Mass TLC Open Source Summit

I’m in the Boston area this week, so I decided to catch some local open source and Python events.

The Mass TLC held a 1/2 day Open Source summit on June 19th. I presented in the Lightning rounds. Andy Updegrove has a good post on the event so I’ll try not to duplicate his comments.

The first item on the agenda was a panel review of Open Source events from the past year, and GPL V3. It was a good review. However, I was somewhat surprised to learn that not everyone in the room was familiar with the GPL and open source licensing in general. I guess when you live and breathe this stuff, it’s easy to forget that Open Source is not a household word everywhere, and we always need to be prepared to explain the fundamental differences between proprietary and open source licenses. GPL V3 didn’t raise any controversy here, and even the Affero clause didn’t get a lot of discussion. I think we’re over the last hurdles, and into the home stretch.

The second item as a panel discussion on open source strategies. The first panel question, from moderator Jay Batson , was whether the Novell/Microsoft patent agreement was good for open source. Obviously, Microsoft and Novell considered this a good thing for Open Source. It was unfortunate to hear Iona second that. Kudos’ to Andy for asking the obvious question from the audience – “Is anyone aware of instances where patent protection has been needed by Unix or Linux users in the past 20 years ? ” The difference between east and west coast audiences also opened my eyes – I suspect the supporters of the patent agreement would have been booed off the stage in Silicon Valley.

The lightning rounds were exactly that – fast, 6 minute presentations, with a (friendly) buzzer at the end, moderated by Mark Withington of BostonPHP.org. I have uploaded my slides for reference.

The wrap up was a keynote from the One Laptop Per Child team. There has been so much focus on the hardware, it’s great to hear them talking about the software, and the decision to use entirely free software. It’s also good to hear that Python is their not so secret ‘secret weapon’ as well. The use of Python in the laptop project has been too much of a secret to the rest of the world, and it’s was good to see a strong Python presence at the summit.

This evening, I’ll be at the Cambridge Python Meetup Group. We will probably review the summit there, and I’ll post more comments after that.


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