Should Microsoft Financially Support Open Source Projects?

A series of posts and questions on the CMS blogs are asking whether Microsoft should help finance the costs of open source projects. I have no opinion to give that would add value to this topic. However, I'm happy to give the rundown so far of the posts that speak the loudest regarding Microsoft and open source projects.

The thread of blog posts seems to originate with a post at Dave's Tech Shop. In that post, Dave talks about the need for Microsoft to better support open source projects. Dave's reasoning:

In my company's commercial application we depend upon DotNetNuke, Nant, log4net, NUnit and other open source tools. Those open source projects help support us. (In fact, without DNN, we would probably be out of business because our developments costs would be too high.) In turn, my company helps support Microsoft (because we purchase licenses and MSDN subscriptions). Yet Microsoft does not complete the circle by financially supporting any of those open source projects. NDoc stands out as an example.

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Work by day, Drupal by night

Last night, I was up late doing some administrative work for my sites as well as writing some posts. This was my attempt to procrastinate working on an osCommerce site that I promised someone would be done by the start of October.

One of those posts I made was Drupal related and available via an RSS feed for Planet Drupal to ingest. Unfortunately, I found that TinyMCE (a WYSIWYG editor) had changed my absolute links to relative links in the post. This caused references to links and images back to my site to not display properly for anyone aggregating from the RSS feed I provide. This particular issue with TinyMCE and associated Drupal module is not so much of a bug as it is a configuration issue that can easily be corrected.

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Proof spammers are no good

Screen shot of Akismet Filter in Wordpress 2.x

A few months ago, I posted that I use Akismet in both Drupal and Wordpress. Akismet is a spam filtering service that can be used in content management systems via plug-ins and modules. The Akismet plugin ships with Wordpress 2, but some setup is required.

While visiting my Wordpress site I noticed the specific number of comment spams the Akismet filter had caught so far and made sure I took a screenshot. The image below was taken by me and I assure you that no altering of the photo was done. I'll let you be the judge whether you agree that spam through site comments represent the evil the number shown implies.

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Wikipedia on ABC Nightline

As I was heading for bed, I just saw ABC's Nightline story on Wikipedia. Wikipedia uses the wiki application MediaWiki for its content management system. The Nightline story was as close to a fair and balance story on an IT subject you can find on a non-technical program. The story focused not so much on technology as it did the people of Wikipedia, mainly the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and the community of wiki users.

mojoPortal.com sports a new look

William Shatner as Denny CraneJust saw a post from Joe Audette that mojoPortal.com has a new look. A Jasmin Savard created the new theme (skin). We agree with Audette, the old theme was showing its age and we wish mojoPortal the best of luck on its new look.

mojoPortal is one of the few non-PHP CMS that we keep on our radar scope. mojoPortal is written in C# and runs under ASP.NET on Windows or under mono on Linux or Mac.

Evidently there is a hunger for an open source CMS with roots in Microsoft applications because we always draw a large crowd here when we mention mojoPortal. Mentioning mojoPortal here is a lot like mentioning "Denny Crane", William Shatner's character on the show Boston Legal.

osCommerce 3.0 to deliver new features

For the first time, an alpha version of osCommerce 3.0, an e-commerce application written in PHP, was released to the public for testing. While this third alpha was made available to the general public, the first two alpha releases were made only available to osCommerce's community sponsors.

According to osCommerce, the "alpha releases are made to showcase the new features being worked on and to generalize a version specific for testing to help fix and improve subsequent alpha releases for a final, stable, secure, and production ready 3.0 release".

Some of the new features that are made available in this release include:

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ISEdb: Is your Website Search Engine Friendly?

We all have seen our share of articles on how to make your site friendly to search engines, but this article is probably one of the best I've seen online. The article is written by Ross Dunn and is titled, "Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly? Your Personal Checklist":

The following is checklist designed to help you gauge the search engine friendliness of your website and, if you are in the midst of planning a website this checklist will help you avoid the common pitfalls of unfriendly designs. Complete Story

The article is a must read for those hoping to improve their rankings on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Packt Publishing: The top five content management systems

Packt Publishing announced the top five content management systems (CMS) nominated for their Open Source Content Management System Award. The top CMS eligible for the award in alphabetical order (not in order by most nominations) are:

The names of the top five public nominations will now be reviewed and judged by three industrial leaders and "a final fourth vote will come from the results of a public vote on www.PacktPub.com." The first place winner will be awarded $5000, the second place winner will get $3000 and third place winner will receive $2000. The judges on the panel include Scott Goodwin from the Open Source Collective, Lenz Grimmer from MySQL, and Nathan Gervais, Eclipse Foundation.

Version control: The CVS or Subversion question

I have been keeping an eye lately on two version control systems, Subversion (SVN) and Concurrent Versions System (CVS). My sudden interest in version control is due to a project team I'm on for my organization. The team is in the early phases of project management and needing to pick either CVS or SVN. At this time we are leaning toward SVN.

I'll admit, I have some hesitancy to commit to SVN. The reasons for my hesitancy likely has more to do with personal reasons and likely less organizational needs. Some of my favorite open source project, including Drupal, are still using CVS. I'm not sure we'll be using Drupal for this project, but there are bound to be some open source applications we end up using where the code is still stored on CVS. If the developers of the open source applications are using CVS, perhaps there is some validity in choosing CVS over SVN.

Headaches from security updates for Firefox and Thunderbird

Sigh...another round of security updates coming from the folks at Mozilla. It looks like version 1.5.0.7 will be at our doorsteps soon.  Now at home, updating Firefox and Thunderbird on the Windows PC is a snap since it is all automatic. However, updating in a secure enterprise environment is a different matter.

In most enterprises, most users don't have administrative privileges and without those rights Firefox and Thunderbird in most cases will not auto install the new version. What would really help is if Mozilla would provide their software in a MSI package. Until MSI packages are provided by Mozilla, it is difficult for me to accept Firefox and Thunderbird as "enterprise software". In a Windows Server 2003 environment, MSI packages are a must for easy deployment, management, and auditing.

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