud computing, Cloud ROI: A Grounded View.  It seems that even with all the hype (or because of it?) most are not “running blindly” to adopt “the cloud”.  I must admit the cloud metaphor has a powerful poetic charm to it.  That is probably why it has grabbed the attention of so many over the past few years. Everything in our world is ephemeral, so there is an aptness to the concept of a “cloud”. Moreover, I too like and use cloud analogies. But I am now looking for clearer skies!  Here is a short list of my gripes about "the cloud": What does “... (more)

A FOSS Perspective On Richard Schaeffer’s Three Tactics For Computer Security

Federal Computer Week published a great, succinct quote from Richard Schaeffer Jr., the NSA’s (National Security Agency) information assurance director, on three approaches that are effective in protecting systems from security attacks: We believe that if one institutes best practices, proper configurations [and] good network monitoring that a system ought to be able to withstand about 80 percent of the commonly known attack mechanisms against systems today, Schaeffer said in his testimony. You can actually harden your network environment to raise the bar such that the adversary has to ... (more)

Contributing to FOSS: A Business Perspective

Open Web Journal Last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting at the Central Pennsylvania Open Source Conference on the topic of Contributing to FOSS (slides available here). In the talk I explored the many ways individuals can get involved in FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), briefly covering everything from programming to artwork to documentation. As diverse as these contributions are, the common thread is close collaboration with the project itself. In particular, following the procedures in place for contributing to the project is essential. The talk also reviewed some... (more)