This document recapitulates and examines a portion of the Free Software and Open Source Symposium, FSOSS. There will be a brief introduction of FSOSS followed by a list of topics I have attended. The main focus then centers on two of the presentations, as it will include a detailed summary of key points as well as an analysis of them. Furthermore, there will be a compare and contrast of the two presentations with some of the thoughts that crosses my mind.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Summaries
- 3 Analysis
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 Reference
The Free Software and Open Source Symposium, FSOSS event aimed at bringing together people from across the world to discuss common Open Source concerns, learn new Open Source technologies and to forecast upcoming focuses in the Open Source community. The symposium includes short tutorials and demonstrations along with frank discussions and exchange of ideas presented by Professors, Developers, Graduates all around the world. Fortunately, I learned about the event from the course DPS909, and have an opportunity to be present at such a big event.
Here’s the 6 presentations that I went to:
- 9:00 – 10:00 Creating an Animated Twitter Widget for your Website with Processing.js by Alistair MacDondald
- 10:00 – 11:00 Ranking the Bugs: Predicting Which Bugs Will Get Fixed by Diederik van Liere
- 11:00 – 12:00 A View from the Gallery: a tour of the JVM Alternative Languages by Newman Hunter
- 13:00 – 14:00 Tiki Profiles - An App Store Approach to Enabling Collaboration using the TikiWiki Platform by Nelson Ko and Pascal St-Jean
- 14:00 – 15:00 Open Source for fun and profit: making a career out of FOSS by Khalid Baheyeldin
- 15:00 – 16:00 3D in the browser... more than just Doom by Catherine Leung
Tiki Profiles – An App Store Approach to Enabling Collaboration using the TikiWiki Platform
Pascal St-Jean is a Director of Business Development with Citadel Rock Online Communities. He was the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of PicSphere Technologies. He has a great passion in engineering in which his goal is to turn engineer and business strategy into successful ventures. He is an active member of the TikiWiki community with major interest in creating, growing and promoting Tiki Profiles. He has over 6 years of technology consulting and IT management experience. His current interests are Open Source business models and Social Media Marketing.
TikiWiki is a Content Management System (CMS). It is a powerful web based application created by developers from the CMS and Groupware project. It is a wiki software engine. It allows user to build and maintain web applications, sites, portals, knowledge bases such as wikis, groupware, CMS, Forums, Blogs, and many others. There are five partners in across Canada using TikiWiki. It is free source software which is using PHP, Smarty, ADOdb, Zend Framework and JQuery. It offers a large number of "out-of-the-box" features. It is highly configurable and all features are administered via a web-based interface. It also supports up to 35+ languages.
TikiWiki has been developed since 2002 with over 170 developers. They actively develop on the source code and keep TikiWiki up to date with the new technologies to suit a large number of users. The help function (shortcut – F1 on keyboard) in Mozilla, Firefox is powered by TikiWiki. The largest usage is approximately 16 million visitors per month.
Since TikiWiki uses large amounts of new technologies and allows users to build different web applications, the problem with that is it adds complexity. It is more suitable for power users. It is harder for adoption because the learning curve is steep. To solve this kind of concern in order to expand the community to average users, an end-to-end one click configuration system called Tiki Profile is created using YAML technology. YAML is a human readable serialization, similar to the idea of XML. Everything including look and feel, features and sample data can be configured into the system using Tiki Profiles. The community can create a profile for corporate intranet and personal blogs. The best thing about TikiWiki is there is a Profile Repository for users to participate in creating profiles, or just simply acquire a profile for easy setup.
Open Source for fun and profit: making a career out of FOSS
Khalid Baheyeldin is the co-founder and managing partner with 2bits.com. He provides Drupal services to clients and is one of the most active developers for Drupal. The Drupal project is an Open Source CMS. His contributions to Drupal project involve offline features, watchdog hooks, an automatic whitelist for path alias and others. He provides Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP consulting. He mostly focus on Drupal includes customization, development, performance tuning and optimization.
Khalid focuses more on the benefits that an Open Source software/community brings. The biggest difference between Closed Source and Open Source is who the winners are. In order for a Closed Source corporation to be successful, it must try to gain as much market share as possible in the expense of the competitor's. This model suggests monopolism, which corporations are more focused into providing better results with respect to what the competitors have. This results in less creativity in the products, and this type of market is not considered to be healthy. This model also leads to high barrier for developers to enter the market since corporations always look for efficiency that their employees provide. Besides, developers are paid to deliver their work, the corporation claims the development of their work. They are often not noticed or appreciated, which might lower their morality. Moreover, there is a common issue in most paid jobs - the office politics and hierarchy structure. It happens a lot that colleagues will do something harmful to others in order to move up the hierarchy. Therefore, Closed Source business model is a very destructive and antagonist affiliation, and can be summarized as a win-lose-lose situation to the corporation, the market, and the developers themselves.
Open Source on the other hand is a win-win-win situation. The capital and ongoing cost can be minimal as there are typically fewer employees needed to organize an Open Source community than to operate a Closed Source corporation. It always contains many different choices for maintenance. For example, it can be in house, consulting companies, freelancers or the community. Since Open Source means everyone in the world is free to get involved to develop the software, it can draw a high number of programmers. This helps to find bugs easier and respond to them quicker. Also, the features of the products will be focusing on what the market wants instead of how Closed Source strategy works. As a result, a better product is available to the market. Since the barrier of entry is low, programmers benefit from having experiences with full functioning products where otherwise need to be employed by large corporations in order to get access to the source codes. There are no office politics where nobody would want anybody to fail in doing his/her work. Again, in terms of the corporation's, the market's, and the developers' point of view, Open Source is a win-win-win situation rather than Close Source's win-lose-lose situation.
There are a few types of license for Open Source software. BSD variants, users can do whatever they want, including closing it off, for example, NetBSD for Apple OS/X. GPL, general public license; it is the most popular and well-known example of strong copyleft license. GPL grants users the rights of free software definitions and uses copyleft to ensure the freedoms are preserved. Mozilla is a weak copyleft, which refers to those license are not all derived works inherit the copyleft license. It is generally used for the creation of software libraries which allow other software to link to that library and redistributed without legal requirement for the work.
Some of the business models for the Open Source are:
- Sell the hardware that uses software, there are many embedded device use Linux. For example, Google Android, Palm Premobile, Nokia n900. Linux is an Open Source product, but when the business embedded Linux in their product, they can make a profit with lower operating cost.
- Sell hardware with a proprietary applications and the operating system as a commodity.
In 2bits.com, Inc's case, they specialize in custom development for web sites, especially based on the Drupal Content Management System and framework. Drupal as a community is the most important asset of Drupal. It collectively is the ones who use, support, promote and improve the project.
Open Source can be fun and profitable. A person can contribute the code, it is better for the developer and also for the clients. In return they will receive bug fixes, features and upgrades. It will also provide documentation, advocacy, marketing, event organizing and fundraising. A person only provides a small portion and in return they receive much more.
Tiki Profiles - An App Store Approach to Enabling Collaboration using the TikiWiki Platform
The approach of using Tiki profile is the most interesting feature. There are multiples ways to configuring the settings of a program. Developers usually will use GUI to configure, but the disadvantage of using GUI is involving repetitive task to perform similar functions for multiple program. For example, when people want to setup five computer using Windows, they need to repeatedly click on the same settings five times in order to configure. With the Tiki profile, user only requires few simple clicks to configure the same settings for multiple programs. The reason why the two speakers are willing to support the concept of TikiWiki is because TikiWiki is not only for the Open Source developers to get benefit from the Tiki's source code but the concept extends to end users as well. The developers definitely can share the code, but the end users can also share their Tiki profile. They can participate to share and help each others in the Profile Repository. Although the speakers mainly focus on the product itself, I can sense that their passion to pass out the Open Source concept to the public.
Open Source for fun and profit: making a career out of FOSS
Baheyeldin has mentioned many benefits for participating in Open Source community. The most interesting concept that caught my attention is the way people can earn a living from Open Source community. One of the few barriers for entering Open Source community is that people do not get the return for what they have contributed immediately. People earn reputation and experiences in an easier way than Closed Source which is very beneficial for free lancer or consultant. They can use these reputation and experience as their assets when looking for jobs. There are many developers in the market, not many of them have Open Source experience. For example, DPS909 is one of the very few Open Source development courses offered by Ontario institutions. These experiences and reputation become very valuable for program developers which make them unique.
The FSOSS gathered people around the world to share and discuss different things in the Open Source community. Each speaker has their own thoughts and opinion on the Open Source platform. But they all are aiming toward the same destination.
Open Source is fun and profitable. According to The BBC report, the statistics has shown of the 16 to 50 years old surveyed, those who download illegally (not willing to buy products prior to fully utilizing them) spend more than $126 average on music per year. On the other hand, those that who don't do any file-sharing activities only spend $72 average. The money the pirates spend is far more than the normal shoppers who only use what they have purchased. It is because people are more willing to purchase something they have good experienced with rather than to purchase something only with good reputation. Similarly to Open Source platform, although we are not charge to download the Open Source software but as Baheyeldin had mentioned earlier, we can use other ways to make profit with the product that use Open Source software.