FSOSS 2014 Report
At this year’s FSOSS, I have attended five presentations. And each speaker explored their different ways in which open source is being used around the world to enhance various sectors of industry such as education, emerging hardware, and software. Chris Aniszczyk, who is the current Engineering Manager of Open Source at Twitter, briefly introduced how Twitter made their approach to change their infrastructure in order to meet the super heavy traffic, and how they evolve in open source development. Bob Young, Red Hat’s Co-Founder, told us his success story in open source business. Fred Dixon, BigBlueButton web conference system project manager, talked about the current state of HTML5 Client, Mobile Client and 0.9 Beta release of BigBlueButton. In this report, I am going to compare and analyze two topics which are among my most interesting topics list during this FSOSS. One is Professor David Humphrey’s keynote presentation, his topic is Open Source as leverage; the other is Chris Aniszczyk’s open source at Twitter.
- David Humphrey, who is teaching me open source development this semester, is a founding member of, and professor in the Centre for Development of Open Technology at Seneca. His research and teaching is focused on the open web. David is also a long time Mozilla developer and project member, and works with the Mozilla Foundation. His work with Mozilla includes projects like Processing.js, Popcorn.js, implementing various web standards in Firefox (WebVTT, Mouse Lock, Audio API, etc), and helping to lead the Webmaker project.
- Chris Aniszczyk is the current Engineering Manager of Open Source at Twitter, a key pillar at the heart of the social media revolution. Since 2011, Chris has been leading Twitter’s open source efforts through the creation of open source programs, managing inbound and outbound licensing of open source software, and pushing for the evolution of Twitter’s open source strategy. Mr. Aniszczyk worked with IBM for four years on the eclipse.org project and was an Open Source developer in Gentoo Foundation. Chris currently sits on the Eclipse Foundation’s board of directors, having co-founded Code9 Consulting in 2008.
Speakers’ main points
Every single educated people should have known Archimedes’ law of the lever: "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it". Through explaining what the recently happened Heartbleed bug is, why it happened, how it was fixed, and the number of users, engineers, and computers were affected in this bug, Professor David Humphrey demonstrate the leverage power of Open Source technologies and the community.
Many businesses are unaware of the day-to-day requirements of working with free and open-source software. Chris Aniszczyk’s presentation helps us to understand the various ways of interacting with open source projects and how to get the most benefits of it. Chris introduced a brief history about Twitter, Twitter’s infrastructure, and he summarized Twitter’s open source operating principles in one tweet: Use Open, Assume Open, Define Secret Sauce, Measure Everything, Default to GitHub, Default to Permissive, Acquire and Open, Pay it Forward.
Why Open Source
The Heartbleed bug is already being labelled one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. The bug has affected many popular websites and services — ones you might use every day, like Gmail and Facebook — and could have quietly exposed your sensitive account information (such as passwords and credit card numbers) over the past two years; however, it seems that most individual users, business users, and other organization users don’t have any plans to stop using OpenSSL. Why Google’s engineers contributed their efforts to fix the bug? Why Twitter considers what they are developing will be opened in the future and pretending the whole world will be watching? Both David and Chris have similar views on the popularity and importance of open source. When David asked the audiences to put their hands up if they are using Gmail, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, or YouTube, almost all audiences in the room showed their both hands and stood up. You can tell the percentage of people are using open source technologies. Twitter, as a business user of open source technologies, does realize the power of open source. They are using, supporting, and developing hundreds of different open source projects.
When individual developers think of open source, they think "free." And with good cause: Who in their right mind wouldn't be interested in technology that they can get at no cost and use with few licensing restrictions? When companies think of open source, these days they think "business agility," a quality they increasingly value above all others in the fast-changing marketplace. There are several important reasons that business would willing to use and support open source software:
- Open source keeps business costs down. They don’t have to pay anything to use open source technologies to support their business, and they can spend their time and money to do what they want.
- If you use open source technologies wisely, the quality of the software usually will be improved continually. As we all know that there is no bug-free software in the world, but if hundreds and thousands of developers are working on the same project, the quality of the software is likely better than others.
- It is much easier to find talent in open source community.
In sum, during this FSOSS event, I get better understanding about how and why business interact with open source community, how to succeed as an open source individual user, contributor, project owner, or business user. What does open source mean to me? As an open source contributor, open source improves my programming skills, gives me sense of achievement, and connects me with the community. I love open source, and I am open source.