A blog about all things open

Firefox Home, Day One

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The response to Firefox Home for the iPhone in the first day has been incredible. Thanks to all of your amazing support, we’ve seen Firefox Home be among the top 10 most popular free apps for the iPhone.

We have paid close attention to all of your feedback so far and want to provide an update on what we are working on right now and what’s coming next.

We will quickly address a couple of issues that a small number of our users have reported. If you experience login issues, please visit this support article. If you experience data access issues, try this.

We plan to submit updates to the Apple App Store with fixes as we resolve them and you should see the updates as Apple approves them.

This is the first of many planned updates to Firefox Home. Based on your feedback and the support of our early testers, we will also work to add:

  1. Ability to sync your passwords to Firefox Home
  2. Two-way sync to share data between your desktop and iPhone or iPod Touch
  3. Firefox Home in more languages
  4. Ability to connect to your own custom server

Stay Connected and Get involved!

We want to hear your thoughts, feedback and ideas on Firefox Home.

If you have questions or need support, please visit our Firefox Home support site.

If you have any ideas about how we can make Firefox Home even better, let us know.

We are really excited by the possibilities that Firefox Home creates. Stay tuned for more!


Written by ragavan

July 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

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Weave at MozCamp Prague and Chile

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A couple of the weave developers will be at the upcoming MozCamps in Prague and Chile. Anant Narayanan will be giving a talk on weave during the Prague MozCamp. Dan Mills will be talking about weave and a bunch of other Mozilla Labs projects at the Chile MozCamp.

Two specific topics that we would really like to get your feedback on are:

– If you use weave sync on fennec, we want to know what works, what needs to be improved, ideas for features you’d like to see.

– If you are a Firefox add-on developer, we want to get your feedback/ideas on how weave can help sync add-ons. Add-on sync has been one of the most requested features and we have some initial thoughts on how to enable this. But, we would really like to get your thoughts on this at the formative stage.

If you haven’t given weave sync a try yet, now is a great time. We just released version 0.7 that includes major changes to improve sync reliability and performance for all users.

We hope to see you at these events.

Written by ragavan

October 1, 2009 at 9:12 am

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Quick thoughts on DataLiberation

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer Mozilla.

There was a lot of coverage today about Google’s DataLiberation project. The most informative ones I read were the Guardian article and Glyn Moody’s take on it.


DataLiberation.org (credit: Google)

I think this is a great first step towards ensuring user freedom in the clouds. As Glyn points out, it definitely raises the bar for other cloud providers.

Having said that, I do want to point out at least one other aspect to ponder when thinking about this announcement.

Personally, I think Data liberation (or data portability as it has been called formerly) applies as much to your data as it does to data about you. One of the big concerns about Google (and a number of other cloud computing players) is the amount of data they have compiled about you – online profiling, if you will. What sites you visit, what you buy, your likes and dislikes, your email – everything is mined, processed and used to improve your web experience (and to serve you ads).

So, while you may be able to liberate your data and move it to a different service, it is unclear what it means with regards to your online profile. I guess you could export your web history, but is that all Google knows about me? In fact, what does Google know about me? A related question that would be good to get clarification on is whether there is an option to permanently delete your data once you’ve exported it.

Is Google watching?

Is Google watching? (Source:webannoyances.com)

Another factor to consider is how you define what “your data” is. For example, if you look at it as just exporting your photos out of Picasa and importing them to flickr, I’d posit that’s a rather simplistic view. A large part of what makes your data useful and valuable is all the relationships associated with it. I share my photos with my friends and family, I license some under Creative Commons, I group them, I tag them – all of these make my data very context rich. How do you liberate this context? And if you do, what does it mean to import them elsewhere?

These are hard questions and I’m sure there are several more to ask. But these are the very questions that need to be answered as we move towards the people-centric web (or the you-centric web as some of us like to call it).

You-centric web (credit flickr:crystaleagle)

You-centric web (credit flickr:crystaleagle)

I want to conclude by saying I commend Google for acting on this important topic. I personally applaud the folks behind the project as it is not an easy task to go to every product team in your company and say, “hey, let’s make it really easy for our users to stop using this product.”  If nothing else it removes any excuse for data lock-in at the very basic levels for the various cloud providers out there.

Written by ragavan

September 14, 2009 at 8:10 pm

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While I like the ability to post more th…

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While I like the ability to post more than 140 characters with P2/Wordpress, I think I am going to miss the conversation that happens on Twitter.
All the people I’m interested in following are on twitter.
And the few that are interested in hearing what I have to say also follow me on twitter.
So, this becomes a completely new place where, at least for the time being, I feel like I am talking to myself.
Also, while the interface certainly lowers the barrier to blog (Hey, I’ve almost doubled the total posts here in a single day 🙂 ), it also makes me wonder if the chatty nature will make it harder to syndicate on Planet feeds, for example.

Written by ragavan

August 13, 2009 at 10:11 pm

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Kinda sad that I haven’t updated this b…

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Kinda sad that I haven’t updated this blog in a year (to the day). I have been active on twitter though, so that should count for something, right?
Now, if I can figure out a way to post here but also have it automatically tweet it, then I’ll be all set. 🙂

Written by ragavan

August 13, 2009 at 9:42 pm

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Guide to Participating in the Linux Community – a must read

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Earlier today, I finished reading the excellent article on How to participate in the Linux kernel community by Jon Corbet. I immediately forwarded it to a few people inside VMware who I know are going to appreciate the depth and breadth of information contained in this guide.

As I’ve mentioned before, we, as a company, are moving towards open source and development more and more each day. Our kernel modules are slowly but surely being released as open source software under the GPL v2. As Jon observes so astutely,

The kernel’s development process may come across as strange and intimidating to new developers, but there are good reasons and solid experience behind it. A developer who does not understand the kernel community’s ways (or, worse, who tries to flout or circumvent them) will have a frustrating experience in store. The development community, while being helpful to those who are trying to learn, has little time for those who will not listen or who do not care about the development process.

A big reason for such a reaction isn’t as much about wanting to openly flout the rules as much as not understanding why things are done in a certain way. Which brings me to the point of this post – the article left me wanting for more.

The article makes a strong case for upstreaming the Linux kernel modules. It says,

Code which has been merged into the mainline kernel is available to all Linux users. It will automatically be present on all distributions which enable it. There is no need for driver disks, downloads, or the hassles of supporting multiple versions of multiple distributions; it all just works, for the developer and for the user. Incorporation into the mainline solves a large number of distribution and support problems.

While this may be mostly true, it is not always the case. As someone that is living through this problem right now, there are a few other practical questions that come up, like:

  • How do you develop new features against the upstream kernel, and still make them available on older kernels that are shipping with various distributions? These are the kernels your customers are using and without an excellent relationship with the distro vendors, what are your options? DKMS? The driver back-porting workgroup?
  • What are your options if a distro vendor chooses not to enable your module/driver by default, for whatever reason? Are your customers going to be understanding if you explain to them this is not totally under your control?

I think a companion article, perhaps from a distro kernel maintainer, answering questions like the ones I mention above would go a long way towards providing a complete end-to-end story for organizations that want to do the right thing, but don’t know how.

I’ll end with a slight dig, aimed more at some of my friendly colleagues who think the Linux kernel development process is complex and convoluted – when was the last time you had this much insight into how the [windows|opensolaris|hp-ux|etc] kernel was developed and how *you* could influence its direction?

Written by ragavan

August 13, 2008 at 10:29 pm

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VMware joins The Linux Foundation

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As someone who is interested in getting VMware to participate more in the open source community, I see this announcement as another step in the right direction. Despite what the nay-sayers may say.

I strongly believe that Linux and open source software are very important to VMware. Can we be doing more in terms of participation and contribution? Absolutely. However, this is going to take time. The good news is that we are already starting to making targeted contributions. For example, as the announcement says:

“VMware’s participation in the Linux community includes the contribution of the Virtual Machine Interface (VMI), a paravirtualization interface as an open specification, and subsequent collaboration with the Linux kernel community and others in the development of a source-level paravirtualization interface (paravirt-ops) for the Linux kernel. In 2007, VMware announced the release of its Open Virtual Machine Tools, the open source implementation of VMware Tools, and the creation of the open-vm-tools project to enable community participation.”

Another intiative a few of us inside the company have been working on is to make sure we only ship linux kernel modules under the GPL v2. No more proprietary kernel modules. While this may currently not be the case, I have every belief that we will indeed make this happen.

In the meantime, if you have ideas/thoughts/suggestions on how we could become more involved with the open source community, feel free to leave a comment.

Written by ragavan

August 6, 2008 at 10:00 pm

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