This year’s Flourish Conference was held at the University of Illinois in downtown Chicago (UIC). The Flourish web site describes Flourish as:
The goal of the Flourish Conference is to promote the use and adoption of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) by demonstrating the practical applications of FLOSS in the business and academic world. While everyone is familiar with businesses that focus on creating non-free proprietary software, the same cannot be said for those who specialize in developing and supporting FLOSS software, and an Open Culture.
I missed a part of Bruce Perens’ Innovation Goes Public presentation due to Chicago’s closing several sidewalks that go over or under the tristate. I’m not quite sure I agree with him that the road a head for open source is all rosey. Perhaps I misunderstood him but it seemed to me that the idea of simply giving the source of an application to the public would allow the programmers to still be paid via the support/service agreements. This may work for some applications, but for others there wouldn’t be a sufficient number of support contracts to financially support the programmers Personally, I prefer open source but I will also pay for commercial proprietary software. I use what works.
The company I work for, Sungard Investment Systems, uses open source for many internal projects. One such product uses VMware and Linux for a portable monitoring system so I was highly interested in rBuilder Online from rPath. I attended the Appliance Development and Conary session presented by Stephanie Watson from rPath. I’m currently investigating on how well and easy it is to make a VMware appliance that would house a Sybase ASE server (DBMS) with no unnecessary os files. If the testing turns out well, I will ask my fellow Sybase ASE DBAs whether Sybase need certify it or whether we are ‘on our own’. The monitoring machine itself really doesn’t need Sybase ASE on it but since we have the license….
Dr. John Waclawsky, from Motorolla, gave a feel good presentation about the state of communication between wireless gadgets. The Revolution at the Edge of the Network Abstract. Short version: things are going to get very interesting in the next year
James Gray, from IBM, presented IBM’s Open Source Strategy – Turning Threat into Opportunity. While essentially a case study of how IBM has interacted as a semi-liason between the business executives and the open source community. IBM, to me, has seemed to be stuck in a love/hate relationship with open source and a dislike/hate relationship with the Free Software Foundation. That being said, it is necessary to give IBM credit giving credence to the open source community with the business executives. The IT folks no longer had to quietly use open source in the business but were free to use it extensively in many places. Linux, in particular, is no longer the wild west in many CTOs’ eyes but a integral part of their business.
I met Tony Wong in the Chicago Perl Mongers ‘booth’. We discussed the upcoming Yet Another Perl Conference (YAPC::NA 2008) that is being held in Chicago and the horrible documentation of the Catalyst MVC web framework. I informed him that the only way to learn Catalyst was the new book Catalyst by Jonathan Rockway (ISBN: 978-1-847190-95-6). I also warned him that the book should have gone through another round of proofreading prior to being published due to excessive example code errors, etc. I playfully suggested that Joshua McAdams be tormented because he wasn’t able to make it Friday morning.
The panel discussion on Friday afternoon was highly entertaining and a bit of a kangaroo court for Bobby Moore of Microsoft. I do not believe Mr. Moore was expecting Bruce Perens to repeatedly ask very pointed and informed questions. Moore did an excellent job of remaining cool and listening with an open mind to the criticism of Microsoft as a company. He explained that, yes, Microsoft did some not so nice things in the past but they are attempting to work with the open source community. Bruce Perens, Jon “Maddog” Hall, and James Bottomley brought up the pending MS Office OpenXML standard format issue where much of the format is proprietary and the published format won’t actually be used by Microsoft. Moore conceded that it was unlikely that Microsoft would use the published format as-is but the Office developers would likely base the actually used format off of the published format. Perens, Hall, Bottomley and James Gray all expressed their opinions that this was very typical of Microsoft. (side note: Microsoft has been accused of having the attitude of Embrace, Extend, Eliminate when it comes to industry standards.)
Perens, Hall and James Bottomley, as well as members of the audience, pummeled both James Gray of IBM and Bobby Moore of Microsoft for their companies’ approach and support of software patents.
Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the first day as my mother was in town from North Dakota to visit my three month old daughter (and the rest of us). If only I could have cloned myself… Don’t forget to check out the Flickr photo group for the Flourish 2008 Conference in Chicago!