Open Source in 2011: Social Media Giants Releasing (Very Useful!) Open Source Products
What do Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have in common? All of them are giant social media websites, but the companies behind them are releasing more and more open source tools. Issa Mahasneh listed the most important ones that marked the last year.
Busy open source year for the biggest social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all have released some good open source tools. The companies, that strongly relied on open source for building their websites, are now giving back to the community, even as a sign of love or to benefit from others' contributions.
'Twitter Wants To Make It Harder For Governments To Snoop' - Open Sources Android Security Tool
Twitter has released in December a technology for encrypting SMSs on Android devices as open-source. The secure text-messaging client, named TextSecure, allows people to add encryption to all sent and received texts from their Android phones, and can encrypt texts for transmission if they are being sent to another TextSecure user.
The tool Twitter published its source code on Github, is owned by the micro blogging platform since its acquisition of Whisper Systems that has "always been interested in the ability for individuals and organisations to communicate freely and securely", according to Whisper Systems Development Team.
"We hope that as an open-source project, TextSecure will be able to reach even more people, with an even larger number of contributors working to make it a great product", they added.
By this move "Twitter wants to make it harder for governments to snoop", some press sources reported. "Originally built to protect activists' phone messages from being picked up by the government, Whisper's products make it harder to snoop on Android phones".
According to Mashable, open sourcing this software means that "those same dissidents can engineer new features and adapt the software for their own purposes, potentially making them even more secure".
Finally, Some Good Hip Hop Music
HipHop is a code transformer for PHP developed by Facebook, HipHop transforms PHP script code into compiled code, through converting it into optimized C++ and later to machine code. Why to use HipHop? Easy, compiled code is basically faster, with HipHop, a PHP application can be 2 to 6 times faster. Different PHP sites like Drupal, MediaWiki and WordPress have their performance boosted by HipHop.
Although released in 2010, some good news appeared a month ago, Facebook is working on a HipHop Virtual Machine (hhvm), which improved upon HipHop interpreter performance by 60% (and reduced memory usage by 90%).
If you are a computer scientist you would probably know that languages like Java and C# have a dynamic translation to native machine code (a.k.a just-in-time or JIT compilation), the current HipHop compiler and interpreter do not share a unified intermediate representation (since they have two different ASTs), with the HipHop virtual machine; a PHP, or more exactly, a HipHop bytecode is created that is turned into x64 by a dynamic translator.
Jason Evans, who announced the HipHop Virtual Machine on the Facebook Engineering blog, said "We hope that the PHP community will find hhvm useful as it matures and engage with us to broaden its usefulness through technical discussions, bug reports, and code contributions".
If you want to check it out for yourself, it’s all open-sourced on GitHub. Till now, 20 people have contributed to the HHVM project.
Facebook Opens Its Data Centers
Kudos to Facebook as well for their good decision to make their data centers' design and architecture public, acting different than other companies (like Google, that keeps its data center a highly-guarded secret), Facebook provided full specification of their infrastructure in an open way.
Starting April 2011, the social networking company initiated the Open Compute Project, in which it provided full specifications of its computing infrastructure using open source software and hardware to "democratize access to the best server, storage and data center technologies available". According to the project, the focus is on open technologies that can be multi-sourced.
Last year Facebook released as well its own Scribe log aggregation tool. If you want to know more about all the tools and technologies open sourced by Facebook check the Open Source page on Facebook Developers.
LinkedIn Open Sources Search Engine (For the 2nd Time)
LinkedIn has open sourced software obtained in October 2011 with its acquisition of the IndexTank search-engine company. "We are excited to add IndexTank to this array of powerful open source tools" said Diego Basch, LinkedIn Director of Engineering.
IndexTank is the same company that deployed search systems for other big web sites, including BitTorrent, TaskRabbit and Reddit.
LinkedIn had previously donated source code of tools related to search, including Bobo, a Java-based extension to Apache Lucene that can search semi-structured data, Zoie, a real-time search engine built on Lucene and Cleo, a library for text form autocomplete services.
IndexTank has three components; IndexEngine: a real-time fulltext search-and-indexing system designed to separate relevance signals from document text, APIs and Nebulizer, a framework to host and manage an unlimited number of indexes running over the cloud.
These components are open source (released under the Apache 2.0 license) and code can be downloaded from GitHub.