Give Google a Break

Google are developing a new operating system, aimed squarely at the netbook market. The ethos behind it, like with most things at Google in the last 12 months, is speed – they want it to take no more than 7 seconds to boot.

Once logged in you will only have access to a web browser – the browser will be Googles Chrome Browser, as you may expect. There will be no desktop or other apps, everything will be done from the browser. They are going to build in functionality for  working offline, for when you are not connected to the net.

Many people, even in the Linux world, seemed to be opposed to this but I can only see it as a good thing. Under the hood its based on Linux, Google have said they have been working with Ubuntu in this respect. Google have stated that Chrome OS will be Open Source and released the current dev version on Chromium.org. From my point of view I think its going to be good for the Linux platform. The improvement in boot speed and hardware drivers alone can only be good.

I really dont know why Google seem to have so much opposition. I understand peoples concerns about a company that knows so much about its users but they are the only company to have a “do no evil” moto. Whats more Google are also a very transparent company, the information that they have on you can easily be found and deleted if you so wish. For example, if you want to view or delete your web history, just go here and do so.

I do wonder how many people know about the Data Liberation Front, a team of Google engineers who work solely on making sure that you can easily get your data in or out of as many Google products as possible, as simply as possible.

I really do feel that Google are a friend of open source. Their Android phone OS is Open Source and while I know there was some concern over their reation to the Cyanogen mod, when you read into it, you can understand their point of view – plus they worked with the Cyanogen guy to come up with a work arround.

Also, lets not forget the Google Summer of Code. Each year they make this great contribution to Open Source. Im sure its not entirely altruistic but never the less it is a very valuable contribution.

Recenlty Google seemed to cause some more negative ripples with their aquistion of the Etherpad Project. I think anyone who has tried both Wave and EtherPad will understand why Google wanted Etherpad. Etherpads real time document editing is much better than the current Google Wave client. So the Etherpad team have been pulled off Etherpad and put to work on Wave. The controvesy was not so much about this but that the fact they closed Etherpad, a product that many people use and find invaluable. They gave people about a months notice to trasition away from it. The thing I will say about this is that as soon as they became aware of the communities concern, they re-examined the decision and have re-opened EtherPad – in a matter of days. They then said, in a very open way “what were we thinking”.

UPDATE: They have also released the sourcecode for Etherpad under the Apache Licence

This brings me on to Google Wave.I know that people who have been able to try this out are not that overwhelmed with it. What I will say is that its very early days in this products development. I would also so that Wave is all about the protocol underneath that lets you collaborate on document editing and the current Wave client is just the first implementation of a client – there will be other clients. In other words, think of Wave as SMTP and the current client as Outlook Express. There will be better clients

My main point about Wave though is how Google have gone about this. They said, from the outset, that they wanted to create an open protocol, just like SMTP. They also built federation in and they have also desinged it to be extensible, so that people can develope their own plugins. This shows that they are a company that just seem to get it. The understand why Openess is important.

So whats the point of this article, well what Im really saying is give Google a break. Yes they have a lot of information about us and its right to be concerned but their every action to date seems to have been honorable. Lets save the paranoia for companies that treat us and our data appallingly on a daily basis

I’d love to hear your opinion of this subject, please leave a comment or use the contact form

OSG

WordPress Auto Upgrade

Recent versions of WordPress have the ability to upgrade themselves at the click of a button. This has never seemed to work for me, instead it just asks for FTP credentials. I was told this was a permissions thing, that this is what happens if it permissions arent correct. So today I decided to look into it. Its really quite simple.

On a web server, the service runs under an account context – in my case the account is apache. Now all the files in the root of my WordPress folder are owned by root, and only root can write to them. So this is why auto-upgrade doesnt work. Changing the ownership of these files to be Apache would fix it. However, this means that if ever Apache is attacked and breaks giving the user access as the apache user, he would have read-right access. Its a pretty unlikely scenario I know but hey, call me paranoid

If you want your WordPress to be autoupgradable, you simple need to change the ownership of the wordpress files to apache so that the webserver has read/write access.

Ive decided to come up with two scripts, one that is run before the upgrade, that changes the ownership to apache and one that runs after the upgrade to change the ownership back. Its really very simple, so here they are

Before upgrade

chown apache:apache /var/www/html
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/readme.html
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/index.php
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/license.txt
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/xmlrpc.php
chown -R  apache:apache /var/www/html/wp-content/
chown -R  apache:apache /var/www/html/wp-includes/
chown -R  apache:apache /var/www/html/wp-admin/
chown apache:apache /var/www/html/wp-*

chown root:root /var/www/html
chown root:root /var/www/html/readme.html
chown root:root /var/www/html/index.php
chown root:root /var/www/html/license.txt
chown root:root /var/www/html/xmlrpc.php
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-content/
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-includes/
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-admin/
chown root:root /var/www/html/wp-*
Post upgrade

chown root:root /var/www/html
chown root:root /var/www/html/readme.html
chown root:root /var/www/html/index.php
chown root:root /var/www/html/license.txt
chown root:root /var/www/html/xmlrpc.php
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-content/
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-includes/
chown -R  root:root /var/www/html/wp-admin/
chown root:root /var/www/html/wp-*

Its probably not really necessary but it feels better this way 🙂

Please note, my WordPress files are in the root folder, not in “wordpress” or “blog”, so you will need to adapt the above for your own case

OSG