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Toronto Open Source Conference Report 86

derrickoswald writes "Today's Ottawa Citizen is running a report in the TechWeekly section on the recent open source conference in Toronto organized by U of T's interdisciplinary Knowledge Media Design Institute and last month's Real World Linux trade show. It highlights the extremely poor Extremadura region of Spain's success story using open source to bootstrap themselves technologically. Quotes from FOSS luminaries include: 'Who controls the software, controls life. Well, it had better us. That's the real political meaning of the free software movement,' said Eben Moglen. Open source 'was the default way you built Internet Infrastructure. You wrote code and released it without trying to commercialize and monetize it,' said Brian Behldendorf." Newsforge (also part of OSDN) has a series of reports on the conference: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.
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Toronto Open Source Conference Report

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  • Open Source software is about controlling life? I wonder that was what RMS was really thinking.
    • Open Source software is about controlling life... on the internet.

      Better now?
    • ... pretty much control everything unless you are living extremely primitive out in the wild someplace. Mod-erne life as we know it is totally enmeshed in it, so ya, open source is going to be an even more powerful aspect to all our lives in the future. Even non computerised "life" interacts with computerised life, if you think about it. All our goods and services are getting more and more dependent on it, it's critical part of it now. and it sure didn't take very long, either, we went from just a few compu
  • aaah... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by imidazole2 ( 776413 )
    "They have adopted entirely the ideology of freedom that is part of this software movement," said Ghosh, program leader at the International Institute of Infonomics

    I couldnt have said it better....
  • PowerPoint? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2004 @11:47AM (#9140194)

    PowerPoint was required
    Behlendorf led off with a comment that he is not used to PowerPoint -- the presentation software of choice for the conference, which is running Windows XP -- and apologized in advance if the PowerPoint requirement caused him to slip up, because he said he is used to the variant of the software.

    Any idea why PowerPoint/XP were chosen in the first place, seeing as it's an OpenSource conference?

    • My Guess... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TamMan2000 ( 578899 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:04PM (#9140383) Journal
      ... is that the facility hosting the conferance had computers and projectors in all of the conference rooms already...
    • Well, people always say they want Microsoft to go open-source... Someone just intepreted it the wrong way.
    • Re:PowerPoint? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Emunix ( 135320 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:08PM (#9140426) Homepage
      Yeah... all of our conference spaces at U of T are equipped with XP and PowerPoint and I doubt our techs were going to bother switching for the conference when they'll need to load XP and PowerPoint again for summer section professors who are used to PowerPoint.
      • All they had to do was install Acrobat Reader and Openoffice on their existing Windows XP machines then they could show PDF's and OOo Impress Presentations. Its pretty damned incompetent that all their machines don't have Reader installed as a default. The machines would still be ready for your summer section professors to show their ppt's only they would just have more capabilities.

        How about the mathematicians and physicists at U of T don't they use LaTex and convert their PS to PDF for presentations li

    • Re:PowerPoint? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cecil ( 37810 )
      Because, while the people with PDF files, OpenOffice presentations, and such were mostly amenable to either converting them to PowerPoint, or simply using their own computers, the majority of the presenters could not/would not use anything other than PowerPoint.

      Remember that people from all walks of open-source life were at this conference, including Microsoft's manager of their Shared Source initiative, government officials, non-technical people, even people who were basically arguing against F/OSS.

    • I'm sorry but the answer seems totally obvious to me.

      What percentage of desktops use Linux? And how about OO?

      Windows and MSOffice are the default. Even open-source advocates have to use them sometimes. My friends send me Word documents as if they were text. It's called a monopoly.

      So when UofT is deciding what software to support for their conference fascilities, what do you think they are going to choose? Yes, perhaps they could make an exception for one conference, but that would be an extra cost (
  • The Messiah (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who controls the software, controls life.

    Does that mike Linus the Kwisatz Haderach?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Depends on how you look at it. Since "the ability to destroy a thing is to control a thing" this could just a easily be said of Bill G.
  • by Otter ( 3800 )

    Behlendorf's specific experience comes from his background with the Apache project. Apache, he told the audience, was founded on top of the NCSA Web server code which was licensed as what amounted to public domain -- with credit. Eight developers wanted to combine their patches for the NCSA Web server together; thus Apache's name (apache = A Patchy Web server).

    Gee, Brian -- you and may want to compare notes [] on this one.

  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @11:53AM (#9140268)
    That might be true for a small number of of obsessed geeks but the majority of people dont give a monkeys about who controls software. To them its just another product and their interest ends as soon as they have finished reading their email or their computer controlled car tells them it needs an oil change.
    • Heh. Not. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:09PM (#9140438) Homepage
      Computer software *does* control your life.

      For the vast majority of people in inddustrialized countries, softwate controls how they get paid, how the bank maanges their money, how companies track their habits, how they buy goods and services, how their cars work, how *they* work, how they get to work, how they have fun, how they communicate. It controls nearly every piec eof equipment in the modern military. Getting through a day without interacting with a piece of software is near impossible unless you're on a caomping trip in the middle of the woods.

      Pretty soon, software is going to be controlling your whole household. It's going to control every applianc ein the house. It's going to control your security system. It's going to control all communications in and out of that house, and it will all be unified.

      So here is the doomsday scenario - in 25-30 years, when this is all in place, if one monopoly controls all this software, they *control society*. All they have to do is hide some backdoors well enough to slip through detection and they have it made. Who would be there to stop them? Anyone who spoke out on any public forum is automatically detected and flagged as a terrorist in the national database.

      Open Source software, especially for anything at the national infastructure / military level, should be *paramount* on people's mids. The only reason it is not is an educational one. Us people in the know really need to get the word out on why this is important, because as software becomes mroe powerful, we're treading downa slippery slope.

      • Last I checked, the FOSS geeks control very little. People who don't know/care about controlling software seem to be increasing the control they do have exponentially.
      • don't worry, in 30 years we will start running out of fossil fuels and nobody will be able to power all those computers.
        • I think we'll run out of cheap for civilians liquid petroleum productrs well before 30 years, it will be so expensive in terms of BTUS to get more BTUs only the worlds ultra rich and some governments will use it. They will force-switch us peons back to coal, and build more nukes, along with mass adoption of technologies like wind generators, etc. There's hundreds of years of coal left, heck, just one field in utah has enough for the entire planet for centuries, and humans will wind up burning all of it,alon
      • You could right a similar rant about lots of things. This only sounds compelling to you because you work with or particularly care about software. It's hard to run computers (or do lots of things) without electiricty. Should I write you a rant about how we must beware of the electric companies or they will RULE THE WORLD? I can't function without food. I eat food every day. So do lots of people. Does this mean that farmers are all-powerful and must be feared becuase they can user their power to *control so
        • Your argument makes 0 sense. The whole point of what I was saying is monopolies are bad, when one company controls most of the worlds software it is bad. I did not say anything about "software companies" in general, I said when one company rules a market, and it is a market everyone depends on, then that one company *does* control your life. Such a company could, and would, manipulate global politics, whatever. No one could stop them.

          The examples you gave are all markets with a) tons of competion, and b) a
      • "Open Source software...should be *paramount* on people's mids."

        It's good we've got geeks to worry about this. By all means push hard on this issue - and use your skills to help improve the world - but for a large number of people in the world paramount issues in their mind are:

        - can I get enough /clean water to drink

        - can I get enough to eat to live

        - can I find shelter

        - can I be safe from war or the after effects of war

        Don't forget the big issues. Some of these may be solved by softwar

    • Be it energy or open-source software or broadband or rice genomes. If an entity, artifact or class of artifacts becomes a control nexus, it becomes a vehicle for the transition of incumbent power.
    • That might be true for a small number of of obsessed geeks but the majority of people dont give a monkeys about who controls software.

      They ought to give a monkey's $BODYPART about control. Condsider:

      Software controls whether or not my car passes vehicle emmissions inspections. Someone who fails inspections will *never* know whether he really failed or whether he's being ripped off.

      Software controls whether or not I'm flagged as a terrorist on a flight.

      Software controls flow of goods and services a

    • That might be true for a small number of of obsessed geeks but the majority of people dont give a monkeys about who controls software. To them its just another product and their interest ends as soon as they have finished reading their email or their computer controlled car tells them it needs an oil change.

      The narod cares about the results. They care:

      When their car records their driving habits and they get sued after an accident.

      When they can't skip the previews/ads at the beginning of their DVDs.


    • by Anonymous Coward
      People I've spoken to that don't care about free software often don't care about free speech either. Believe it or not there are people who have a "meh, people don't say anything important anyway" attitude to free speech. Wanting your computer to just work without worrying about the EULA is in some ways like wanting to just live your life without worrying about your country's government.

      The Free Software is for people who like freedom or like software. If you like both, then it's right up your ally.
  • Gasp... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carvalhao ( 774969 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:00PM (#9140343) Journal

    I am Portuguese and am currently working with a Spanish colleague who was falbbergasted when he read about the "extremely poor region of Extremadura". Hey, it looks like we're talking about sub-saarian Africa of something!

    As a matter of fact, Spain is one of the best developed economies in the European Union. There may be some regions where e-development may not have reached somewhat high standards, but hold on! :)

    • Re:Gasp... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, I shouldn't really comment since I don't live there or anywhere close by, but according to [] Extremdura "is poverty-ridden, with poor communications, absentee landlordism, and steady emigration."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:06PM (#9140402)
    Oh man, I'm sure the average salary of a resident of the Extremadura province is still higher than someone living in Arkansas.

    Spain is not a third-world country. It's one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Which is way the terrorists hate it.

  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Curtman ( 556920 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:12PM (#9140476)
    • Free software -- software that can be freely copied, modified, and re-distributed by its users (and often software which is free of charge) -- is inextricably bound with personal freedom, the loftiest speakers say.

    I'm shocked. Printed media that actually described free software properly. Props to Ottawa Citizen.
  • Whoa (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Short Circuit ( 52384 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:17PM (#9140530) Homepage Journal
    Matusow went on to make a point about Red Hat's corporate Linux licensing, saying that Red Hat has a per-CPU licensing scheme with an auditing clause in the contract, and that client companies could not modify the (GPL'd) code for risk mitigation reasons on Red Hat's part.

    Either that's a "damn lie," or Red Hat has some explaining to do on the part of restricting GPL'd code.
    • Robert Young commented on this, saying that Jason Matusow made more claims about Red Hat's business model than he did himself, and this was during the panel about "Open Source business models."

      Many of Jason's comments during his presentation were misleading or outright false.
    • Would you care to explain why? This sounds like a reasonable clause for the contract. You are paying them to provide you support for the software they provide, not software you write (or break) yourself. Otherwise you could "modify" it by adding massive new functionality and then say that they had to support your new code.
  • by Apostata ( 390629 ) <> on Thursday May 13, 2004 @12:18PM (#9140542) Homepage Journal
    'Who controls the software, controls life.' - Eben Moglen

    'He who controls the spice, controls the universe!' - Baron Harkonnen, Dune []
    • Nice point, provided you provide some context w/it. There is tension between that and the better-known utterance "The spice must flow". Maintaining control over software without impeding its distribution and development is the fine line all producers of software, be they corporate or FOSS, must tread.
  • I am involved in organizing the Toronto GOSLING (getting open source into government). If you are interested in being involved, please email me at

  • Accountants? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b100dian ( 771163 ) on Thursday May 13, 2004 @01:45PM (#9141685) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how would one manage to get the accountants to hear/read of these "free as in freedom" ideas - for the ones that I came to know don't give a s*** about quality of software either.
  • GPL (Score:2, Funny)

    by Psymunn ( 778581 )
    'This GPL brings good luck to all software developers who use it. One guy used GPL software and licensed it under seomthing else and was eaten by a despondent goat with rabbies. One girl forked GPL software and keeped the license and she met the man of her dreams later that day and had Opensource children (they released videos of the conseption on teh internet). Pass on your GPL software to 10 of your closest friends and receive a millioin years awesome luck'

    in all seriousness though, GPL is a great thing
  • I'm surprised nobody mentioned that BSDCan [] started today at the University of Ottawa. If I wasn't working this weekend I would've gone (I think I'm only 3 or 4 hours away):(.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.