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West Africa to invest in FOSS Study

FOSSFA and OSIWA, in their Free and Open Source Software for West Africa and Beyond (FOSSWAY) project are set to invest in FOSS research in West Africa. In the recently published Call for Tender both organisations are awarding a research contract up to the tune of 65 000 US dollars for a Study to be carried out in five West African Countries. The study, whose results will be made available in French and English languages, will be the first to constructively do a hands-on from withing the continent.

OSI signs an MOU with the Korea Software Copyright Committee

I visited Seoul last week to represent OSI at an open source conference and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Korea Software Copyright Committee (SOCOP). SOCOP organized a conference with the title "Free Open Source Software License Insight Conference", and the international speakers included Brett Smith of the FSF, Brendan Scott of Open Source Law, Michael Coté of RedMonk and myself. From the questions we received, it seems that there is a lot of interest in legal questions related to open source.

Do Patents Encourage or Hinder Innovation? The Case of the Steam Engine

The Freeman, in December of last year, published an excellent study of a natural experiment in patents: the Steam Engine. The power of a steam engine is rated in "duty": the amount of weight it can lift. During the 42 years from 1772 to 1813 duty rose 3.8 percent per year; during the 38 years from 1814 to 1852 duty rose more than twice as fast-8.5 percent per year. The difference?

Not a coder? Want to contribute to open source?

Are you not a coder? Or are your coding skills rusty, having moved on? No matter! You can still contribute to open source. Open source is only one part of a program. The other part is open data. I'm encouraging people to contribute to OpenStreetMap. We're running OpenStreetMap mapping parties all over the world. All skills taught! What's important is your willingness to contribute to an Open Data project, and location, location, location. We can only map where you are.

275 Open Source Policy Initiatives (and growing)...

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released their sixth update to their CSIS Open Source Policy Study last year, and given their track record we should expect to see a new report later this year. The report now cites 275 Open Source policy initiatives, with 70% now reaching "completed" status. What is become clear to me is the extent to which open source development, deployment, and maintenance practices are becoming the templates for government best practices for managing information technology and transformation.

Please forget to FLOSS

In email to a third party, copied to me, Linux activist and long-time friend Rick Moen comments on the acronym FLOSS (usually explanded "Free, Libré, and Open Source".

Reducing the risks of vendor lock-in

Peter Hansteen of Bergen Norway reports that the Norwegian Police Force has disclosed two large-scale information security incidents. He explains that:

Apparently large parts of the bureaucracy that is responsible for the confidential and correct processing of criminal matters and all sorts of sensitive personal information associated with the crimes runs essential services on Microsoft Windows NT 4.0.

That version of the Microsoft product is so old it is officially abandonware, and early reports of the police network problems included the oldish news that even the antiware vendors have stopped supporting the system. Later reports had police IT department officials claim that the worm infections were not that much of a security problem, since at this point all the worm actually did was spread.

The emphases above are, understandably, in the original report.

A New Software Manifesto for India

A new voice is rising from the great democracy of India, and that voice is proclaiming that the only responsible choice for public sector software is software that is first and foremost available to the public-to read and understand, to modify and improve, and to share and redistribute. The campaign Public Software for Public Sector has published a Manifesto expressing their belief that free and open source software is a natural fit for the vibrant traditions of Indian democracy and its emphasis on sharing knowledge, and that the liberal licensing policies of such software are necessary to ensure that India can build a stronger economic base for the 21st century.

From the End of the Beginning to the Beginning of the End

When Eric Raymond posted the first of the Halloween Documents in 1998, it marked the end of the beginning for open source. That is to say those documents demonstrated that the logical superiority of the open source development model had penetrated the most headstrong corporate skull in the proprietary software universe: Microsoft. The fact that Microsoft could judge major open source projects to be equal or possibly superior to their own efforts more than 10 years ago, and the fact that they recognized

The ability of the OSS process to collect and harness the collective IQ of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, OSS evangelization scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelization efforts appear to scale.

- Halloween I

that open source was getting better faster than they could ever hope to accomplish working by themselves. Yet instead of adopting these superior methods for the benefit of their customers, they formulated a strategy to lock-in customers, fence out competition, and essentially use the patent system in the opposite way it was intended, namely to frustrate progress in science and the useful arts, rather than promote it. Brian Kahin writes an article that tells us that Microsoft has signaled it has now reached the beginning of the end. But for whom?


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