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"Free" and "Open Source" Software: Navigating the Shibboleths

To outsiders, software whose source code is freely distributable is open source software. However, as soon as you become involved with the community that centers around such code, you quickly find that it is also called free software -- and that the two terms are far from synonymous.

Which term you choose to use can quickly associate you with a whole spectrum of political and philosophical beliefs, and can make the difference between receiving cooperation and being ostracized. As a newcomer, you might easily imagine that you have stumbled out of the woods and into the target end of a rifle range, all because of your innocent choice of jargon.

To make matters worse, knowing which of the two phrases to use is difficult, because they are used in several different ways. At the most basic level, they indicate a specific organization and its principles. At another level, the choice of terms may reflect your audience. And, at the most important level, your choice may reflect your ethical imperatives and your vision of the future of computing.

All these meanings blur together, and are heavily dependent on context, so much so that members of the communities can switch meaning in mid-conversation, and sometimes even in mid-sentence. They also carry the baggage of over a decade of co-existence and personal animosities.

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  • Open-source oriented RISELab emerges at UC Berkeley to make apps smarter & more secure
    UC Berkeley on Monday launched a five-year research collaborative dubbed RISELab that will focus on enabling apps and machines that can interact with the environment around them securely and in real-time. The RISELab (Real-time Intelligence with Secure Execution) is backed by a slew of big name tech and financial firms: Amazon Web Services, Ant Financial, Capital One, Ericsson, GE Digital, Google, Huawei, Intel, IBM, Microsoft and VMWare.
  • Telecom organizations boosting support for open source
    Organizational support for open source initiatives is easing the integration of platforms into the telecom world. One key challenge for growing the support of open source into the telecommunications space is through various organizations that are looking to either bolster the use of open source or build platforms based on open source specifications. These efforts are seen as beneficial to operators and vendors looking to take advantage of open source platforms.
  • Google's Draco: Another Open Source Tool That Can Boost Virtual Reality Apps
    With 2017 ramping up, there is no doubt that cloud computing and Big Data analytics would probably come to mind if you had to consider the hot technology categories that will spread out this year. However, Google is on an absolute tear as it open sources a series of 3D graphics and virtual reality toolsets. Last week, we covered the arrival of Google's Tilt Brush apps and virtual reality toolsets. Now, Google has delivered a set of open source libraries that boost the storage and transmission of 3D graphics, which can help deliver more detailed 3D apps. "Draco" is an open source compression library, and here are more details.
  • Unpicking the community leader
    Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day. Now, I have to admit, I don't usually partake in the day all that much. The skeptic in me thinks doing so could be a little self-indulgent and the optimist thinks that we should appreciate great community leaders every day, not merely one day a year. Regardless, in respect of the occasion, I want to delve a little into why I think this work is so important, particularly in the way it empowers people from all walks of life. In 2006 I joined Canonical as the Ubuntu Community Manager. A few months into my new role I got an email from a kid based in Africa. He shared with me that he loved Ubuntu and the traditional African philosophy of Ubuntu, which translated to "humanity towards others," and this made his interest in the nascent Linux operating system particularly meaningful.
  • Open Source Mahara Opens Moodle Further Into Social Learning
    Designers, managers and other professionals are fond of Open Source, digital portfolio solution Mahara. Even students are incorporating their progress on specific competency frameworks, to show learning evidence. Mahara and Moodle have a long and durable relationship spanning years, ―so much so that the internet has nicknamed the super couple as “Mahoodle“―. A recent post on Moodlerooms’ E-Learn Magazine documents the fruitful partnership as it adds value to New Zealander Catalyst IT’s offerings.
  • U.S. policy on open source software carries IP risks [Ed: Latest FUD from law firm against Free software as if proprietary software is risk-free licensing-wise?]

Openwashing and EEE

Q&A with Arpit Joshipura, Head of Networking for The Linux Foundation

Arpit Joshipura became the Linux Foundation’s new general manager for networking and orchestration in December 2016. He’s tasked with a pretty tall order. He needs to harmonize all the different Linux Foundation open source groups that are working on aspects of network virtualization. Joshipura may be the right person for the job as his 30 years of experience is broad — ranging from engineering, to management, to chief marketing officer (CMO) roles. Most recently he was VP of marketing with Prevoty, an application security company. Prior to that he served as VP of marketing at Dell after the company acquired Force10 Networks, where he had been CMO. Read more