The Register Columnists

Phil Manchester

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed

Oracle substitutes previews for product

Exactly a year after releasing the first preview of version 11g of its JDeveloper Java integrated development environment (IDE), Oracle has quietly slipped out preview number four - yes, count 'em - four. But despite a significant number of updated and new features Oracle has still to reveal a date for the first full production …
Phil Manchester, 14 May 2008
Ubuntu teaser

Next Ubuntu LTS in 2010, unless Linuxes synchronize

Mark Shuttleworth, head of Canonical and founder of the Ubuntu project, has called on other Linux developers to synchronize releases of new versions of their distros. He also pledged to deliver the next Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu, version 10.4, in April 2010 - unless, of course, Red Hat, Novell and Debian decide …
Phil Manchester, 13 May 2008

Hippies reclaim summer of code

Google, the internet's number-one search and advertising engine, is a 19,000-person multinational that coins in $18bn in annual revenue. The giant is this summer hosting its codefest Google Summer of Code. At the other end of the scale is the little-known Riseup Labs. It, too, is offering a summer of code - Freedom Summer of …
Phil Manchester, 12 May 2008

Linux-guru's conviction fuels ReiserFS debate

Linux developer Hans Reiser's conviction for first-degree murder has re-ignited the debate about the future of Linux's various file systems. Prior to his arrest in 2006, Reiser was best known for devising the ReiserFS file system, which was included with several Linux distros. Reiser's contributions to open source are now being …
Phil Manchester, 01 May 2008
fingers pointing at man

SpringSource claims first 'proper' application server

SpringSource has picked up on the trend for modular servers with the planned beta release today of the SpringSource Application Platform, its Java application server. SpringSource chief executive Rod Johnson told Reg Dev the Spring Application Framework is the “first proper” Java application server product to appear for the …
Phil Manchester, 30 Apr 2008

Microsoft snags Google-thrashing data pioneer

Microsoft has recruited database guru David DeWitt to head up a new database research lab. Based at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where DeWitt was until recently professor of computing sciences, the new lab will focus on advanced data-management techniques. Working with Microsoft researchers based in Redmond, Washington …
Phil Manchester, 28 Apr 2008

Backlash starts against 'sexy' databases

The relational database - a mainstay of enterprise computing for 25 years - has been under siege. New approaches to data storage are threatening the RDBMS and precipitating what database guru Mike Stonebraker and others described recently as a "group grope" to find a new database engine. This week, though, could mark the …
Phil Manchester, 25 Apr 2008
Ubuntu teaser

Ubuntu launchpad for Affero?

The controversial Affero general public license could get an unexpected boost from Ubuntu developer Canonical. Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical's chief executive, has said AGPL is "a strong candidate" for the eventual open source release of Launchpad, Canonical's developer collaboration tool. The issue arose in a forum discussion …
Phil Manchester, 24 Apr 2008
Debian GNU/Linux

Delayed Debian developers get thumbs up

Incoming Debian developers who'd been waiting months for the official nod to join the project have finally been approved. The delay of up to four months provoked a storm of protest from frustrated Debian participants and even prompted questions over the Linux-based operating system's future. Incoming Debian Project Leader Steve …
Phil Manchester, 21 Apr 2008

Sun may shut off high-end MySQL features

Less than two months into Sun Microsystems' MySQL acquisition, Sun has succeeded in upsetting the grassroots types with plans to close off features to the community. It's emerged Sun may release extra data back-up features in the Enterprise Edition of the next version of MySQL, due in Q4, to paying enterprise subscribers only. …
Phil Manchester, 17 Apr 2008
Warning: slippery road

Google sneaks under standards radar

In stark contrast to Microsoft's recent battle, here and here, to get Open Office XML sanctioned as an international standard, Google has quietly pulled off a standardization coup for its XML-based KML geographic information language with barely a whisper of dissent. The Open Geospatial Consortium recently approved KML as an …
Phil Manchester, 16 Apr 2008
Debian GNU/Linux

Concerns build over Debian delays

Organizers of Debian are taking too long too approve new contributors and are threatening the future of the project according to some working on the open source initiative. Many Debian members are using the Planet Debian forum to express their dismay at delays of more than four months in approving new developers. The last new …
Phil Manchester, 16 Apr 2008

Google pays for Affero ban

Google's ban on projects licensed under the Affero GPL license has claimed its first victim. The ClipperZ online password manager has defected to rival code host SourceForge. ClipperZ said it was transferring from Google Code to SourceForge because it wanted to use AGPL. The AGPL-licensed Orangemesh open source dashboard server …
Phil Manchester, 11 Apr 2008

Intel builds software engine to shrink laptops and mobiles

Intel has given a glimpse of the software its building so mobile computers can detect and communicate with a variety of devices, reducing the size of machine you need to lug about. Lester Memmott, a senior architect in Intel's software pathfinding and innovation group, has revealed the existence of an experimental context-aware …
Phil Manchester, 10 Apr 2008

Stay focused on fuzzy tests, warn security experts

RSA The idea of throwing random test data at a program to see if it cracks has been around in one form or another since the beginning of software development. A formalized approach called fuzzing, based on Professor Barton Miller's work at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1980s, is undergoing a revival as a means of testing …
Phil Manchester, 07 Apr 2008

New code strategies to fight side-channel attack

Keyless entry systems are ubiquitous, from locking your car to accessing the restricted corridors of government and corporate power. It's therefore troubling to learn Wikipedia reading egg heads have cracked the encryption of a device widely used in a variety of keyless entry systems. There goes the girlfriend's VW, you thought …
Phil Manchester, 04 Apr 2008
Mobile Phone

Android alternative delivers partial Linux package

CTIA '08 The LiMo Foundation has announced the first version of its Linux based mobile alternative to Google's Android is "complete". Except that it isn't. Although release 1.0 - announced at CTIA in Las Vegas, Nevada - provides a basic mobile Linux platform, it comes with limitations. It includes C and C++ versions of the middleware …
Phil Manchester, 03 Apr 2008

Google hippie code trip delayed again

Google has - for a second year - delayed the cut-off for student applications to its programming fest, Google Summer of Code The deadline - originally slated for March 31 - has been pushed back to April 7 "to provide more time for students to submit their applications" according to Google's website. Google cited time-honored " …
Phil Manchester, 01 Apr 2008
Eclipse teaser (lrg)

Early calls to simplify Eclipse

Improved usability and integration with other integrated development environments are the first features being called for in response to a request for feedback on the future Eclipse. Detailed suggestions include improvements to scripting, better on-line documentation to help plug-in developers and the introduction of a value …
Phil Manchester, 31 Mar 2008

Cross industry AJAX group reaches IE 8 'consensus'

Microsoft's plans for security and cross-domain communications in Internet Explorer 8 have received qualified support from the cross industry OpenAjax Alliance. Members of the 100-plus group holding their regular monthly meeting apparently reached a "consensus (not unanimity)" on Microsoft's planned cross-domain request (XDR) …
Phil Manchester, 28 Mar 2008
triangular warning sign featuring exclamation mark

Open AJAX frameworks not fit for 'power users'

In a sudden about turn, analysts at Forrester Research have decided AJAX technology is not the best solution to rich Internet applications after all. In a report, Forrester has recommended businesses should resort to vendor-specific platforms such as Adobe Systems' AIR and Microsoft's Silverlight because AJAX can't deliver the …
Phil Manchester, 28 Mar 2008

Reality crashes Google hippie code fest

You've almost got to feel sorry for Google. It tries to do something cool with its annual Summer of Code program, but some sourpusses just have to spoil the idyllic 60's vibe. Google this month announced the 174 project organizations it is supporting in the 2008 GSOC. Inevitably, there were omissions and some disgruntled …
Phil Manchester, 27 Mar 2008
IE7 teaser 75

Dump IE 6 campaign runs afoul of dump IE 6 campaign

The anger and frustration normally associated with Internet Explorer tends to focus on specific areas: security, stability, and standards. But those feelings have now spilled over into efforts dedicated to "saving" developers from the aging IE version 6. Veteran developer Michael Hudin has accused a group calling itself …
Phil Manchester, 26 Mar 2008
Web 2.0

AJAX patent threat to giants under the hammer

A patent scheduled for sale next month in San Francisco could threaten some of the biggest players on the internet leading Web 2.0. Listed in Ocean Tomo's spring auction catalog as lot number seven, patent number 6,418,462: "Discloses methods allowing clients to perform tasks through a sideband communication channel, in addition …
Phil Manchester, 25 Mar 2008

Google warns third parties on GData mashups

When Google introduced the Google data APIs two years ago, it did not exactly rock the firmament like, say, other Google offerings. GData hit the news this month when Google ported YouTube's APIs to the format and released those APIs to the world by putting them with the rest of the GData portfolio. A range of Google …
Phil Manchester, 18 Mar 2008
Propeller cap

Uncovered: the lost humor of flowcharts

It's not easy to make software amusing, as a recent contest to crack jokes using Universal Modeling Language (UML) demonstrated. But flowcharting George Lucas' plan to kill off the Star Wars franchise? Now that's not just funny, it might also be true. A competition has invited geeks and practitioners to map out the …
Phil Manchester, 17 Mar 2008

Other languages key to Java's future

QCon 2008 It is not the Java language that's important - it is the platform that has grown around it. That's according to one veteran of architecture, design and distributed systems development now in the thick of training developers, who reckons the continued success of Java depends on its ability to adapt to modern development demands …
Phil Manchester, 14 Mar 2008

XP daddy: go incremental on design

QCon 2008 Age mellows us all and the co-inventor of extreme programming (XP) and an early Smalltalk advocate, Kent Beck, is apparently no exception. During his presentations at QCon this week Beck advocated the principle of taking "safe steps" in the evolution of a software design to ensure that technical risk is properly managed. Beck …
Phil Manchester, 14 Mar 2008
spring logo

Back to batch with Java

QCon 2008 SpringSource has talked up some early user experiences with its Spring Batch framework ahead of next week's launch. Dave Syer, one of Spring Batch's lead committers, said around 40 organizations are working with Spring's Java-based framework, which aims to replace aging mainframe batch applications written in Cobol. It works …
Phil Manchester, 12 Mar 2008
Eclipse teaser (lrg)

IBM shadow looms over next Eclipse

The question of whether IBM wields too much influence over Eclipse is again in the air, with Foundation members critical of the first steps towards the platform's next release. Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovich has responded to concerns over an apparent lack of diversity and of a railroading of technical decisions for …
Phil Manchester, 11 Mar 2008

Relax JCP and Java license process - Spring father

QCon 2008 preview Rod Johnson, chief executive of SpringSource, made his name both as a critic of bloated Java environments and as an advocate of a slimmed-down, pragmatic approach to Java-based development in enterprises. His experience as a consultant in the late 1990s prompted him to look at how Java had failed to deliver good results in …
Phil Manchester, 07 Mar 2008
thumbs down teaser 75

WaSP gives browsers 'fail' grade

Just when Microsoft thought it was on target with its forthcoming Internet Explorer 8 browser, the goalposts have moved. The Web Standards Project (WaSP) has released its latest browser standards compliance test - Acid 3 - and every browser that WaSP tested failed. IE 8 is, of course, not available for test yet. But given the …
Phil Manchester, 05 Mar 2008

Database spin on Sun's Python hires

Sun Microsystems has furthered its ambitions in open source development by hiring top Python developers Ted Leung and Frank Wierzbicki. Leung comes from the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) where he used Python to help build the Chandler personal information package. Wierzbicki comes from Red Hat where he became lead …
Phil Manchester, 04 Mar 2008

Linux goes Wii

Those enterprising folks at Game Cube Linux (GC Linux) claim to have developed a proof of concept version of Linux running natively on the best-selling Nintendo Wii games console. The software exploits the Twilight Hack, a quirk in some versions of the Zelda game that lets external software to be loaded without performing …
Phil Manchester, 27 Feb 2008
Recycle sign

Intel fills green software gap

Everyone agrees that green computing is a great idea. Well, everyone but software makers. Last month, OpenEco's Energy Camp 2008 focused on traditional environmental issues - such as sustainable energy - it also touched on the role of IT. Concern about the carbon emissions of power stations powering Second Life servers was …
Phil Manchester, 27 Feb 2008
Richard Stallman

Stallman steps back from Emacs

Richard Stallman, industry activist and founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has - once again - relinquished his role as maintainer of the phenomenally successful GNU Extensible, Customizable, Display Editor (Emacs). The news was slipped out on the Emacs developers' forum and Stallman explained his reasons in a later …
Phil Manchester, 26 Feb 2008

Apache daddy walks out on OpenSolaris

AMD and Microsoft should take note that open source strategies bring painful problems. Sun Microsystems knows this all too well. Just as Microsoft said it’s opening its APIs and AMD made its latest contribution to open source, controversy again bubbled up for Sun’s much-vaunted OpenSolaris project. Apache Server co-founder Roy …
Phil Manchester, 22 Feb 2008

Microsoft turns to Zune for mobile game edge

In the battle for gaming supremacy, Microsoft has finally deployed the big guns against the Playstation and Wii: Web 2.0 and the Zune. Microsoft game developer group chief Chris Satchell told the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California, his company is "democratising distribution" of Xbox Live games by …
Phil Manchester, 21 Feb 2008
Propeller cap

UML officially an unfunny matter

Contrary to popular opinion, programmers are not a dry and humourless bunch. What old mainframer can fail to chortle at seeing the graffiti legend "Data error rules, OC7"? No, software development is rife with humor, a fact that sometimes lands the authors of hidden jokers in hot water. There are some things, though, you can't …
Phil Manchester, 20 Feb 2008
triangular warning sign featuring exclamation mark

Time to rewrite DBMS, says Ingres founder

Database management systems (DBMS) are 20 years out of date and should be completely rewritten to reflect modern use of computers. That's according to a group of academics including DBMS pioneer Mike Stonebraker, Ingres founder and a Postgres architect taking his second controversial outing so far this year. Stonebraker upset …
Phil Manchester, 18 Feb 2008
fingers pointing at man

Bray recalls team XML

10th birthday interview In an industry characterized by cold logic and technology, the contributions of real people often get lost. Publicly, great things are seen to be achieved by impersonal corporations and institutions - rarely individuals. In an effort to put this right as far as XML is concerned, Tim Bray, Sun Microsystems' director of web …
Phil Manchester, 15 Feb 2008
Android logo

Google beats bugs from Android

Building on the momentum of the first demos of prototype Android handsets at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the internet's favorite search engine has released a new version of the Android software development kit (SDK). The upgrade - which includes an improved user interface and extended media support - had been widely …
Phil Manchester, 14 Feb 2008
mozilla foundation

Mozilla 2 promises big change

The beta 3 version of Firefox 3, released this week, will probably be the last version of the browser based on the original Mozilla platform, celebrating its tenth anniversary next week. Work is already underway on a revamp of Firefox's underlying platform - Mozilla. It was on February 23, 1998, that Netscape announced the …
Phil Manchester, 14 Feb 2008
Android logo

Wind River claims Android 'first'

Mobile World Congress The jockeying for dominance in mobile Linux developer platforms has taken a fresh twist with key announcements from two leading players arm wrestling for advantage. Mobile Linux vendor MontaVista said it has joined forces with mobile user interface developer Movial to offer a developer toolkit for mobile web applications. …
Phil Manchester, 12 Feb 2008
Trolltech teaser logo

Trolltech delivers Qt WebKit

Mobile World Congress Cross-platform tools specialist Trolltech has updated its popular Qt framework by integrating the WebKit browser engine. The move opens up the possibility of easy transfer of popular web applications such as Google Earth and iTunes to millions of mobile devices, particularly Nokia handsets that support WebKit. It also broadens …
Phil Manchester, 12 Feb 2008

Chip heads drive Linux mobile challenge

Back in the day, Microsoft was the new kid on the block when it came to mobile devices like PDAs, munching up Palm's market share and tweaking the interest of application providers already familiar with Windows and Microsoft's applications. Today, the descendants of Microsoft's Windows CE, Windows Mobile and Smartphone, are the …
Phil Manchester, 08 Feb 2008
BEA logo

mSA high for Oracle embedded strategy

It's a head-scratcher of a deal. Two big names in the same market with overlapping offerings. Surely the only justification for spending so much money is to buy customers to leapfrog the industry number one. No, I'm not talking of Microsoft's hostile bid for Yahoo!. I'm referring to Oracle's $8.5bn offer for Java middleware …
Phil Manchester, 08 Feb 2008
triangular warning sign featuring exclamation mark

Web pioneer hits critics with Lisp gauntlet

Maverick programmer and venture capitalist Paul Graham is challenging all comers to beat him after finally releasing a working version of his Lisp update – called Arc. Best known for his pioneering early 1990s work on web development and spam filters, Graham announced in 2001 he was working on an economic version of Lisp, one of …
Phil Manchester, 07 Feb 2008
The Register breaking news

Intel nets parellel programmer top picks

What's occupying the minds of developers in systems engineering? Scalable server technology and web development frameworks, according an Intel straw poll. Developers expect progress in both these areas according to Intel's pulse taking of 49 individuals on the company's Thread Building Blocks (TBB) site. Around 30 per cent of …
Phil Manchester, 06 Feb 2008
Eclipse teaser (lrg)

Eclipse giants squeeze into iPhone's leather pants

IBM and SAS Institute might not seem obvious sources of information for those interested in developing iPhone web applications, but - such is the appeal of Apple's little wonder and its perceived applicability to business users - that these hoary old giants are getting in on the act. SAS software engineer Adam Houghton has …
Phil Manchester, 05 Feb 2008