Grassroots, open source, replicable 3-d printing: RepRap

I’ve been enjoying reading Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, Makers, which tracks the growth of a grassroots 3-d printing revolution in a post-GFC-like world. You can follow the novel in parts here.

A real life example is the RepRap movement. A group of people have come together to develop an open source 3-d printer that can replicate itself. Check out the video below:

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

Cloudera: Hadooping The Downturn

A group of Silicon Valley technologists are thumbing their noses at the down(turn)-talk and setting up a new venture to provide support to companies wanting to make use of Hadoop.

Bay-area based Cloudera will provide enterprise-level support for Apache’s top level, open source map reduce technology, which enables companies with large amounts of data to have significantly more detailed analysis and efficiencies related to this data.

The team includes Michael Olson, the former CEO of Sleepycat Software, makers of the open source embedded database engine Berkeley DB, which Oracle acquired in 2006.

Other founders include Jeff Hammerbacher, who led the data team at Facebook and Christophe Bisciglia, who created Google’s Academic Cloud Computing Initiative.

According to Venturebeat, the fourth founder, Amr Awadallah, is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Accel Partners – while this does not guarantee they will back Cloudera (ask former Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale – he was an EiR with them before they passed on funding Second Life), there is a good possibility they will tip into a round to get the company operational.

Elgg 1.0: Roll Your Own Social Network Releases

UK-based Curverider has released version 1.0 of their flagship open source social networking engine, Elgg.

There are two versions to the release – a full version that includes a number of pre-installed socnet features (bookmarks, blogs, messageboard, status etc) and a core version that allows anyone to build their own social network on top of it (think ‘layers in an onion’).

Version 1.0 comes after three years evolution of the codebase since Elgg was initially released in 2004 as vers. 0.1.

The guys at Curverider have emphasised design as a key factor in the build and they have also focused on user control as a key element. Co-founder and CTO, Ben Werdmuller, explains their thinking as follows:

Over the next few years, the explosion in niche social networks, and otherwise socially-enabled websites, will lead to new technologies that will allow you to federate your connections all over the Internet. This presents new opportunities for exciting new applications, but also opens new opportunities for your data to be abused. Therefore, you need to control exactly what is released, and to whom. That’s the core principle in Elgg.

Facebook To Choose Open Sourcing Its Platform As Next Move

TechCrunch posits that Facebook‘s next move is to open source its platform. This would be a bold move on their part. To enter the open source realm is no trivial matter for any company, especially when it is not already a deep rooted part of that company’s culture.

The big questions that arise:

* what open source license would Facebook choose to operate under

* what parts of their platform would be open source versus proprietary

* will they operate under a dual OS/pty model, like mySQL and Sleepycat

* what level of support would there be for adopters of the OS platform – a spec, reference implementation etc.

UPDATE: TechCrunch has been able to confirm that fbOpen, Facebook’s open source initiative will be announced shortly.

[Picture courtesy of Laughing Squid]

Open Source Gains Legitimacy: Sun Snaps MySQL


I’ve spent a good deal of time analysing the open source arena. First up I was instrumental in preparing an Australia-specific alternative open source license (the Trade Practices Act has some quirks that made this seem a prudent move), through to steering a spin out,  open source, virtualization company to fruition (Open Kernel Labs).

With OK Labs we delved deep into what works and what doesn’t in the open source arena, and much like with anything in life, the answer is that users don’t like surprises: if you intend them to pay for a version of your software at some stage be upfront about it.

We spoke with many of the key players in the open source arena and I have always been bullish that open source works as a business model. So it is especially satisfying to observe that MySQL, one of the shining lights of open source, has been acquired by Sun for $1 billion. Sun’s CEO, Jonathan Schwartz points out that Sun has been a big supporter of the open source model and that MySQL users will benefit from the support offerings they intend bringing to the MySQL marketplace.

In other open source news, London-based Openads has completed a $15.5 million Series B financing led by Accel Partners. The company has developed an open source ad server, which is currently used by more than 30,000 publishers, delivering billions of ads daily.

Commenting on the deal, Accel’s Andrew Braccia said, “The rapid growth of the global online advertising market requires the adoption of next generation infrastructure and services for publishers and advertisers alike.”

“Openads’ open source heritage and deep global publisher footprint make it uniquely positioned to play a pivotal role in the evolution of the digital media landscape.”

UPDATE: Facebook has released an animation library for its FBJS (a layer on top of Javascript that give the full power of Javascript in applications) under a modified BSD license. Neat stuff.