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O'Reilly Open Source Convention and Perl 5 Conference Wrap-up

August 8, 2001

Sebastopol--"The principles of open source work because anyone can come to the party," said Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly & Associates, speaking from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention and Perl Conference 5. This year, Craig Mundie, Senior VP of Microsoft, not only came to the party, but spoke there as well, in the Shared Source vs. Open Source keynote discussion between Mundie and Michael Tiemann, CTO of Red Hat. As one attendee said, "The big news is not that they said anything new or unexpected, but that Microsoft and Red Hat were here, talking to open source programmers, and to each other...open discussion prevailed." The Mundie/Tiemann debate was probably the most anticipated event of the conference. Mundie outlined Microsoft's worldwide concern with licensing and profitability issues, stressing that, as the need becomes clearer, Microsoft will adapt licenses to the needs of users and developers. Tiemann noted that Microsoft had behaved illegally in using its monopoly, and called for a clear understanding within Redmond's ranks for the meaning of open source software. The panel discussion that followed, moderated by Tim O'Reilly, featured Tiemann, Mundie, and other experts on intellectual property and the software industry, including Clay Shirky, Ronald Johnston, Brian Behlendorf, David Stutz, and Mitchell Baker.

Over a five-day period, more than 1800 developers gathered from 48 countries to attend highly technical tutorials and conference sessions, and self-organized BOFs (Birds of a Feather sessions). The conference focused on Perl, Linux, Apache, Python, open source business strategies, Mozilla, PHP as well as other emergent technologies such as peer-to-peer technology and bioinformatics.

This year's convention theme was "Fueling the Open Source Alternative." Keynote speaker Fred Baker, Cisco Fellow and former chairman of the IETF, placed open source software at the top of the food chain, but appealed to developers to work with commercial vendors. While open source development is a good way to get the right features quickly, he explained, it is weak on the features that would make it usable by a wide consumer and business base.

Keynote speaker W. Phillip Moore, the executive director of enterprise infrastructure applications at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, predicted that Linux systems will be increasingly important to enterprise operations in the next few years. One great advantage, Moore said, was that he can modify the software to suit Morgan Stanley's needs, without having to coerce a corporate vendor to make the changes, at their pace, and often in conjunction with exorbitant fees.

Several announcements were made at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, including:

  • Sun Microsystems' announcement of its Sun Grid Engine Project, an initiative to offer the source code for Sun Grid engine software to users and the developer community;

  • Hewlett-Packard's launch of Coolbase, an open source software development platform for creating mobile e-services;

  • The release of the technical details of The Mono Project, a Linux version of the .NET platform by Miguel de Icaza, Ximian's CTO and president of the Gnome Foundation at a session shared by Dave Stutz, software architect at Microsoft, who discussed Microsoft's work on a shared source implementation of the common language elements of .NET.

New to this year's convention, the O'Reilly Summit on Open Source Strategies, looked at open source as a strategic advantage for businesses. Industry leaders discussed how to standardize collaborative software development within the enterprise, and with key customers.

The annual White Camel Awards for leadership in the Perl Community were presented by brian d foy of Perl Mongers. David H. Adler, a founding member of the first Perl User Group--the New York Perl Mongers--received the Perl User Groups White Camel award. Ask Bjorn Hansen received the award for Perl Community in recognition for his work in hosting Perl-related web sites and mailing lists devoted to Perl. The final White Camel for Perl Advocacy was awarded to the YAPC:Europe team for bringing high quality but affordable Perl conferences to Europe.

Convention Chair Nat Torkington presented the annual Perl Conference Awards. Winners were Mark-Jason Dominus who received the Larry Wall Award for Practical Ingenuity; Dan Brian, recipient of the Damian Conway Award for Technical Excellence; and Brian Ingerson and Neil Watkiss who shared the award for Best Module.

The O'Reilly Open Source Convention served as host to the annual Open Source Documentation Summit, uniting twenty-one leaders of documentation projects for various free or open software projects together for an all-day meeting on Sunday, July 22. Some of the bigger issues discussed were how to recruit and motivate writers of free and open documentation as well as how to make it easier for documentation writers who are unfamiliar with DocBook to write documentation.

Evening programs included Larry Wall's annual State of the Onion presentation on the state of the Perl world and Jon Orwant's Internet Quiz Show (teams of four pitted against each other in a contest of Internet technology and culture). The "Defending Champs" reclaimed their title in a victory over the "President's Dog," in a near replay of last year's match.

For complete O'Reilly Open Source Convention and Perl 5 coverage, go to www.oreillynet.com/oscon2001 Read Tim O'Reilly's take on Freedom Zero, Sun's analysis of the Microsoft/Open Source debate, weblogs featuring cool stuff emanating from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention and Perl Conference 5, and check out our convention photo archive.

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