The Dream Inspires - The Transfer Summit

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Andrew Grant's picture

I still find it inspirational that meeting each other at conferences and watering holes can spark off whole new lines of thought.
The Transfer Summit was a great example of this - professional but relaxed in an evocative setting that allowed hackers/developers, journalists, business and acadaemia to interact with a real level of informality. Getting together not only to exchange information but to challenge orthodoxy and generate ideas - and was well attended by luminaries from Red Hat (Phil Andrews) Simon Phipps and our own Stormy Peters, Andrew Back and Martin Michlmayr (and no, he doesn't always wear that baseball shirt with the blue sleeves.)


Of particular interest is where the tectonic plates of self-interest collide; take for example dual licensing, where vendors have a commercial and community licensing structure. Surely this is beneficial in theory yet in practice some of the former poster children for Open Source in business who are now viable commercial entities are being questioned about their true commitment. If the licensing means that the unsupported community edition is positioned as the poor relation triggering friction with the supporting community then is this stifling innovation or stimulating it? Contrast that with the Red Hat model where both Fedora (RH) and independently CentOS have found their own respective places in the ecosystem. Red Hat claims to spend around $130million per annum on research related expenditure which surely spreads the benefit around the industry, marketplace and the community.


Which raises another issue - translating licenses into action. Complexity breeds cost, so one of our aims should be to reduce complexity. The proliferation of license types and the importance of understanding the obligations of software we produce, consume or repackage is an ongoing issue for many organisations. So, perhaps not surprisingly, Licensing provoked some robust exchanges. And exposed some of the conundrums about the compatibility of some licenses (e.g. BSD and GPLv3). The Mozilla foundation have been looking at their MPL licensing in terms of making it easier and this resulted in heated debate (in a good way.) Still, who knows - some of the discussions about machine readable SPDX, and whether to have the manifest without or within may have prompted a real way forward. Personally, I'm in favour of anything that codifies and simplifies.


So check out the news from the Transfer Summit ( look under "Community" and go to "Live coverage" where you'll find commentary from the event as it happened and where I found a witty blog from osswatch which inspired me to seek out a presentation by Steven Pemberton, who set himself the challenge of getting from 1609 to Open Source in 45 minutes. He also quoted the legendary Bruce Tognazzini's book, "Tog on Interface" - I'm the other person who bought that book and I can thoroughly recommend it.


So from Oxford's dreaming spires to being inspired, never underestimate the value of a meeting of like minds.




Steven Pemberton