This open-source personal crypto-key vault wants two things: To make the web safer ... and your donationsSubmitted by Rianne Schestowitz on Tuesday 14th of April 2015 10:01:44 PM Filed under
An open-source hardware project aimed at making the internet "a little bit safer" needs an influx of cash to continue its work.
The Cryptech effort was created following revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the US government and its pals are exploiting standards and weak crypto algorithms to gain access to citizens' private correspondence and documents.
I have long believed that open source is where society innovates. When we can build technology together, we can explore, experiment, and do great things. This is why open source runs the infrastructure of the world and many of the devices in our homes and pockets.
Part of the reason why open source works is that we figured out how to work together effectively to improve and refine technology. We often talk about community in the open source world but I think we often forget, or don't realize, just how weird our communities are.
The move is the latest step for Curoverse, a startup that emerged from George Church’s Personal Genome Project at Harvard. The PGP was a plan led by Church to sequence more than 100,000 genomes in the U.S. and link them to individuals’ health information. (The same kind of aggregation, but of 1 million people’s genomic and other health information, is a goal of the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative.) Church needed a massive database to house all that information, and that’s what led to the creation of Arvados. It’s a database capable of storing giant amounts of genomic information, it’s shareable, it can run on both public and private cloud services, and it’s an open source platform, so anyone can use or modify the source code.
RDO is a version of OpenStack designed for use on CentOS, a Linux distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Actually, "based on" is a bit of a stretch, because CentOS is basically the RHEL source code recompiled by third parties—which is totally legal and kosher with Red Hat, of course, since the source is open. The only difference between CentOS and RHEL is that the former comes with no enterprise-class support or ecosystem integration.
For the concluding part of may talk, I explored how this open source methodology manifested itself in the world of open publishing. The fact that it is net-based is hugely important, because it means that the barrier to publishing has been lowered almost to the point of disappearing. That matters, because as A. J. Liebling famously said: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one". Today, thanks to the Internet, we have all the advantages of owning a press without any of the massive costs or organisational issues.
I've felt this tension firsthand. My company, PencilBlue, an open source content management system, was instantly dismissed by a well-known venture capitalist because, as he put it, "No website creation tool makes money unless it completely gets rid of the need for developers." This is someone who made seed investments in multiple household-name tech startups, and he had no clue that more than 70% of all websites are created by developers and that the $21 billion web development industry is ruled by open source platforms.
That open source startups are hard to find in the investment-first ecosystem is not surprising, because they're usually started by people who actually build the product. Most of the time, seeking early stage investment for an open source product doesn't make financial sense. On the other hand, there's much to be gained from the business and marketing knowledge in local startup communities, so being sequestered from them can put open source developers at a disadvantage.
The recent news around Nebula shutting its doors has stirred speculation that OpenStack startups are struggling because of the state of the OpenStack market. There is even a piece claiming that the OpenStack dream is on “life support.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that winning in open source requires a playbook that is drastically different from one that most VCs investing in technology today are used to.
When I started Free Software Magazine, over 10 years ago, it was a very different world. Magazines still mattered, Facebook was a primitive site for university students, Digg was about to become a huge new site (before disappearing a few years later), and... did I mention that Magazines still mattered?
Fast-forward to 2015: it has been 11 years. While I can say that for the first time I have contributed to an exciting free software project with a few thousands lines of code, Hotplate -- and believe me, I've been keeping busy -- I was forced to put Free Software Magazine in hiatus in order to complete Hotplate.
Sirius is an open source, customizable system that can be commanded through vocal input. It has been built by University of Michigan researchers and is similar to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now. According to University of Michigan, Sirius “is designed to spark a new generation of intelligent personal assistants” for wearables and other devices."
The definition of open source can get complicated (especially when you start talking about licensing). Essentially open source software makes the source code freely available for use and/or modification, free of charge.
This could give the impression that open source is for hobbyists and amateurs, but you will probably recognize the names of some major open source users: The Emmys, The Grammy Foundation, NBC, CBS and Sony, all use Metal Toad Media to develop their websites with open source tools.