quoting an Athenian in ancient Greece who said, "The difference between
a man and a sheep is that the sheep just bleats, but a man keeps saying
the same thing in different ways until he gets what he wants." O'Reilly
takes the Athenian's tack, declaring, "There are many things that I want
to have happen in this world. I keep talking about them and bit by bit,
some of them are coming true."
One place where O'Reilly and other open source visionaries repeatedly
evangelize their goals for open source software in different ways--and get
some of them to come true--is the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON),
returning to Portland, OR from July 26-30. Open source tools are being
used to cruise Mars and plumb the secrets of genomes-- unthinkable
achievements when the convention started seven years ago. Apache runs
more than half of the world's web sites. Linux is making headlines thanks
to a legal donnybrook involving corporate giants.
However, as open source opportunities multiply, so do the growing pains.
Notes OSCON program chair Nathan Torkington, "Open source mindshare is
gained and lost, not by legal battles, but by technical and economic
decisions by developers, administrators, and their managers asking
'What's the ROI if we move to Linux?' 'Can I do this project in PHP?'
'Is Mono stable enough for our next project?'"
Torkington has planned this year's OSCON to tackle these issues and many
more. Skill-related topics, like new tools and programming language
changes, will be featured alongside strategic ones: How are open source
languages intertwining, both with each other and with commercial products?
If "open source" moves to "open services," who will the players be in this
new space, and what are the deeper implications for software and
applications? How will business models continue to morph to accommodate
open source's proliferation?
The keynote speakers for OSCON 2004 embody open source's diversity and its
adoption into the enterprise: Freeman, Esther, and George Dyson praise the
concept of "open thinking"; AT&T Wireless' Robert Lefkowitz deconstructs
the semasiology of open source; Milton Ngan of Weta Digital wraps up his
LOTR keynote trilogy; Novell's Vice Chairman Chris Stone talks about
making open source a mainstream reality; Bdale Garbee, Linux CTO of HP,
delves into the continuing importance of community development; and Tim
O'Reilly outlines new trends creeping onto his radar.
By day, other OSCON stalwarts such as Damian Conway, Guido van Rossum,
Monty Widenius, Eric Raymond, Theodore Ts'o, and Mitchell Kapor lead
convention sessions and panels focusing on Linux, PHP, Python, Perl,
Apache, XML, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Security (new this year), Emerging Topics,
Java, and Ruby. At night, event plans include:
- An SCO Moot Court, organized by UC Berkeley law professor Pam Samuelson
and Groklaw founder Pamela Jones
- NASA's Jeff Norris sharing how open source software played a major role
in operating the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers,
illustrated with pictures and anecdotes
- Larry Wall's perennial "State of the Onion" address
- A talk by Paul Graham, author of the upcoming "Hackers & Painters"
- A sprinkling of award presentations, including the first-ever Open
Source Awards presented by the Open Source Initiative and ZDNet
- Receptions with authors, both at the convention and at Portland's
inimitable Powell's Books
Speaking about the future of open source, O'Reilly notes, "Most of the big
killer apps of the Internet are built on top of open source, but they're
not themselves open source. So, there's a real challenge for open source
developers. The whole model is challenged." While there may be challenges
ahead and differences between open source and commercial software,
technology is on a path leading to more choices, more opportunities, and
an even larger open source community. It's a welcome iteration at the
O'Reilly Open Source Convention.
For complete convention details, visit:
An OSCON program overview can be found at:
For a list of keynote presentations, go to:
To review speaker bios, see:
For more information about evening events, visit:
Press coverage, blogs, photos, and news from last year's convention can be
For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the
convention, contact Andrew Calvo at (707) 827-7176, or
For more information on open source issues, visit the O'Reilly Network:
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