Ever since the Oracle acquisition of Sun, I had been on the fence on what to think about Oracle and its open source business. However when Oracle turned its back on the OpenSolaris Community and the OpenOffice community it immediately changed my mind on what I thought about Oracle. I abandoned all the projects they were supporting, I was a long time Netbeans user and I made the switch Eclipse. The day the Open Document Foundation released LibreOffice I switched.
There is still one Oracle project I still use that is Virtualbox. If I was exclusively a Linux user I would just be using KVM with Virt-Manager and I would be set but I also have a Mac and Windows Box that I like to run virtual machines on. I try to sick with OSS whenever I can but I have thought about buying VMware Workstation and Fusion but I don’t want to pay for either because Virtualbox does everything I need it to do.
So how about a fork of Virtualbox? Most of the code is under the GPL, I really think the community will support a fork of Virtualbox and I think it would be a better project without Oracle’s direction. If there was support from Red Hat or Canonical I’m sure this would have happened a long time ago but there are plenty of projects with out corporate support.
Why should it be forked? Oracle could shutdown that project like they did with OpenSolaris. Oracle’s history with Open Source should make everyone in the community that contributes to Virtualbox want to start over with a new project. I found one fork but I couldn’t find a link to the source or to the packages. The Project is called IceBox Virtual Machine by a company called Twisted Lincoln Inc. They also have their own Linux Distribution called Nexradix. I presume Icebox is in the repo’s for that distro (I haven’t installed it).
If some unknown company that is supporting an unknown Linux distribution can fork Virtualbox, the greater community should do it. Whether if that is supporting Icebox or creating a new one, it needs to happen and soon.
I have recently installed Windows 8 in a virtual machine and I have to say that it is one of the worst experiences I have had with a Microsoft product. Metro is not a mouse friendly environment, I can only see it working on multitouch tablets but on a regular desktop with just a mouse and keyboard forget it. Metro doesn’t seem to automatically categorize anything into groups it just ends up being a huge list of programs and if you have a lot of applications it will take you forever to find it if you just scroll through. As part of my experience with Windows 8 I installed Office 2010. After launching Microsoft Word it takes you out of Metro into the familiar Windows desktop but what if you need to launch another application? The start menu you will find is GONE. It is now a hidden icon and if you don’t know where the icon is you will be spending 5+ minutes looking for it. So if you are like my mother when she gets a Windows 8 computer it will frustrate her to no end when she goes looking for the start menu. It even frustrated me!
I don’t want to pass judgment on Windows 8 until the final product maybe Microsoft will offer the end user the option for a complete desktop mode with out Metro. As is Windows 8 is dead on arrival with the average consumer and many high tech consumers on the desktop. As a tablet OS I see where it could win over iOS and Android but Windows 8 is at least 2-4 years behind in most areas.
With corporations I don’t think they will make the switch from Windows 7 and there are many still on XP that don’t even want to switch to Windows 7. Those that haven’t made the switch to 7 I really do think those customers will look for alternative operating systems on the desktop or go BYOD (bring your own device). With advances in application virtualization you can run any legacy application on any system, this could end up being an opportunity for companies such as Red Hat or Canonical (Ubuntu) and possibly Apple to break into the desktop environment, in the case of Apple not just the tablet environment, in the corporate world.
I personally think that Chrome OS is the worst desktop/netbook operating system concept, well until Windows 8 but that is a different story. I personally don’t get why Chrome OS even exists with Android in the picture. The concept of Chrome OS that every application is now a web application and as Apple proved with the first iteration of the iPhone that is dead on arrival. Customers want feature rich apps that don’t necessarily need an internet connection and Chrome OS is basically internet connected web apps because all Chrome OS basically is a stripped down Linux OS with the Chrome Browser as the interface. Granted Google has made Docs, Gmail and Calendar offline for Chrome OS but everything else still requires an internet connection. Android does both feature rich local apps and utilizes the fantastic HTML 5 web application that Chrome OS utilizes. So why doesn’t Google just use Android as their one and only operating system? It works well on low end laptops and netbooks and it is starting to become a wonderful tablet OS.
We are now in the age that Apple calls the Post-PC era with devices like the iPad, iPhone and the endless range of Android devices which are out selling laptops and netbooks by leaps and bounds why invest any money in an operating system that really has no future in the consumer market?