Friday, June 10, 2005

Interview with Google's Chris DiBona on Summer of Code

As soon as Google's Summer of Code project was announced, Groklaw member Marko Djukic suggested to me that we do an interview with Chris DiBona, who is now Open Source Programs Manager, at Google Inc., about the project, and Chris was gracious enough to say yes. Djukic is Core Developer for the Horde Project, a Summer of Code mentor

I threw in a couple of questions myself, because I really wanted to know the answers. Google intrigues me. I think it's the SCO effect. After two full years of immersing myself daily in SCOthink (Groklaw turned 3 on May 16), I can't help but be attracted to a company that affirmatively decides it doesn't want to be evil, and believes that it isn't necessary to be evil to be successful.

And they actually are successful. That is the beauty part.

Here's my favorite sentence in the interview with DiBona:

"Google uses a lot of open source. For instance, we run our web/server clusters on Linux, so whenever you visit Google, you're visiting a Linux machine."

Do you realize what that means? Yoo hoo. World. You are using Linux, most of you every single day, even if you didn't know it. How do you like it? Do you find it works out well for you? Do you think maybe Google knows something your business needs to know too?

Here are some companies that have taken the plunge to Linux who are happy they did, including E*Trade Financial and Citigroup. Here's an article on how to build a Linux virtual server. You know. Clusters. I believe Google knows the value of clusters. Here's the opening paragraph:

With the explosive growth of the Internet, the workload on servers providing Web, email, and media services has increased greatly. More and more sites are being challenged to keep up with the growing demands and are employing several techniques to avoid overloading their servers. Building a scalable server on a cluster of computers is one of the solutions that is being effectively put to use. With such a cluster, the increasing requests can be easily managed by simply adding one or more new servers to the existing cluster as required. In this article we will look at setting up one such scalable, network load-balancing server cluster using a virtual server via the Linux Virtual Server Project.

I couldn't resist. I have just spent several hours reading a smorgasbord of articles and apparently coordinated comments all over the Internet about Linux being killed off by Apple, blah blah, and other reasons why it is now doomed one way or another, and coincidentally, I'm sure, how great Microsoft is.

Let me be the first to tell you. There is no competition between Apple and GNU/Linux. I use both, and I enjoy both, but I could no more be satisfied with just my PowerBook than I could fly. I know that now for sure, because when I am travelling with just the PowerBook, I miss GNU/Linux so much. I'll tell you exactly what I miss. I miss the freedom and transparency, the feeling that you are flying your own plane, with no hidden stowaways calling home behind your back. I can never have that feeling in any other operating system, and that is the simple truth. Why? Because proprietary operating systems are deliberately opaque, like they have put up a big "Keep Out" sign to keep you from the inner workings.



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