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Pandora Flexible Monitoring System


Rich: I’m speaking with Sancho Lerena, and we are speaking about the Pandora FMS Open Source project. And we’re also speaking about the company behind Pandora FMS.

If you’d like to have your project featured on the SourceForge podcast, just drop me a note and we’ll schedule something.

If the embedded audio player below doesn’t work for you, you can download the audio in mp3 or ogg formats.

You can subscribe to this, and future podcasts, in iTunes or elsewhere, at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sourceforge/podcasts, and it’s also listed in the iTunes store.

Tell me how this project got started initially.

Sancho: This began about 8 years ago. I was working in a bank as a security consultant, and I had a lot of spare time. I was working with firewalls, with all systems like BSD, Solaris, AiX. I need to monitor different things – strange things – in that system. And with the usual tools from the big ones like Tivoli and HP – it was pretty difficult to extract information from that system. So I started with a few scripts that just collected data and sent it to me, and the thing started to grow up as an experiment for my day to day work, and after a year or two, the whole thing was something more than a few script. Later I have something – a product which was useful to monitor different kinds of servers – unix servers, Windows servers – I started to monitor network equipment. So I thought that could be something I could do for a living, and I started a company with that idea.

Rich: How is the open source edition related to what you do for your company? Are there some things that you add to that in an enterprise version?

Sancho: The most difficult part of the project was how to make profit from an open source project. So at the first versions, until, I think it was in 2007 or 2008, the product was 100% free. Free as open source, and free for people to pay nothing. We saw in that period that it was very difficult to earn money, mainly because – not because of the license – big companies don’t trust you if all is open. It doesn’t seem professional – for some of them, not for all, but I think it’s difficult. So we focused our strategy to identify what parts of the product will be useful only for big companies. So, our enterprise features are only for big companies. It’s not the same to monitor a small company with 20 servers than to monitor 2000 servers. It’s completely different. So, in Pandora FMS I think 80 or 90% of the features are open. Everybody can just download the package and install and use it. There are thousands of servers using the Open Source. But companies like Telefonica, or other companies in Japan like Rakuten, or Casio, need something specific to monitor a lot of systems in a homogenous way. We call it policies. Probably there is a lot of other applications which use the same approach.

Rich: Where did you get the name for the project? Is it related to the greek myth, or is there some other history behind that?

Sancho: Yeah, that’s it. You need something to warn you if something wrong escapes from the unknown. You need to know. The first logo was an octopus inside a box. Later we added the ‘FMS’ – because “Pandora” is too generic, and it was difficult to search in Google. The ‘F’ initially was for ‘Free Monitoring System’, but someone told me that ‘Free’ is a bad marketing word, so we renamed it as ‘Flexible Monitoring System.’

Rich: How does Pandora compare to some of the competition out there like Nagios?

Sancho: We like to think we are better. The real thing is that the Nagios community is huge, and everybody, when you ask, how do you do monitoring in your company or in your experience, everybody thinks Nagios, because Nagios was the first, or the first in importance to the community. I believe Nagios is not evolving in the same way we do. I think the user interface, and letting the user have the complete power from the console, and not need to enter into screens, or start a process from the shell – it’s very important. And also reporting. It’s one of the most important difference between other solutions and Pandora. Monitoring is very very complex. There’s more than 100 applications for monitoring in the market. There’s a lot of differences between each of them. We like to think Pandora is a horizontal approach, that means you can use Pandora for almost any kind of environment you need. Networking, servers, performance, business applications, reporting, even data mining. Of course, you can integrate all the pieces together. Other applications more focussed on performance, or availability, or even management. Pandora likes to put all these features together.

Rich: On the community side, how involved is the community in the development of the code? Is it primarily your company that develops the code, or do you also have participation from an outside community.

Sancho: The first time we started Open Source, we had some developers who were involved in the project. We have a few developers from the US, another one from Europe, another one from New Zealand. But the kind of development help they provided was only for small features, and not for long-time commitment. More like – I think that feature is OK and I would like to help you do that, or give us suggestions, or bug reporting. Later, when we moved to a more enterprise level, trying to focus on the features big companies need, we lost that kind of contribution, but in exchange we got in contact with companies which were interested in helping us to adapt Pandora to their needs. At this moment we have a full committer relationship, not only for development issues, also about business relationships, with a company in Japan, one of our partners. They have six people in their development team. All of them have access to the repository code. and we have also a company in Ecuador who are helping us also with some development. And we increase a lot of people giving us suggestions, ideas, and of course bug reporting. We have a very populated tracking server – Very active.

Rich: What is in the future for your project? What sorts of new things are you looking at doing in the coming year?

Sancho: We are now working in two different versions. We call it the stable version – we’re probably releasing any time now. It contains just a few new features and a lot of bug fixes, like usual in this kind of development. But we are working also in the next minor version – version 5.2. We are doing now a lot of huge improvements. We are adding the NetFlow feature to Pandora, for free, for Open Source. And we also are adding a new layer for management of different sites of Pandora. We call it metaconsole. We’ll provide a service provider to offer monitoring services to other companies, and be able to manage, why not, 10,000 servers from a single console.

One of the first things I had clear when I started Pandora was that the product should be on SourceForge. Because SourceForge was, for me, the source of knowledge about Open Source projects. It’s the site to be on – to be there. At first we had problems with the product name because it was taken. I had to wait two years until the Pandora name was free again. That’s because your site is really important on the Internet. If it’s an Open Source product, it should be on SourceForge.

Rich: Thank you Sancho for taking the time to speak with me.

Sancho: Thank you too.

December 2012 Project of the Month: JStock

Rich: SourceForge is pleased to announce the December 2012 Project of the Month.

JStock is free stock market software. Its intent is to help you invest intelligently, and have fun while you’re doing it. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Yan Chen Cheok, who is the lead developer on this project. He told me some things about the history leading up to JStock becoming Open Source, and also a little bit about the project itself.

If the embedded audio player below doesn’t work for you, you can download the audio in mp3 or ogg formats.

You can subscribe to this, and future podcasts, in iTunes or elsewhere, at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sourceforge/podcasts, and it’s also listed in the iTunes store.

Rich: Congratulations on the project of the month!

Yan: Oh, thank you very much. I’m really happy about that.

Rich: Let’s talk a little bit about the project. Tell us what JStock does.

Yan: It’s a stock market software, where the object is to make your stock investment fun and easy. The reason we make this software is we want to make the stock investing activity an easy process even for the beginner to the stock market.

Rich: How many of you are involved in this project?

Yan Currently I’m the only main developer. But from time to time I will receive some code contributions from my users – they do some language translation for me, or they see some bug in the bug tracker and they send me code patches, and so on. From time to time I will receive some code patches from them, but most of the time I’m still the only developer fro this project.

Rich: You received a lot of votes for the project of the month, so I take it you have a lot of happy and content users. Where do you think most of your users are in the world?

Yan: Currently most of my users are in Malaysia, because I’m Malaysian myself. Because when I first created this project, I did a lot of marketing and promotion among my own investment community – I tried to talk to them, I tried to introduce this software to them. So this spread from mouth to mouth, so it ended up my users are pretty concentrated in a certain geographic location. I also tried to promote this overseas, like in the United States, but it didn’t work so well because I don’t know much of the investing community out there. I’m only familiar with the community around me.

Rich: Why did you choose to make the software open source?

Yan: I think this needs to go back a few years ago. When I started this project initially, I did not intend to make it Open Source. I started the project because at UCLA I got a contract software project from the stock industry. They wanted someone to create a customized software project for their stock education center. After I finished the software, they refused to pay for the project.

Rich: Oh no!

Yan: Yeah, that’s not a good thing. At first I was quite upset with that because I spent so much effort and time into finishing the project, and I’m not getting paid. Then I was thinking, instead of throwing away the source code, or just letting this software die, why don’t I open source it, and make it grow. If I look back in my code committing history, I see … I think that happened around 2007, August. So I think that’s the time when it got started. It began from a failed software contract project, and I grew it to become an Open Source project with the help of SourceForge.

Rich: That’s a good story. It could have gone much worse.

Yan: I think it’s a good thing, though. If I sold it to them, maybe I’d only get a few hundred users, but now I made it Open Source, and published it on SourceForge, the world-wide users also can enjoy this software. It’s quite a satisfaction for this.

Rich: Again, thank you very much for speaking with me, and congratulations on winning project of the month.

Yan: Oh, thanks.

Rich: If people want to get involved in your project, should they get in touch with you, or should they talk on the forums, or what?

Yan: In our project website, within the wiki, I describe how the code contribution process should go on. So basically they just need to go through any feature request or bug report in the tracker, they can pick up the ticket, then email me a code patch. So, if they do that process several times, then I will give them commit rights. But so far most of the time I only receive only one-time contributions from the contributors, so I still am not able to make them a long-time committer for the project.

Rich: Thank you very much. I wish the best on your project!

November 2012 Project of the Month – Rigs of Rods

SourceForge is proud to introduce our November Project of the Month, Rigs of Rods. Rigs of Rods is a soft body physics simulator, in which you can build vehicles, and drive them around, and crash them into each other, all in very realistic ways. I recently spoke with Thomas, who is one of the Rigs of Rods developers, and he explained a little bit to me about how all of this works, as well as how you can get involved in this project.

If you want to work on this project, join the conversation in the Rigs of Rods forum.

If you’d like to have your project featured on the SourceForge podcast, just drop me a note and we’ll schedule something.

If the embedded audio player below doesn’t work for you, you can download the audio in mp3 or ogg formats.

You can subscribe to this, and future podcasts, in iTunes or elsewhere, at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sourceforge/podcasts, and it’s also listed in the iTunes store.

Rich: How would you describe the concept of “soft body physics” to somebody that’s not familiar with it? What does that mean?

Thomas: There are two principle concepts on how physics work in games or simulations. One side is rigid body physics, and one side is soft body physics. Rigid body physics is an abstraction of an object of how it should behave, in a bigger approach. Like, you describe a car as a box with four wheels attached to it. This is usually the way that rigid body physics works. What we’re doing with soft body physics is we go one level deeper. We describe not how a car should behave, or how a box should behave. We describe how mass points behave, and interaction between those mass points.

Rich: Tell me a bit about the history of the game. How did you get involved doing this?

Thomas: The game itself started in 2005, I think. Pierre-Michel is the original author of that software. He had the idea of doing physics in games differently than it used to be in games. He thought he could do a better job then they were doing, and he started out with the idea, with the node/beam physics. And so it evolved, and it got quite a community around it, and I joined the project in 2007. In 2009, it got open sourced. So, lots of progress since then.

Rich: I was playing the game this morning, and I was impressed by how many vehicles there were, and the incredible level of detail of the individual vehicles. Do those come from the community, or are those all developed by the core team?

Thomas: All of the content that you can download – I think we have thousands of modifications for the game online – and all of those modifications are made by the community. We have currently 43,000 members in the forums. It’s quite hard to create a mod. It’s not that easy. But if you learn how to do it, Rigs of Rods can give you simulation details that not many other simulators can give you. So you can tune your car or your truck or your vehicle to the last bit you would like to. People really like to do that stuff and simulate how it would behave in real life. They love the amount of detail the physics gives them. This is why they give so much detail into creating the models.

Rich: I also spent some time this morning watching car crash videos on YouTube. There are lots of those, and, again, there, the level of detail is really impressive.

Thomas: The crash physics is something that evolves from the way we’re doing physics. Instead of doing rigid bodies, like – a car is a box – we do node/beams. Nodes are the mass points, and beams are the connections between. So, when you design a truck, it’s not like you start designing a truck. It’s more like you design a skeleton in the shape of a truck. And when it all comes together, you put on wheels – that are in the shape of a wheel. And when you start driving, it behaves like a truck. So, we don’t have any specific code in there for trucks or for cars, except for the wheel acceleration. The bonus of that is if you crash something like that against a wall, it will behave correctly. So the automobile industry has been using that idea for years – since the 1970s or something – to simulate car crashes, so that they don’t have to crash a real car. What we’re doing is a very simplified version of this concept. We’re doing the same thing with node pass points, just very simplified so it’s possible to run it in realtime, which is quite an effort to get working.

Rich: The actual physics that are behind the game … is it something that is fairly common in the gaming world now, or are most games of a much simpler physics model?

Thomas: We released the software in 2009 publicly, as a GPL project, and currently there’s no other games that use it to this level. There were some games that use the same concept, but not to the level where we’re doing it. The problem in the industry is that the industry always sticks to proven models and proven things. If you would like to introduce soft body physics in a game, you would have to prove that it’s working out, and you have to fit all these requirements. For example, if you develop a triple-A game, it should run on all consoles, and iPads, and whatever. So you have quite some barriers. Nowadays, almost all games use rigid body physics, because of the computing time. I always try to compare it with bottom-up and top-down physics – our physics is … we give you a sample of how to put mass points and connections between them, and it’s your problem if stuff is not working. In traditional games, you have a box, and some wheels, and the coder will then tune this box and wheels as long as the thing behaves as a truck or something you would like to have. What we’re doing is that we give people that create the vehicles the ability to create it on their own, so they have to fit to the simulator, not the other way around. So everything you see in there is realistically as much as it can get. If you would do it in real life with mass and values like that, it will behave like that exactly.

Rich: One of the features that you have introduced recently is the ability to play this multiplayer. Are there a lot of people playing this multiplayer, or is this still an experimental thing?

Thomas: Let me quickly look at the server table … yes, there are lots of players online right now, and there are lots of players playing this multiplayer. However, there are in the current version quite some problems playing multiplayer, like, you cannot collide, and things like that. So we’ll need to work more on the multiplayer part. What we have worked on in the last week was a user linking table, so that users could race in the terrains, and the races are then recorded in an online database, and you can collect points. We didn’t think that it would be used that much. But the people spent 417 hours doing 14,400 races on 2500 vehicles on 64 terrains. So, it’s quite used. And people fight about points. So it’s nice, and it adds some gameplay to the sandbox.

Rich: Before we started recording you mentioned … when we were chatting, that there still a lot to do. If someone wanted to become involved in your development community … two questions really. What is there that they could do, and secondly, what sort of skills would be necessary for them to become involved?

Thomas: Since Rigs of Rods is not using a game engine below, we are working on all areas – sound, networking, multiplayer, and graphics, obviously. So we have developers who are working specific parts like sound engine and 3D sound, or networking and then the multiplayer stuff. So we can feature every aspect a developer would like to work on. We have developers that are working just on the scripting part, and developers that are just very specifically working on some features in the game engine itself. Whatever you’re interested in, just tell us, and we can find some spot there. There’s lots of work left on all corners. There are thousands of bugs in there, and on the new version, 0.4, we have a new terrain system that isn’t working completely yet. So that needs a lot of work as well. So please contact us, and we’ll find a slot that’s available for work, and find what we can do.

Rich: You have a very international community with your project. Tell us something more about your translation effort. I see that you have dozens of different languages here that translations are available in. And I know that translation is always an area where many people can get involved even if they don’t have programming experience. So tell us how someone would get plugged in here.

Thomas: We have lots of people who apply to be a translator, and there is lots of translation work going on. We have 700 items that need to be translated per language. And, it’s very simple. You register on our website and apply as a translator. It’s a very simple process. The translation gets used when a user installs the software. So your work will directly influence everyone in the world. For example, we have people translating our software into Japanese, and I was very excited the first time I saw a screenshot with japanese characters on it. It’s awesome that people spend their time to create these translations in their own time.

Rich: When you do translations, I presume you’re using the standard .po files and …

Thomas: Yes, exactly, we use .po and .mo files. It’s the traditional approach, yes.

Rich: So someone who was doing translation for another project could very easily take several projects and do translation efforts on them.

Thomas: Yes. We have written a custom web interface because we would like to have the users translate stuff in a more multi-player fashion, and you can translate stuff directly online. But you can always download the .po file and translate offline and later upload it. It’s a custom web service, but … the online project management tools that were out there didn’t fit our requirements, so we wrote our own thing.

Rich: Once again, congratulations on this honor, and we look forward to seeing more things from your project in the future.

Thomas: Thank you very much, and thank you for the interview.

ProjectLibre: October 2012 Project of the Month

Rich: October’s project of the month is ProjectLibre, an Open Source alternative to Microsoft Project. Now, as it happens, I spoke with Marc O’Brien of the ProjectLibre project just a few weeks ago. So, in this conversation we focused more on the community aspects of the project, rather than on the technical and functional aspects. Here’s my conversation with Marc.

If the embedded audio player below doesn’t work for you, you can download the audio in mp3 or ogg formats.

You can subscribe to this, and future podcasts, in iTunes or elsewhere, at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sourceforge/podcasts, and it’s also listed in the iTunes store.

Rich: Hi, Marc. Congratulations for being project of the month. I also see you had a record download day yesterday.

Marc I noticed that. I gotta tell you, that is highly appreciated not just by us, but I got so much feedback from the community. People were really pleased, because we really want to focus this and make sure that we can get the progress with it, and part of that’s the user feedback. And so more people using it and getting us feedback the better. So that was excellent. One of the other interesting things – and you and I talked about it last time – I’ve got a personal interest in the geographic dispersion of it. And I’ve been tracking not just the downloads, but the countries. We were stuck on 136 countries for about a week, and with that change, we bumped up to, I think 140 or 141.

Rich: 142. 142 countries.

Marc I need to refresh my screen. Since this morning, two more countries have … that speaks volumes right there. Because I checked first thing this morning, and it was at 140. You’re right. 142.

Rich: This is cool.

Marc It really is. And you and I talked about Africa last time. I do think that Open Source software in general, but this in particular, can have a disproportionate benefit, not numbers-wise, but impact-wise, all over the world. That’s a really cool thing.

Rich: Last time we talked specifically about your project and its history. And that wasn’t so very long ago. Let’s talk a little bit about why you think that this project is important in those countries.

Marc There’s been a lot of progress made in Open Source software for productivity applications and business applications. And you can look no farther than just OpenOffice and LibreOffice, and see the impact that they have will millions and millions of users, and really a very nice alternative to the Office suite from Microsoft. You can look at Google as far as the cloud. Office includes Microsoft Project. Obviously, they have a dominant market share in the project management category. And part of the Office umbrella includes Project. And it turns out that about 7% of all desktops not only include your normal Office suite, but also Microsoft Project. In the ecosystem of Open Source software, it’s very difficult to make that jump as a business, be it a large business or a small business, over to Open Source software if you don’t have complementary packages across the board. You could look at it at first blush and say, 7% is not a big number, but even in a small/medium business, with downwards of 100 employees, you’re still talking about seven desktops that need an alternative in the Open Source space. ProjectLibre is that alternative, so that you can actually open up Microsoft Project files, be it on Linux, Mac, or Windows, and you’ve got an alternative. So that the impact of ProjectLibre is pretty wide spread, because it will allow companies to really deploy Open Source applications on the desktop such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

Rich: So far as the third world goes, there’s an enormous amount of illegal software use. Your project and ones like it also fill a role there. Can you talk a bit about that?

Marc I really feel passionately about this because it is a moral dilemma, around the world, whether you manage your project on a spreadsheet or whether you pay $1000 a copy for Microsoft Project or other proprietary vendors. Sometimes we look in the prism of the North American economy, and we see piracy here. Piracy around the world is a moral dilemma – they’re really figuring out whether they can effectively manage projects on a spreadsheet or whether they need to pirate, because the money’s not there. ProjectLibre gives them a free alternative that not only can manage the projects at the same level of functionality and features but also lets them potentially save it out if they have to interact with someone with the proprietary software so that you can actually exchange schedules. I think that the impact on this world-wide will be very significant, because projects are occurring all over the world – Africa, Asia, India, South America – and we can see that by the usage statistics as well.

Rich: And of course that’s not merely in technology businesses. Everyone has projects they have to manage.

Marc That’s exactly right. Project management itself as a discipline is a very interesting discipline. People get their PhDs now, and their Masters degrees, in the project management discipline. Architecture, engineering, and construction is a big segment. Pharmaceuticals is a big segment. Projects occur across the board and it’s very horizontal as far as the applicability.

Marc The community, as well – we are thrilled with the community. The ProjectLibre community at ProjectLibre.org is approaching 1000 people. And I had high expectations for the community involvement, but obviously people are voluntarily joining, and those numbers for one month are just tremendous for us. And we’re trying to manage the community effectively, and we’ll continue to refine how we do that. It’s really been wonderful to see almost 1000 people join the community in the first month.

Rich: I assume that these are primarily users of the software. Are you also seeing code contributions yet?

Marc No, we’re not. We’re seeing contributions from the community. The contributions are primarily on the documentation side, as well as the translations side. The code contributions right now has really been smaller for the team, and I need to give a shout out to the co-founder, Laurent Chretienneau, who is over in France, and is just doing an amazing job with the group. But the code contributions right now are occurring internally, because it’s very complex, with a lot of the bugs being fixed. But the community has really reached out in regards to translations, be it Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian … I could keep going. But it’s really been great to get those kind of contributions. But primarily the community is doing a lot of bug testing for us. WIth 1000 people, and growing rapidly, it’s going to be really beneficial for the entire project.

You and I have been focusing on the fact that it’s in 142 countries. But in the United States, about 22% of the downloads are from the United States, and we’re seeing community members from Fortune 500 companies and they’re readily endorsing us. And so we’re getting great feedback. I unfortunately don’t have permission yet to use names, but suffice it to say it’s actually Fortune 10 level companies that are readily adopting it. It really is cool. In one particular instance, are doing so not just domestically, but also with some of their international operations. For them, they’re able to do this effectively because of the interoperability with existing proprietary tools, a.k.a. Microsoft Project. So that as they’re rolling this out, it can be augmenting what they currently have deployed and send the files back and forth. In short order, I want to get a case study out there so that this can really be much more publicized with specific information. But I think that’s one of the things that’s really been gratifying in addition to the global usage, but also the fact that it’s spanning from small/medium enterprises up to, like I said, a Fortune 10. So that’s really great.

Rich: Marc, thank you very much for talking with me again. And I look forward to seeing your download numbers continue to grow.

Marc Rich, I really appreciate it. Thanks for all the support, and it was a pleasure speaking with you again as well. Thanks.

The Anvil Podcast: ProjectLibre

Rich: Today I spoke with Marc O’Brien from the ProjectLibre project, which is a desktop project management tool much like Microsoft Project. I spoke with him today because they have a release coming out over the weekend. It’s the first release of the project in over four years. It used to be known as OpenProj. Due to number of occurrences that we’ll talk a little bit about in the podcast, it has changed its name and it’s coming back out. We’re very excited to have this as a continuing part of the SourceForge family. Here’s my conversation with Marc.

If you’d like to have your project featured on the SourceForge podcast, just drop me a note and we’ll schedule something.

If the embedded audio player below doesn’t work for you, you can download the audio in mp3 or ogg formats.

You can subscribe to this, and future podcasts, in iTunes or elsewhere, at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sourceforge/podcasts, and it’s also listed in the iTunes store.

Rich: First of all, congratulations on the release of your beta.

Marc: Thank you.

Rich: Tell us something about the history of this project. I know that it’s changed its name in the last little bit. Take us back to the beginning and tell us where you’ve been and where you’re going.

Marc: I actually got my start in project management software back in the mainframe days with a company called PSDI, that some people would remember, and then migrated to a DOS-based company that won product of the year by InfoWorld back in the 90s. The founding team has a strong legacy going back to the DOS, Windows days, along with the first team collaboration solution called WebProject. WebProject got acquired, and it kind of terminated the mission which was for Web-based team collaboration and project management software. We launched Progeny, and Progeny had two components, one being the Open Source component, OpenProj, and the other was a cloud component called Project On Demand. That was acquired by Serena Software, and their interest was the cloud computing component, which was Project On Demand. The Open Source component, which is OpenProj, has laid dormant for the last four years. We see it as an important component of the Open Source. So we came back and we rewrote a significant portion of it as ProjectLibre. That’s where ProjectLibre comes from. We are the original founders, and we were the sole developers, of OpenProj as well. And the ProjectLibre product now is release in beta, and we’re really doing a big push with the community. We’ve got a community site out there. It’s been downloaded in the first day in over 65 countries, so I think it’s off to a nice start.

Rich: Where has the project management space gone since we last saw a release of this software?

Marc: That’s a very interesting question, Rich. The project management industry has been dominated by Microsoft. One of the reasons you don’t see many competitors out there is that their market share is so enormous. Maybe we’re foolish to go after them with this Open Source solution. I would say that the biggest move that’s happened in project management software was Oracle acquiring Primavera, which is an excellent company that was very dominant in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction arena – the AEC market – and that, once again, got rolled into Oracle. Microsoft themselves just continues to make this a significant portion of the Office suite. The last estimates we knew, over 6% of all desktop deployments of Office actually contain Project as well. It’s an important component of their revenue stream. It has been four full years since Progeny was acquired, and the commits at SourceForge, and the commits in general, really haven’t occurred in the last four years. Microsoft has come out with Project 2010, and the conversion to Project 2010 was very strong, so the current Open Source tools out there don’t have compatibility. It’s very complex, and so we spent a good deal of the last year writing the import/export round trip capability so that ProjectLibre can simply open existing Project 2010 files and you can actually store them back if you wanted to round-trip it.

Rich: So, what sort of functionality are we talking about?

Marc: It runs the gamut from gantt charts, pert charts, resource, everything from cost controls where you can have actual cost work performed, budgeted cost work performed, you can do all the costing. It’s very very complex software, as far as the behind-the-scenes software goes, and to completely provide round-trip access means we have to have the equivalent functionality. There are even things like different calendars on resources, different calendars on tasks, and projects themselves. Vacation time, cost escalators, if you have overtime costing, or if you want to bill a resource with a different costing structure for different projects. Those are the kind of things outside the “meat and potatoes” of a gantt chart and making tasks. It’s really complex software to replicate in an Open Source project, but that’s what ProjectLibre has.

Rich: You have a release coming out in … what, a couple days now?

Marc: Yes. We put the first beta up there. The community really wanted to see it, so we put that out. We’ve got a release coming out over the weekend, over the long weekend here, it’s going to be a beta 2, and it’ll have installers for Windows and Mac – the .dmg. Actually, the .msi is available right now for Windows. That was uploaded this morning, so there is an installer for that. We’ll have another release next week.

Rich: If somebody wanted to get involved in this project, it sounds like it’s kind of complex and people would have to know quite a bit. Are there places where somebody could start plugging in who didn’t have the entire stack in their mind yet?

Marc: Absolutely. We’ve actually gotten, even pre-release, a lot of contributions. On the translation end, on the documentation end, we even have someone from Africa send us ideas so far as logo changes. So there’s some graphic components there. And we do have a community site, at www.projectlibre.org. People can sign up there and become part of the community. I think documentation, integrations with other software … we’ve had companies contact us who want to integrate in. So I think there’s a number of areas. I think your assessment has some merit as far as the guts of the programming engine itself is very complex. It’s something that, deep knowledge of project management and programming is required, but there’s so much else we can get help on and we really want this to be a community-driven project.

Rich: Is there anything else that your project is trying to accomplish?

Marc: The one other thing is that this is project for the desktop. So this is a replacement of Microsoft Project for the desktop. We’re also in development of a replacement of Microsoft Project Server. That was actually our original mission, was to product a replacement of Microsoft Project Server. Our assumption was that the current Open Source desktop solution would suffice, but when we dug into it, there was just too much that needed updating, and so we really spent the good part of the year updating to release ProjectLibre desktop. But we are going to have a server-side solution as well, and that’s going to be something very new for the marketplace. There’s a lot of complexity to it but our engine is robust enough that the server-side will really be something that the community will embrace I believe.

Rich: Thanks so much for talking with me.

Marc: I really appreciate it, Rich, and I’ll keep you updated on the project.