CJ Fearnley

CJ Fearnley was an early leader in the adoption and implementation of Linux and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Philadelphia. In 1993, he recognized the emerging value of the Linux operating system. Through his leadership position in the Philadelphia Area Computer Society (PACS), he began introducing Linux to organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region. At PACS, he organized monthly presentations on Linux and FOSS and wrote 29 columns in the organization's print periodical, The Databus. He then founded and helped build Philadelphia's premiere Linux user group, the Philadelphia area Linux User Group (PLUG), where he continues to facilitate its first Wednesday meetings. After helping to establish a community and culture for Linux and FOSS in Philadelphia, CJ started building his first company, LinuxForce, to be the ``go-to'' firm for organizations wanting to realize the promise and power of Linux. LinuxForce is a leading technology services provider specializing in the development, implementation, management and support of Linux-based systems, with a particular expertise in Debian GNU/Linux. LinuxForce provides remote Linux systems management services to clients including The Franklin Institute Science Museum, and the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard. CJ is a member of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the Synergetics Collaborative (SNEC), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and the IEEE Technology Management Council. He received his BA in Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy from Binghamton University in 1989 where he was a Regents Scholar and has done graduate work at Drexel University. CJ was named to the Philadelphia Business Journal's 2006 ``40 Under 40'' list as one of the region's most accomplished young professionals.
CJ Fearnley was an early leader in the adoption and implementation of Linux and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Philadelphia. In 1993, he recognized the emerging value of the Linux operating system. Through his leadership position in the Philadelphia Area Computer Society (PACS), he began introducing Linux to organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region. At PACS, he organized monthly presentations on Linux and FOSS and wrote 29 columns in the organization's print periodical, The Databus. He then founded and helped build Philadelphia's premiere Linux user group, the Philadelphia area Linux User Group (PLUG), where he continues to facilitate its first Wednesday meetings. After helping to establish a community and culture for Linux and FOSS in Philadelphia, CJ started building his first company, LinuxForce, to be the ``go-to'' firm for organizations wanting to realize the promise and power of Linux. LinuxForce is a leading technology services provider specializing in the development, implementation, management and support of Linux-based systems, with a particular expertise in Debian GNU/Linux. LinuxForce provides remote Linux systems management services to clients including The Franklin Institute Science Museum, and the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard. CJ is a member of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the Synergetics Collaborative (SNEC), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and the IEEE Technology Management Council. He received his BA in Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy from Binghamton University in 1989 where he was a Regents Scholar and has done graduate work at Drexel University. CJ was named to the Philadelphia Business Journal's 2006 ``40 Under 40'' list as one of the region's most accomplished young professionals.

Customization, Upgradeability and Eternally Regenerative Software Administration

Mary Hayes Weier wrote an interesting article in this week’s edition of InformationWeek on "Alternative IT: CIOs are more receptive than ever to new software models". What is great about her article is how she captured the divergent views on IT models (such as SaaS, cloud computing, etc.) and gave nice vignettes of different organizations trying different parts of various models. I especially valued her use of cognitive dissonance to leave the reader thinking … better informed but without a firm conclusion.

There are so many parts of the article that I could blog about, but the one that touched the core of my thinking about “eternally regenerative software administration” was the quote by Bill Louv, CIO at GlaxoSmithKline, who said

"And here’s the rub: When you customize software, it’s difficult to implement future upgrades from the vendor"

Louv touched the very bane of eternally regenerative software administration! Software should accommodate both customization and upgradeability: these two elements of software administration are at the heart of my notion of eternally regenerative software administration: how to preserve customizations and provide smooth (near zero downtime with almost no glitches) upgrades through major release after major release. It is a big challenge, but in our experience the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) communities are at the leading edge in finding solutions to these conflicting objectives. Here are some of the innovative ideas from the FOSS world which should serve as models or design patterns for all software developers (if only these ideas would become commonplace!).

First, Debian (a FOSS operating system which is the root of Ubuntu, Knoppix, Xandros and many other Linux distributions) requires that their official packages, a collection of software prepared for easy administration, must adhere to a very mature policy. Debian’s policy is a marvel in the FOSS world and to a very large degree is responsible for its strong support for both customization and upgradeability. I think Debian’s reputation for stability and maintainability is almost certainly due to their decision to develop a consensus-driven policy that its software must implement.

For example, the Debian package maintainer, Luigi Gangitano, for Drupal, a FOSS content management platform, did a great job making the software both customizable and maintainable. The package supports configuration of multiple virtual hosts which can all be upgraded at once! And the Debian drupal6 package stores the look-n-feel in /etc/drupal/6/themes/ so that each site’s GUI can be customized without interfering with upgrades. If only all web applications were built to be as maintainable as Debian’s Drupal package!

Another example is the overlay support included in RT: Request Tracker, a FOSS ticket tracking system. This allows putting replacement subroutines in special files in /usr/local/share/ which overlay or substitute the upstream code. This approach is more likely to break on upgrades, but it supports minimal changes to the business logic with a decent chance that upgrades will be smooth.

There are countless more examples from the FOSS world of innovative solutions to inter-accommodate customization and upgrades in support of eternally regenerative software administration. What are some of your favorite examples?

Posted by CJ Fearnley in Debian, Eternally Regenerative Software Administration, 0 comments

Congratulations Elizabeth on your election to the Ubuntu Community Council

I was thrilled when I saw that Mark Shuttleworth announced the election of Elizabeth Krumbach to the Ubuntu Community Council. Here is my “open memo” of congratulations to Elizabeth:

Elizabeth, you earned this honor to serve through your competent and tireless efforts to positively contribute to FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) communities like Ubuntu and its upstream, Debian. Collectively, it is the work done in the FOSS communities that has built a “game changing” software infrastructure which already delivers business results to illions of organizations around the world … day in and day out. Thank you for all that you do by contributing to these vitally important communities!

The Ubuntu Community Council plays an important role in the management and development of the communities which not only build the Ubuntu operating system but also contribute to the FOSS communities that intersect with Ubuntu in so many ways. Your good judgement and broad experience on the workings (both socially and technically) of FOSS communities will help Ubuntu continue producing software to meet the needs of more and more individuals and organizations and thereby grow the whole FOSS ecosystem.

From working with you the past few years, I know you are ready to lead Ubuntu in support of reaching toward the lofty ideal of eternally regenerative software (ERS). ERS is an emergent property of the Debian GNU/Linux operating system (which Ubuntu has inherited) wherein all the component software is integrated to facilitate easy upgrades (re-generation) through each and every (eternally) major new release of the operating system. I eagerly look forward to seeing how your contributions to the Council will foster efforts to improve the integration and eternal regenerativity of free and open source software in support of providing business results to all the organizations that have so wisely chosen to use FOSS.

Posted by CJ Fearnley in News, Ubuntu, 2 comments

Introducing RemoteResponder.Net

If you know the history of LinuxForce, you know that we’ve been doing remote systems administration using FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) since our founding in 1995. And we’ve called our remote systems administration service Remote Responder for a long time too. But the website RemoteResponder.Net is new.

The new site is part of our educational initiative to explain the issues involved in administering FOSS-based IT infrastructures to achieve the promise of greater reliability and ever-improving functionality while keeping costs low and meeting an organizations’ ever-evolving business needs. Check out our new website RemoteResponder.Net and let us know what you think.

Posted by CJ Fearnley in News, 0 comments

Welcome to The Managing FOSS for Business Results Blog

Welcome to our new blog.

This blog is part of a new educational initiative to foster a deeper understanding of the capabilities and issues involved with administering FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) to deliver concrete business benefits. Although our subject will sometimes become technical, we will strive to address the business benefits at the beginning of each and every post. Therefore, we are confident that this blog will prove interesting and understandable to a broad variety of leaders, managers, and technicians.

We look forward to an engaging discussion in this blog as we explore the new possibilities available to organizations to manage their IT (Information Technology) architecture with FOSS! We hope you check in regularly or subscribe to our RSS feeds.

Posted by CJ Fearnley in News, 0 comments