From the Board

Cape Verde's Big Win

Last week it was announced that former Cape Verde president Pedro Pires won the $5 million Mo Ibrahim prize for exceptional African leadership. As the citation explains, Cape Verde is among the smallest countries in Africa, poorest in natural resources, and yet managed to move its population of 500,000 forward much faster and much further than many other countries that shared similar (or presumably stronger) attributes. The key to their success? Openness.

Shout out to Zoneminder Project

For the first ten years of my open source life, I spent tens of thousands of hours pouring over hundreds of thousands of lines of source code across perhaps a dozen or fewer projects, mostly GCC, G++, GDB, and various other parts of the GNU toolchain. If there were a PhD in open source software, I was definitely specialist enough to have earned one. I was vaguely aware of the mountains of source code in the BSD distribution, and obviously Linux, but didn't really pay much attention to that until I joined Red Hat.

For the ten plus years after that, I have barely succeeded in scratching the surface of the 10,000+ packages that can be easily installed without the need to study the source code. It is both a luxury to have available the resources that are represented by the 200+ million lines of source code packaged for a typical Linux distribution, but it is also can one possibly know all there is to know? And yet, I find that when I need to look for something, it's there. When I needed to control and monitor some PTZ network cameras, I looked for an open source solution and discovered a really wonderful package called Zoneminder.

Board Meeting Report

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) Board meet this weekend in San Francisco for its annual face-to-face meeting (generously hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation). There were two significant topics on the agenda. First, we had to review the substantial number of nominations for the two Board seats that become vacant on March 31st when Danese Cooper and Russ Nelson leave the Board due to term limits after a decade each of service.

Microsoft Loves Open Source

Somehow I missed that Microsoft loves Open Source. There is a reason I missed it. When Microsoft is not threatening to sue people for using/distributing open source they are setting up semi-secret consortiums to hamper the use of Open Source. Microsoft loves "embracing" open source. This "mixed IT" and (uni-directional) "interoperability" is frankly a silly ploy. I WISH Microsoft was sincere but actions speak louder than words.

Happy Birthday Wikipedia!

Probably the greatest benefit of open source software is the liberty it creates to unleash innovation and the unexpected. By giving everyone four key liberties - to use the software for any purpose, to study it, to modify it and to pass it to others - software under OSI-approved licenses can be used in any way to create anything. The last twelve years since OSI was founded have seen an explosion of creativity both in the creation of software and in its use to make wonderful things happen.

The Concrete Benefits of Open Source Software

Following up on an earlier blog posting, Indian Open Standards Policy Finalized, I read an article published in the The Hindu, one of India's leading newspapers, about the concrete benefits of this policy. It also provides a very meaningful template for open source advocates to see how well an argument can be made with the proper framing of facts. Here is a quote from the third paragraph:

SCOSTA [the Smart Card Operating System for Transport Applications] was a standard developed for smart card-based driving licences and transport-related documentation by different State governments. It was developed by the National Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Despite attempts by proprietary lobbies to make the body opt for a proprietary standard, the NIC and academics went ahead and developed an open standards, one that comprised technological specifications that were entirely royalty-free, and put up the specifications on their website. By doing so, they made a huge impact on the entire market.


Subscribe to From the Board