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Mike McGrath mmcgrath at
Thu Sep 30 21:38:48 UTC 2010

I'm no lame duck, I swear.  This is a pretty dramatic proposal, my hopes
are it will generate much discussion.  It's no secret I'm not big on the
future of the desktop[1].  With great reflection and further research I've
come to realize something else.  Google is about to destroy just about
everyone.  There's a tiny handful of people that don't like the idea of
cloud computing and information "in the cloud".  The majority of the world
though in love with it or will be and not know it.  The problem: Free
Software is in no position to compete with the web based applications of
the Google of tomorrow.

What am I talking about?  HTML5 and javascript.  Javascript has gotten
significantly faster in just the last two years.  In some cases over 100
times faster then just 2 years ago.  Who drove that?  Google and Chrome.
Why did they do it?  They realize HTML5 is disruptive technology.  What we
think of advanced "web technologies" today, are still based on html 4.01.
Not changed in over 10 years.  Ajax was a nice addition 7 or so years back
but the foundations, the primitives are 10 years old.
  Think about how much computing has changed in the last 10 years.  From
2000 to 2010.  They will change that much if not more in the next 10

HTML5 adds some amazing new features.  Local database, offline storage,
canvas and inline SVG to name just a few.  If you do a little research
you'll see Google employees are tipping their hand.  Many are releasing
youtube videos of the work they're doing.  Google has a great deal of
institutional knowledge about HTML5.  Very interesting since the standard
isn't even complete yet.  When it is, they'll be ready and those
applications won't look ANYTHING like what the web apps today look like.
They'll look like native desktop apps.

Take this example:

Imagine that technology applied to actual applications.... That run
anywhere HTML5 does.  Our idea of the desktop is gone.

This next part is VERY important.

This is an opportunity.

So what am I proposing?  I think Fedora should slowly transition itself to
be similar to how the Apache Software Foundation is setup.  We should put
more resources into fedorahosted and grow it.  (Perhaps our new
infrastructure lead would agree?  ;)  but the infrastructure is only one
tiny part of it.  We build these applications, get communities around them
then let OTHERS actually run them.  We'd need engineering coordinators,
architects, planners.  Not just from Red Hat but from other major
stakeholders as well.  We create these tools for others.

Our best plan for Google isn't to take them on directly but to build tools
that let everyone take them on a little bit at a time.  Clearly this isn't
something that will be done next month.  This is an ambitious, long term
goal that would take place over the next several years.  The reason it
will work is we'd be getting on the HTML5 bandwagon early.  Very early.
Others are already doing work here.  Like Mozilla's skywriter: -

Take a look at that thing.  That's the future of office/productivity
applications, the future of communication, the future of computing.
Don't just admire what skywriter does.  Imagine what it will do, what it
could do.  Imagine what Google's applications will look like when they're

Businesses are already moving to cloud computing for their backend.  What
are they going to run on the front end?  At the moment?  Not free
software.  We're no where near that market right now..  But we can be.

There's no reason in the world we can't spread free software via web
applications / cloud computing.  Even though someone chooses to run
windows or OSX, there's no reason they can't do their primary computing on
free software.  Perhaps provided by their ISP, their business, other ISPs.



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