Notes from OSS 2009 Plenary Speaker Stormy Peters

Stormy's Talk was mainly about how Open Source Software Changed Things. My notes below are taken quickly and are not edited.

-In the past there were completely different stacks, and now people from different industries work together. People from chip manufacturers, application developers, etc work together.
-OSS also changed the way we teach computer programming.
-The software in the past was free, and the more important thing was to sell hardware.
-Now instead of trying to write a script to solve your problems, you are googling to see if somebody else did this first.
-Open source didn't make all this happen, also chat rooms, search, etc made this happen. But open source brought some standards.
-Open source is not all that new, enterprises have been using that in a while, but now non-software companies are using them too.
-Now the mobile industry changed-- they are using OSS but not to save money. They aren't looking for a new business model. They now are looking for technology, because customers are looking for it, and OSS provides flexible. The same software looks different in different phones. OSS speeds up testing and thus reduces time-to-market. The mobile industry don't want to reinvent the wheel and have more software developers, and have a huge staff. These companies need to work with upstream suppliers. Stormy went to a mobile company and asked for hardware so that the oss developers can fix problems in the software, but they kept sending her around to the manufacturer, the chip vendor, etc.

-Hardware vendor's role was making the hardware. Now they can partner with linux distributors, or partner with Intel with Moblin (user interface that uses Gnome technology, and was founded by Intel) or make their own. The OSS forces hardware vendors to make choices now.
-When you buy netbook in Target, the linux and windows box costs the same. The hardware vendor puts more hardware in the linux box to even out.
-So now that these companies use the same OSS, how do they differentiate?
They differentiate on hardware, operating system, interfaces, apps, service plans... In fact they are now differentiating on everything. They build their own user interface and their own usability testing.

-The customers now expect more. OSS affects different stuff: scientific educational devices, supersonic image (medical) device, DVRs, printers, GPSes, tablets, phones, netbooks, TVs.
-Challenge of GPL: The producers of say printers can ship the sourcecode to the regular users, but how do they avoid the extra phone calls they will get from the users?
-A professor from the Bordeaux University works with GNOME, they identify non-urgent bugs, they learn to read the code, fix the bug and submit it -- trains people on software that would support good causes. This way more people are involved than people who are only interested in software. And then the students (including women) get hands-off experience.
- Individuals work on Gnome, learn and then get a job working with Gnome.
- In the past, the developers in software industry didn't know each other, but now they go to conferences, share information and support each other.

- With OSS, now there are more integrated and more complex products. Complex products can be problematic for companies, since they find out that when they download a software to use a feature, they find that they need to support additional 20 products that are bundled in.

1) Selling support and services: eg: Redhat charges for updates and support. When you sign a support contract with them, you also give away a bit of your open source rights. They support only what they gave the company, not what companies changed. They also cannot install the redhat into a hundred machines without buying support for them.

Companies needed to change the internal processes so that they can get their changes back into the community faster. Some of the practices they put in place are: 1) They assigned people in Sun who are in charge of say given 10 modules, and are responsible for making sure their fixes get into the core gnome, etc. 2) If individuals fix bugs and don't get it into the upstream, they have higher testing requirements, so this creates additional incentives.

3) DUAL LICENSES: eg: mysql. We will release the same code, same binaries under two different licences. Companies are willing to pay because they don't want to have to GPL their own softaware code. "Some people have more time than money and others have more money than time" Marten Mickos.
4) HARDWARE ENABLEMENT: You need a software to enable
5) ADVERTISING: Any advertisement that you get because you type in a search word in Mozilla generates revenue that goes to Mozilla, for example.

NETBOOKS: Runs on linux and is very cheap. This started with one laptop per child movement and then people thought they could make money off of small laptops.
The screen of the netbooks are DVD players.. Traditional companies had to match what is done by open source software
Bank of America, and Merril Lynch are using OSS openly in the infrastructure. She thinks almost all banks use OSS for non-financial apps, but they don't want to appear to use a risky approach, and thus are not public about it.

--What would be some research problems that Gnome is facing?
- Things that would help establish the credibility of gnome would help-- Such as how many people worked on it, etc.
- Who are the users of OSS? What is the user/developer interaction? If they have a problem with Gnome, where do they go, what do they do?
- It would be nice, if the research on Gnome were in a blogs, rather than a paper at the end. A blog would get responses from the community and would affect the community.
- What defines open data? How do we make data more open?
Stormy is now trying to put together a usability study. She invites participants (she's trying to bring in funding from companies)