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Yahoo Seeks Open Source Community Support 73

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the please-help-us dept.
itwbennett writes "Yahoo plans to release some technologies, including storage technologies, to the open source community, a senior executive of the company said. These are systems that Yahoo built to help it handle large numbers of users on its websites, but that don't necessarily give it a competitive advantage, said David Chaiken, chief architect at Yahoo."
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Yahoo Seeks Open Source Community Support

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  • Seeing yahoo open up their information excluding whatever core technology might not allow much if anything to be used, but that also might not be the scenario here. Can anyone comment who knows about the software source behind what they are supposedly opening up? Is this a big deal?

    • by bberens (965711)
      Honestly I'd be surprised if opening 100% of their algorithms and such would be detrimental at this point. The sheer capital requirements of getting into the search indexing game at this point make it a non-starter for all but very large companies. And those big companies would have a hard time growing into anything resembling competitive with a "real" technology shop.
      • No but revealing for example the add targeting process might be an issue, for competitive, regulatory and marketing reasons.

        And you need to make sure the comment and code elements are not offensive, make sure there is nothing like

        if (luser.category() >= cluless) luser.serve(advertisement[lies].bulshit());

        switch (luser.machine() ){
        case Windows: luser.category(iq_eval.reduce()): break:
        case MAC : luser.category(toy_addiction.increase()); break;
        case Linux : luser.category(cussness.increase(tothemax)); break;

        • by Cyberax (705495)

          What does Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy has to do with HTTP?

          Or do they have a new diagnostic technique?

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Here's a guess as to why it won't be able to be leveraged: it's written for FreeBSD 4 or something similarly archaic.

  • Messenger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble@@@hotmail...com> on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:35AM (#35640226)
    Release the protocol on your messenger service. The rest I could care less.
    • I thought of the messenger service as well. It is very frustrating to have a messenger client that no longer works, just because the company changed the protocol.

      That being said, a few things that I could think of are having better ways to upload information to Yahoo! Notes, and syncing Calendar and Contacts. I'm sure that there are more.

      • The Calendar Beta already supports syncing through CalDAV—just search[1] for instructions. Dunno about contacts, though.

        [1] I almost said "google it," but I didn't want it to be read as commentary on Yahoo!'s decline.

    • Better idea: switch to Jabber, or at the very least provide a gateway of some sort. Why do we need the Yahoo Messenger protocol?
      • Re:Messenger (Score:5, Informative)

        by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <monstertrimble@@@hotmail...com> on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:58AM (#35640522)
        Jabber is missing a lot of stuff which Yahoo messenger does very well - like photo sharing and video chat. When I have to defile myself by using XP (about once a month for MS Publisher) Yahoo messenger is still by far the best chat client I have used - closed and open source.
        • by devent (1627873)

          The Jabber protocol can be extended, for example with the Jingle protocol. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jingle_(protocol) [wikipedia.org]

          Would be awesome if everyone would be using just Jabber XMPP protocol, so I can chat with my client to Yahoo, Hotmail, etc, and the other way around too, and we would use an open protocol, that means that I could have multiple clients to choose from. Like that everybody is using the email protocol (POP3, IMAP, SMTP), everybody wins.

          Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. would be competing on who's have the

          • by Anrego (830717) *

            It always felt to me that jabber just never caught on... and at this point probably never will. I think part of the reason is said extendability and flexibility. Non-geeks want something that they just "download this" and start chatting. As soon as they need to start making choices, the game is over.

            I always liked the idea, but if your circle of non-geek friends arn't using it, doesn't do you much good. As for my geek friends, we mainly use IRC.

            • Non-geeks want something that they just "download this" and start chatting. As soon as they need to start making choices, the game is over.

              Like the Google Talk client built into their GMail UI, perchance?

            • I'm currently connected to Facebook chat and of course google chat via jabber, using Pidgin. I find it more reliable and useful than leaving a browser open to FB.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How much less could you care?

  • It would be nice to see some good database tools become OGL, or even get the BSD license. The various open source projects can hopefully at least cherry-pick some parts for their programs.
  • Didn't they flirt a bit too much w MS?!

    How about the Bing/Yahoo hegemony?

    • by Tsingi (870990)
      I don't use Bing, or Yahoo. I always found Yahoo to be slightly offensive, too commercial. I could be wrong, I can probably count on my fingers the number of times (over the lifespan of the public Internet) the number of times I've been there.

      I've tried Bing, it seems to work, so I can only say, with admitted bias, that I hate it because it's M$oft.

      Gimme that olde tyme open source.
      • I stopped using Yahoo when it stopped being a service directory to morph into a mix of portal/search engine...

        I do not see Portal as a replacement of CNN/others...
        And google provides a more streamlined user experience (although I'm started to be irritated by the ammount of "help" it provides me, particularly because for some reason it does not believe that I'm interested in relevant content not in "tailored for french no latin america nor whatever other tailoring it does..."

        And I see very personally how it

        • by Tsingi (870990)

          I stopped using Yahoo when it stopped being a service directory to morph into a mix of portal/search engine...

          I do not see Portal as a replacement of CNN/others... And google provides a more streamlined user experience (although I'm started to be irritated by the ammount of "help" it provides me, particularly because for some reason it does not believe that I'm interested in relevant content not in "tailored for french no latin america nor whatever other tailoring it does..."

          And I see very personally how it now has the power to do "friendly censorship"... of course if you "know it exists" you can still with some effort see it, but "accessible reality" is shaped by google,and that is scary (well bing would be even scarier ...)

          I didn't even realize taht Yahoo was a search engine, been so long since I was there.

          As for censorship, I agree, it is scary, but I don't think that it conflicts with "Do no evil"?

          I can't see how anyone could possibly build a search engine that does not have the side effect of imposing some level of censorship, deliberate or otherwise. It's a by product of the search algorithms.

          If that effect is controlled and directed, (deliberate) it's evil. If it isn't, what can you do to lessen the inevitable

  • by quangdog (1002624) <quangdog AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:39AM (#35640282)

    These are systems that Yahoo built to help it handle large numbers of users on its websites, but that don't necessarily give it a competitive advantage, said David Chaiken, chief architect at Yahoo, in an interview in Bangalore on Friday.

    Uhm, here's a bunch of code we wrote that is mostly useless to us. Let's bestow it on the unwashed masses and see if they can make it useful.

    The company has to first make sure that each of the technologies will really be useful and provide significant value outside Yahoo, before releasing it to open source, Chaiken said. It takes time and effort to go through the open source process, and to build a community around open source, so the company has to first make sure there will be interest from developers, he added.

    Let's float some new stories to some techie sites to see if anyone would like to fix our stuff for free.

    Releasing technology to the open source community helps Yahoo build recognition and a technical brand in the technical community, and also develop relationships with universities and companies, Chaiken said. There could also be some financial benefits in getting community developers to work on a project, he added.

    We love free labor.


    In all seriousness, this article seems like a non-story to me. Some huge corp is releasing stuff that they don't find very valuable in an attempt to see if someone out there can make it valuable for free. I'd be a whole lot more interested if they were releasing something that was already a technological breakthrough. Using the open source community as your free labor drones just feels wrong.

    • Re:releasing stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:50AM (#35640432) Journal

      I'd prefer to be a little less bitter. We all know that if a corp finds stuff valuable, they play all those "Intellectual Property" games. So if they're sitting on some misc code, sure - we'll take free stuff, *because they can't (easily?) take it back.*

      Never underestimate brilliant hacks out of "worthless" stuff. It's what invented the shredder industry, and post-it notes, and silly putty.

      • Agreed. How would this be any different to a demolition company letting people come in and take away the building materials from a building they tore down for whatever project they desire? One person's trash is another's treasure.
        • I'll take it one further.

          It may not even be trash. It may be in that nebulous category of "unfocused". Geek Analogy! "The following lot contains: One thriller novel with a missing cover, a calculator with the % key missing, three boxes of green tea with a misprinted label, the source code for the Amiga OS, and a grass mud horse chia pet."

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Using the open source community as your free labor drones just feels wrong.

      The programmers know how it works. They will let their behavior be dictated by the license; if they feel like it's a fair trade, they'll adopt the code.

      • by pyrr (1170465)
        This is exactly what it comes down to. Yes, Yahoo! might be having some trouble extracting value from some of its stuff. But to make it open source, it's not getting "free labor". It's certainly going to have to give-up some of its exclusive ownership in order to get that labor. Personally, I think it's a great choice; far too many corporations would rather let their patents and other IP just rot when they lack the resources to properly develop them, so nobody benefits from them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, having been on the inside, they really have a lot of cool technologies that I'd love to see shared.. because I miss them.

      Y! has (off the top of my head):
      - Their own package management system tailored to help keep track of what is deployed where and help solve dependency issues
      - A filtering system similar to PHP's built in filter functions, but way, way better
      - A site vulnerability scanner

      They recently open sourced their load balancing system, which is pretty cool:
      https://gi

    • Yes, this sounds like open source abandonware. That's not unusual; Google has done that a few times, too.

  • Probably more complex than you'd think, since many of their products have been "bought together", like the eGroups system beneath their Yahoo Groups stuff, instead of being built on a common base.

  • I'm damn near to the point of writing something which does the same shit all over again - how to handle keep-alives and slow POSTs over indian IPs while not typing up apaches along with it.

    I'd rather fix a few bugs in code that already works than write my own with blackjack and hookers.

  • despite your alliances and cooperation with microsoft ?

    give me a break.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      everything I read pretty much confirms what I thought, that is a non-announcement basically.

      Meanwhile, I agree that nobody would work with yahoo. Yahoo's on the way out, and it's their own decision to allow themselves to be controlled by MS and resultant failure.

      Has anyone realized yet that working with microsoft directly taking payments basically means your company's going to go out of business?

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday March 28, 2011 @12:23PM (#35640810)

    If Sun is anything to go by, this just seems like a signal that they're about to go under and are trying to throw all the extra weight off of the boat.

    • Extrapolation from one example [xkcd.com]? IBM open sources stuff and they are fine. Also, it could be that Sun went down not because of open sourcing, but because of hardware division losses. I haven't studied their finances though.

  • They still haven't answered my somewhat trollish question [yahoo.com] about why they hate it either. Sorry, the whole "simple oversight" bit doesn't fly, it's been way too many years running the new mail system.

    • Repeat after me: Linux is a kernel not an OS.

      It is very hard to do QA for "linux". You can do QA for RHEL or SLES or Ubuntu, but it's rather hard to do it for "linux" unless it's a patch to the kernel.

      And the amount of time and cost to do QA for different Linux OS's as a consumer client isn't worth it if 95% + of your users are either on Windows or Mac. Especially since a lot of linux users like to "tweak" their installs. So your install of Ubuntu maybe very different from my install of SuSE. Much easi

      • by pecosdave (536896)

        Said like a true Yahoo! shill.

        I know Linux is a kernel, however for just about everyone except for Richard Stallman himself it's acceptable to refer to GNU/Linux as Linux as it tends to confuse the overwhelming majority of people who don't understand the playing field when you actually say the "GNU" part.

        The point I was making was that if the page is written properly it DOES NOT HAVE to be tested for any OS rendering about 80% of your argument moot.

        Chances are if your page doesn't work with my browser it's

        • The point I was making was that if the page is written properly it DOES NOT HAVE to be tested for any OS rendering about 80% of your argument moot.

          Huh? If the page was written properly (and i'm not saying yahoo is or is not), and compliant to every open standard, it still does not mean you've tested it on every OS distribution.

          From a corporate standpoint, you cannot and should not say some platform is supported, when you've not tested it. You can say "should probably work", but you shouldn't say "is supported" because your ass is on the line when somebody finds out something obscure that you never thought about doesn't work.

          • by pecosdave (536896)

            So does that justify forcefully questioning my choice in OS every single time I chose to log in to their mail service? Isn't once enough?

            • Actually, it does kinda justify it. Because for every user who understands completely, many more won't really get it. Having a "don't show again" button would be much better for you and I, but maybe they decided it wasn't worth the time to implement. Or maybe they think that the common user would click it and not actually read the "hey, it's untested" message.

              Some management guy probably decided this would help PR and/or support with handling problems with users who are not technical. For the non-techie, wh

    • by FauxReal (653820)

      They will never answer your question because Y! Answers is answered by other Y! users and not some geek with an encyclopedia in one of their offices.

      Yahoo! hates Linux so much that they run all their servers on FreeBSD, maybe you should switch to that OS. Also, I'm not sure why they have that message, some engineer was probably afraid of some weird javascript/ajax problem and having to deal with support requests. I know it's pretty complex in there and there are certain things like the Signature settings t

      • by pecosdave (536896)

        Granted, I don't code for the web as much as many people, but when I do I tend to stick with "safe" code, meaning code I know to work across the board. My biggest issues have usually been with IE, usually I'll code a page, run it against the W3C validator and tweak it until it passes, then test it. Usually when I do that it looks good on everything BUT certain versions of IE, in which case I have to go tweak the code further to make it look good on that also.

        Other than IE being Windows specific the OS the

  • Does anyone here know if Yahoo hosting is still configured not to use a cgi-bin directory for CGI programs (Perl, Python)? I tried Yahoo hosting a while ago and they had it configured so the CGI programs would reside all over the server.

    In any case, I found some inexpensive Linux-based hosting that lets me configure things the right way.

  • Translation: we picked a (FreeBSD based) software stack years ago and stuck with it instead of moving to something better as they came along, because we'd made in-house modifications to the code base and not released them to the community. Now it's far behind the mainstream and we need help to stay competetive.

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