Day 4 at foss.in

It is a chilly morning (note to myself: ensure frequent trips to Speaker’s Lounge to get that good coffee) and here I am at the LinuxChix Stall trying to compose a live blog between distractions of meeting and (re)meeting friends and of course Shreyas dragging me to Simon’s talk – now that was even more irrational. I had planned not to attend any talks today and sit down to hammer out an agenda for the Software Testing BoF which is scheduled for 1700 today (note for Tejas: dude you rocked y’day when you helped out with the BoF, do the same magic today). Is it only me or does everyone feel that the 750 seater is a really cosy and cold place to fall asleep. I hope I don’t start snoring in the middle of the talk which I think is about the bounty aka the Community Innovation Awards. There’s some very strummy music being played over the speakers and all I see on screen is a hell lot of graphics. I *so* need my coffee

Ok, this bit gets interesting –  being introduced by Atul as someone who “gets it” Simon seems to attempt putting the context of Free Software (FOSS) or more precisely the reason for existence in the backdrop of social topologies evolving through the agrarian and industrial revolutions. FOSS is just a means of expression of the global mesh that has been a fallout of the industrial revolution. That’s fairly interesting although a pity that he does not expound too much on that. That is something that you can generally relate to in the context of the “World is Flat” paradigm. He quotes a Gartner report stating “By 2012 70% of commercial software would contain FOSS bits” . Simon also touches a bit about how “we must learn to co-exist” by giving a few examples of conflict or possibilities of such, as well as touching upon license proliferation. “Sun should not think about the business it wants to do, but think more about the community” so as to ensure that it fits in with the community. License proliferation limits free software to originating companies by creating little isolated bubbles which limits innovation and forms a barrier to contributions. He estimates the need for Category Convergence in Free Software licenses. “Software Patents are bananas” and a vehicle that allow predatory behavior.  Corporate employees are more prone to file software patents as part of their corporate development. “Software Patents don’t help engineers to learn new skills”. Covenants better means to deal with software patents than grants. However, the optimal way would be to use Free Software licenses that deal with software patents more intelligently. Right now only “strong rich patrons” are the best defence against software patent trolls aka have a bear on your side to win the battle. Touching upon trademarks using Firefox as an example who used trademarks towards brand relevance.

Transparency is key to community but transparency != democracy but meritocracy. Distributed Authority is perhaps a good way to handle community. Not everyone is in a community for the same reason, people gather around a Free Software commons forming a coherent community with a defined aim : Co-developer community, Deployer-Developer Community and User Community is one of the ways of looking at a community. Standard rules of corporate development including remote development is not the way to engage with the community. Get up close and personal – shake hands. Posturing is != doing Open Source. Travesties and pretensions are dealt sternly with and a corporation which just wants to add the logo on their marketing PR.

In short, this time 1m $ distributed at community discretion is the Sun Open Source Community Innovation Awards.

A short note

A lot of people seem to think that Planet FLOSS India is “my” planet. Rest assured it is not. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will find that the contact person is somewhat different. Feel free to mark a copy of the mail to me, but don’t go around mailing everybody as to why your feed was not added or why it was removed from the planet. That adds to the confusion and does not allow leverage.