Billing itself as a "cloud operating system," OpenStack was initially developed by Rackspace and NASA. Now governed by a separate Foundation, OpenStack claims more than 192 participating companies, including Canonical, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Red Hat, VMware, and a gaggle of cloud startups. Many of these companies plan to offer "packaged" versions because -- as with the Linux kernel -- the raw OpenStack bits are not something you'd normally download and put into production.
But OpenStack is not the only open source private cloud game in town. The best-known open source competitor to OpenStack is Eucalyptus, developed at the University of California and intended to mimic Amazon Web Services, with full API compatibility. CloudStack, an open source project launched by Citrix in April, is well-positioned for use by cloud service providers, with a great Web UI for administering cloud resources.
To the Internets and beyond!?Open source is outgrowing the world of computers. The success of open source software means that developers are giving it a whirl for everything from automobiles to clothing.
Take routers -- AutoAP, for instance, is a fascinating bit of code that can turn your wireless router into a node in a self-organizing network. It turns the once passive box for setting up Wi-Fi connections into an active participant that's constantly looking to bond with any neighbor.
Most people are using this to set up self-organizing wireless repeating networks in their home, but from time to time the networks jump the fence and start mixing. Dreamers suggest that one day there will be enough AutoAP-flashed routers to meld together into a seamless internetwork that doesn't need the big ISPs. People will have an "Internet" that simply exists and doesn't need a central corporation to carry the bits.
This same out-of-the-desktop-box thinking is also powering XBMC, the open source "set-top box" software that wants to lead the PC army to take over the living room. XBMC already has a firm beachhead with a number of alluring plug-ins. All it needs is good, affordable hardware -- which may be coming as people build cheap Android PCs with HDMI connectors.