Walmart export web code as Open Source

Walmart have set an example to the retail sector with a significant export of Open Source code to supplement the 140 projects already developed by their technical team in the open.

Whilst transferring the Walmart.com retail platform to React and Node.js, Electrode was created to power the e-commerce platform which serves 80 million visitors per month and 15 million items.

Electrode

Electrode was released as an Open Source application with the OSI approved Apache 2.0 licence and can be found in the Walmart Labs Github account. It provides various developer enhancements and tools for the developer including Node.js configuration and feature management.

Header form Medium post on Walmart Labs Elecrode
Electrode from Walmart Labs

Announcement

Alex Grigoryan of Walmart Labs released a statement on Medium.com 3rd October 2016 explaining the the details of the applications and the scale that they operate at Walmart.

Alex writes about some of the challenges experienced by developers working on large projects. These include code re-use, performance and best practice. He says: “The problems we solved at @WalmartLabs, we want to solve for the community. So that’s what Electrode gives you out of the box”

In the first month following the announcement, Alex has engaged with the communities and responded to many questions asked about the software. The Github repository has already gained over 200 Github stars and contributions from the core developers are maintained on a daily basis.

Summary

Although early days for Electrode, this does look like a sincere investment in the Open Source ecosystem. On one hand, it enables other retailers to import the code and build their own competing platforms. On the other, it clearly sets Walmart as a lead innovator in this space and enables them to bring to life from contributions and enhancements submitted by external developers.

It will be interesting to see which forward-thinking retailers follow suit or collaborate in using and improving the software exported by Walmart.

Open for Business 2016

Open for Business 2016 logoOpenUK is the co-host and sponsor with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group of the annual Open for Business conference.  This is our annual festival of open source in the business environment which takes place on Monday 5th September in Hebden Bridge.

This year we are focusing on how to bring open source into your business,  looking at how to make money using open source, how to manage open source procurement and how to handle legal and licensing issues.  But most of our speakers are an international group of senior executives, with huge real work experience of success  with open source in their own business.

Highlights include

  • A keynote from Mike Little, co-founder of WordPress, which now powers 26% of the Web.
  • Maarten Ectors, VP for IoT at Canonical presenting on making money with open source.
  • Matija Suklje, lawyer and FOSS legal specialist who spent 5 years heading up the FSFE Legal Network (global FOSS legal network and Chatham House Rule list, which also publishes the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review journal

and our very own Stuart Mackintosh, Founder of OpusVL and chair of Open UK.

This year, over an extended lunch break, our speakers are offering “surgery” sessions. An opportunity to seek free advice one-to-one with leading practitioners.  In the evening you are invited to join speakers and other attendees for an informal dinner in a local pub.

Open for Business is just one part of the 10-day long Wuthering Bytes festival, a 10-day celebration of open source technology in the heart of the UK’s “Northern Powerhouse”.  There are many more meetings of interest to OpenUK members, from workshops on open source hardware through to open smart cities to the global meetings of the LLVM and GNU Tools Cauldrons.

Full details of Open for Business 2016 are here, with free registration through EventBrite here.  We look forward to seeing you in Hebden Bridge next month.

Review of global Open Source policy across the public sector

The UK has benefited from the 2012 Open Standards policy which was formally reviewed in 2015, and the guidance toward selecting Open Source, as described in the official UK government IT strategy, which states “where appropriate Open Source solutions and Open Standards will be considered”. However this document is becoming outdated, as the development and use of Open Source rises, and policy needs to evolve in order to keep up with action already being taken by many organisations within the public sector.

USA

Compare this to the progressive strategy outlined by the current White House Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, a strong advocate of Open Source, who believes that technological innovation is built through collective knowledge and collaboration.

Scott’s department has released a draft Federal source code policy for public consultation by 18th April 2016 and are encouraging the wider community to provide comment. This draft requires that all custom code purchased by the Federal Government to be made available across Federal Agencies, but for now, only limited obligation to be released as Open Source software to the community.

President Obama seeks technological progress and there is a view that investing in openness will address this. The White House describe the Open Data aspirations, API’s and contributions to Open Source on their developers pages.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page is maintained by the US Department of Defence which aims to address the common issues that arise during selection and procurement which is generally also of benefit to non-US administrations.

India

A similar picture is emerging in other countries including India who encourage the use of Open Source over proprietary software.

Europe

Across Europe, many policies and guidance have been issued over recent years.

The French Prime Minister recommended that agencies return between 5% and 10% of savings made from the use of Open Source opposed to proprietary back to the communities as part of it’s Open Source drive.

Basque Country issued a decree in 2012 and was one of the first EU states to issue such a strong statement.

Initial Italian publications in 2012 lead to the development of criteria and guidelines in 2013 promoting importing of Open Source and the re-export of the software to other departments.

Although this is very positive progress, these policy developments focus on the importing of Open Source, with some limited obligation to share amongst other departments.

Bulgaria has lead the way with an all-round Open Source policy. Following the introduction of mandatory evaluation of Open Source solutions for government tenders in 2015, the government proposed a repository of Open Source applications which will be mirrored with Github, therefore enabling developers and other departments to interact, acquire and feed back to the software assets. The policy is currently under review in parliament and is anticipated to successfully pass in the near future.

Poland released their policy in 2016 which describes their aspiration to become an all-round Open Source government and this encompasses Open Data in addition to the software assets.

A review of EU policies and analysis of the response of 10 EU regions can be found in a 2013 document which presents the position of sharing and re-use of digital assets. A full report is available detailing the position of 30 EU nations.

Local government and departments

Such a policy applied to central government does not directly ensure that the public sector as a whole must comply. Local government, states and departments generally require their own policy to enforce such activity. A statement by USA digital working group 18F propose that their policy is extended to states and local government as described here. However the policy is likely to encourage generation of relevant Open Source software within the sector that other departments benefit from so we can expect it to be influential.

What next?

The importation of Open Source into government software projects does not ensure a two-way ecosystem, therefore failing to engage and stimulate the Open Source business, community and the benefits this may otherwise bring. Procurement and supply chain issues still need to be addressed in order to further evolve policies to reflect the needs and challenges of organisations within the public sector

At the time of writing, Open Forum Europe are working with other organisations to research the business use of Open Source across Europe. It is anticipated that this will bring more clarity to the positions of the nations outlined here as well as the first objective study of business impact of Open Source.

There is no argument that a purchaser of software and services would welcome solutions that ensured the freedoms identified by the Free Software Foundation. This has been considered a utopia and unachievable in the course of contemporary business. With the significant progress this decade toward Open Source policy, and leading nations experimenting with the all-round approach, it is now becoming more widely accepted that these freedoms will become a common expectation when acquiring software.

OSC Response to consultation: UK digital revolution

I am writing on behalf of the Open Source Consortium (the UK Open Source Industry Association) in response to the post on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Ed Vaizey MP and Cabinet Office here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-seeks-ideas-from-public-and-industry-for-the-next-stage-in-uks-digital-revolution

Considering the advances made toward the UK digital revolution, most of the technology project successes of recent times have been largely down to the adoption of Open Source. GDS have promoted the Open Source principles that have started to enable an openly competitive market and this has allowed local businesses to compete with international conglomerates on a level playing field. A search on the gov.uk website returns 182 results in response to a query for “Open Source” with pages from a variety of departments and the gov.uk site itself being available as an Open Source asset.

The government service manual https://www.gov.uk/service-manual encourages use of Open Source and states “Use Open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, web servers, databases and programming languages.” Lord Bridges of Headley commented: “This policy with the sensible procurement practice has undoubtedly saved the UK tax payer a lot of money. During the last Parliament £1.7bn was saved thanks to digital transformation and the Government Digital Service cost £58m. This is therefore a very good return on investment”

It is unlikely that its possible to qualify the £1.7bn saving, however its obvious that the new Open methods have delivered benefit for the UK tax payer and will continue to do so. Future benefits will be realised when these systems are retired or extended as the data and software is available for inspection and modification, therefore enabling the negotiation of a fairer price based on the delivery of value services.

Although there are many areas where Open Source can positively impact the digital revolution, this response relates to the subject of education, with comment on both curriculum and non-curriculum benefits of Open Source.

The education sector stands to gain a great deal from investing in Open Source as the investment in systems often adds direct value to primary, secondary and higher education who have common and overlapping systems and processes. An opportunity exists for the system to become part of the teaching experience as the learner and teachers are not stifled by limitations of the system itself.

The OSC commends to the UK government the greater use of Open Source and most importantly, investment in Open Source through UK specialist Open Source companies. The following OSC members have provided specific insights in to the use of Open Source across the education sector.

A member of the OSC, Catalyst IT, has worked extensively with the New Zealand Ministry of Education and other government agencies for the provision of Open Source solutions to support operational education systems. Paul Stevens of Catalyst IT writes as follows:

Going back to 2003, the New Zealand government invested in an Open Source LMS for the New Zealand Open polytechnic. This project saw Catalyst IT www.catalyst.net.nz to select an Open Source platform to be used as a Learning Management System (LMS). The investment lead to significant development of the core application and helped Moodle to become the biggest and most adopted LMS in higher education worldwide as noted here: http://listedtech.com/free-lms-or-open-source-lms-used-in-higher-ed/

The official Moodle site states that there are almost 50,000 registered sites across 214 countries which illustrates the benefit of such investments.

Following the success of the Moodle LMS, in 2006, a similar project commenced for the selection of an e-portfolio system. The evaluation process concluded that no suitable Open Source solution was available at the time and the Open Source project Mahara.org was established to build a fit for purpose system. This investment created a basic portfolio and, with the engagement of the Open Source community and contributions from around the world, Mahara has become one of the most popular e-portfolio systems in the world. To this day the Ministry of Education still runs myportfolio.ac.nz which services lifelong e-portfolios for 1200 NZ schools.

Totara LMS has also been a similar success story with an initial modest investment by three NZ government departments in a project called MITMS. Catalyst IT, Kineo City and Guilds and Flexible Learning (later part of the Kineo Group) joined forces to create a corporate Moodle distribution called Totara LMS.

New Zealand government agencies have quickly adopted it with many now operating Totara for their training and career development. A key benefit realised is that the sharing of ideas and the costs of the developments of new features across the agencies, has enriched the product’s feature set and minimised costs, thereby delivering measurable value to the New Zealand tax payer.

The following case studies provide information on the implementation of the Totara Open Source LMS:

The New Zealand Ministry of Education invested in further Open Source projects in 2012 when they engaged Catalyst to develop the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT). The tool is designed to record the level of proficiency of students by their teachers and thereby help teachers increase the consistency of their judgements within schools and across the country. Written using Django, an Open Source framework, PaCT also enhances the measurement of student progress in relation to the National Standards. See PaCT for more information here: http://pactinfo.education.govt.nz/

The PaCT project presented the opportunity for New Zealand to create a world class system that is potentially re-usable by other governments and education institutions around the globe. As it has been developed on a 100% open source platform, further development by the administration will not be constrained by license or code challenges. As a further benefit, the Open nature of the application design enables full ownership and control of systems and data by the New Zealand government.

Users were vocal in their praise of the opportunity to be involved in the development of their application and the way their opinions were integrated into the design thinking. Those that are now using it, love it, and the project has been a great success.

Paul Stevens of Catalyst IT says: “Open Source needs to be a key consideration for the progression of the UK government Digital Strategy; to date the strategy has been about how to use Open Source and its competitive advantages above proprietary and closed software. The new strategy needs to look at how to engage and support the key Open Source projects and communities so that they deliver value and innovation, and grow the local economy with in-country funding of IT projects.”

Having a system like Mahara holding all of the UK student information under the management of the UK government is far safer than having the data under the control of a corporation (eg Facebook) who’s business model is to monetise data and contacts. Supporting the implementation of Open Source Management Information Systems is just one example of where significant savings could be achieved across primary, secondary and higher education with one investment.

The Learning Machine, a member of the OSC, recently announced that one of their qualifications in Open Systems is now eligible to attract league table performance points. Details here: http://www.opensourceconsortium.org/open-source-gcse-equivalent-qualification-attracts-dfe-16-19-performance-points/

Paul Taylor, Director of Resource Development at The Learning Machine, writes:

Open Source in Education – The Big Picture

Overview

A number of years ago, very few people in education would have known about or considered using open source as it was perceived as free, so not good quality. There would have been people using Linux perhaps in some server role or students using Open Office because it was on a computer magazine, but little in the way of volume. Fast forward to today and the use and acceptance of open source in education is wide ranging, from primary schools using a Raspberry Pi computer to control various functions through to an estimated 70% of colleges running their courses on the Moodle VLE.

Curriculum

In the curriculum space, there is also relatively wide acceptance of open source. In almost all cases, Awarding Organisations (AO) mention and support the use of open source for course content and large numbers of schools are using google systems. Schools use Moodle, not to the degree of FE colleges, but still in large numbers, because they can control how it works and can manage it effectively due to the large and helpful community built around it. Most of the AOs have reference to Linux or open source software as part of their exams and the specialist open source AO TLM use open source systems to support their assessment and learning functions. Specialist schools will use some of the more well known open source software platforms such as the Gimp or Audacity, not necessarily because they are open source, but because they offer excellent features. Indirectly, open source has driven down the cost of software as a recent announcement from the DfE announced a deal with Microsoft to save £30,000,000. Without the number of schools migrating to Google online applications, this would not have happened. If a deal similar to the one arranged for the government by Collabora to use Libre Office can be pushed to education, even more savings could be made.

Non-curriculum

The biggest aspect of non-curriculum in education remains the MIS (Management Information System) which is currently something of a monopoly. Almost all schools use a proprietary system which is very hard to break free from and very costly. There are excellent alternatives such as Canonical’s SchoolTool, but few schools would be brave enough to move to these systems without some government backing and support. Some schools deploy Linux based servers internally to run mail servers and web sites running Apache, but the majority of state funded schools tend to stick to proprietary servers and desktop clients as these tie in with the MIS they use. The non-curriculum services tend to be controlled through regional consortia such as the London, Midlands etc Grid for Learning. These provides Microsoft based services and deliver on a large scale so it appears to be good value. Few small primary schools have the technical skills or support not to use these so small local schools can pay several thousand pounds for services which would be hundreds if open source was used. The author recently swapped a £7K a year contract for some open source filtering and a basic business broadband package costing £300 per year for a local primary. Taken across all 7,000 or so primaries, that is a lot of extra teachers and resources.

Perhaps some of the problem with the non-curriculum aspects of school is a lack of skilled open source staff available?

I would like to thank Ed Vaizey MP for providing the opportunity to provide feedback on this call for ideas. The OSC would be pleased to consider any further questions or provide more detail as required.

With best regards,

Stuart Mackintosh.

OSC Chair

Starting An Open Source Business

Last autumn, the OSC was co-host with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group of Open for Business as part of the Wuthering Bytes festival. This was a one day conference to help those wanting to start their own open source business, or to use open source more widely in their existing business.

We recorded (almost) all the talks, to provide a permanent repository of information that will serve as an invaluable resource to those running, starting up or considering starting, their own open source business.

Tariq Rashid Opening keynote: Digital services video slides
Rob Blake The best of times, the worst of times: The golden age of the modern web, open source and market commoditisation. video slides
Stuart Mackintosh Discovering open source business models (or “hacking the IT industry”) video slides
Stuart Mackintosh The Open Source Consortium: An introduction video slides
Rob Taylor Thoughts from 10 years of open source business video
Scott Wilson University R&D, technology transfer and FOSS video slides
Amanda Brock Open source and commercial agreements slides
Peter Coates Building a self-sustaining ecosystem of clinically led open digital solutions for the care community video slides
Robin Kennedy Support for Innovation video slides
Cornelia Boldyreff The BCS Open Source Specialist Group video slides
Adam Jollans Closing keynote: IBM’s journey with open source video slides

 

The entire video set is also available as a playlist, allowing you to relive the day in its entirety. Amanda Brock gave her talk via Skype, and unfortunately we were unable to capture the audio, but we are able to offer her slides.

The event was very well received by all who attended, and by popular request, we hope to run a follow up event as part of Wuthering Bytes 2016. I’ll be writing more about this later in the year.

Finally, my thanks to our hosts at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Calderdale Council.

Jeremy Bennett, OSC Treasurer

Open Source GCSE-equivalent qualification attracts DfE 16-19 performance points

On Friday 8th January, the Department for Education (DfE) approved an Open Systems IT Management (OSIM) Level 2 course to be eligible for 16-19 Performance Points counting towards the school’s league table attainment. It is an area of skills shortage identified by the DfE who are responding to an increase in demand for Open Source, Linux and Cloud expertise through UK industry.

This is the first time that a course at GCSE level that focuses on the use of Open systems and Open Source Software has achieved this formal recognition. Attracting performance points at 6th form and college levels, this course is of equal importance to other subjects. Following the DfE guidance in 2013 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-computing-programmes-of-study) demanding better teaching of computing, and the various coding clubs active at Primary schools, there has been a need to allow pupils developing these skills to engage with qualifications to validate their learning.

To strengthen the case, there are changes in the league tables following the introduction of the Progress 8 measure (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/progress-8-school-performance-measure) in 2016. This encourages schools to provide a broader curriculum and requires schools to meet targets across a range of categories. The OSIM course will count towards the non GCSE category providing schools the option of following on Key Stage 4 IT qualifications at Key Stage 5. Without this course, further work within the IT curriculum would difficult and not provide students with additional challenges and force them to re-learn the same IT work, leading to disengagement and disaffection.

With the further endorsement of the Open standard principles in Autumn 2015 by the Rt Hon Matt Hancock, and the Government Digital Services manual being geared around Open Source technology, the demand for expertise is gaining momentum and this course will go a long way to enabling individuals to develop the necessary skills. Released a year ago by the Prime Minister’s Office, the UK digital economy vision (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-vision-for-the-european-unions-digital-economy/uk-vision-for-the-eus-digital-economy) describes some of the challenges identified, but young people have not had the opportunity to formally learn the relevant skills required to deliver this vision.

The units studied as part of the course are designed around practical needs in modern practical computing. They cover:

  • Understanding global software communities and their products

  • Using an Operating System efficiently

  • Computer hardware systems and networks

  • LOGOCarrying out an IT systems management project

Behind this course is The Learning Machine (TLM), a company based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. TLM took a professionally recognised qualification based on the Linux Essentials programme from the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) and turned in to a level 2 qualification structured in a language that schools and colleges can use.

TLM are the awarding organisation for this course, provide training to the assessors on the certification and moderation systems and schools fund the student for each qualification. TLM offer a range of models to support the varying ways schools fund these qualifications.LPI-Essentials-Logo-300X300-150x150

Paul Taylor, Director of Resource Development at TLM says “in the modern internet age, everything works on Open Source, but there has been no formal recognition of progress or ability within the UK education system. Now that the OSIM course is formally recognised and contributes to school league tables, it is in reach of every student in the UK.”

Working with DfE, Open Source Consortium (OSC), LPI and other organisations, the course has been developed to focus on the skills in demand by the growing technology industry. Stuart Mackintosh, chairman of the Open Source Consortium says “It has been a significant achievement to have this course formally recognised on the performance tables and designed to fit in with teaching and curriculum requirements of schools and colleges across the country. As the Open Source industry association, the OSC supported the development of the qualification and is pleased with this result achieved by TLM

The OSC, with whom TLM are a long-standing member, provide a link to industry expertise across the UK where schools, colleges and any other organisation, can find expert support, and students can access resources, work placements and employment opportunities.

With this model proven, TLM are developing the Level 3 qualification to support further learning. Following this, level 1 and entry level courses will be developed to make the Open Systems more accessible to those younger and less able. TLM aspire to offer a full suite of approved courses through level 4 & 5 for further education and workplace study. Whilst these are being developed, students can use the existing LPI programmes, although these are not currently funded by the DfE.

To access the course, a student can either self-study or ask their school to register. The flexible engagement methods make it feasible for very small numbers of students to take the course whilst economies of scale lower the cost for schools who actively promote the course. Funding is now available from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) of £941 per student to run the course owing to the DfE approval for performance points.

Full details of the course can be found here: https://theingots.org/community/Open_Systems_Management

About The Learning Machine (TLM)

http://thelearningmachine.co.uk/about-us/

The Learning Machine Ltd (TLM). TLM is an Awarding Organisation Accredited by Ofqual and DAQW, the regulators for qualifications in England and Wales. TLM is responsible for developing and managing a new and innovative family of qualifications. The most popular of these qualifications is the Qualification for IT Users, the ITQ, based on industry standard needs for IT. This is referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for broader industry acceptance. We produce a range of qualifications in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) based subjects such as ICT, Computing, Design Engineer and Construct or Smart Product Design and Manufacture that provide headline points in the KS4 performance figures which are supported by free on-line guidance and resources.

Address: 4D-4E Gagarin, Lichfield Road, Tamworth, Staffordshire B79 7GN

Email: helpdesk@theingots.org

Open Source Everywhere: ORCONF 2015 at CERN

jor1kI’m in CERN this weekend at the annual meeting of the Free and Open Source silicon design community.  CERN with its open hardware group is a leading player in this area.

This is our fourth meeting, and the size reflects the explosion in interest in open source for hardware.  Our first conference had less than 20 attendees.  This year we have 100.

The number of free and open source processor designs is growing.  The granddaddy is the OpenRISC 1000, but more recently Krste Asanovic and David Patterson (he of RISC-1 fame) created the RISC-V architecture, and groups all over the world are building chips based on this.  With clock rates of up to 2GHz and energy usage of 30GFlops/Watt these are not just free and open source, they are possibly the most efficient general purpose processors in the world.

I can’t even start to touch on all the subjects we have covered – you can see the list on the ORCONF website.  For some great pictures, follow the Twitter tags #orconf and #orconf2015.  But these are engineers who know few limits.  The picture with this blog is Sebastian Macke talking about his jor1k JavaScript simulator for the RISC-V processor.  Run Linux on a simulated chip on his website.

I suspect this is an area, few OSC members know about, but it is a rapidly growing field.  As the trade body, we support open source in all its forms.  Including hardware!

Jeremy Bennett, OSC Treasurer

Creating and Growing Open Source Businesses

Open_Source_BoutiqueTo those familiar with traditional business models, my company, Embecosm, is something of a mystery.  A team of very highly paid engineers using expensive equipment to write immensely complex software, which we then give away for free.  Yet despite this, we are a growing and profitable business.

The answer of course is that we are not paid for the software product we produce.  We are a service business and we are paid to write and modify compiler tool chains, which our customers then give away to enable the use of and help to advertise their wider products.  This business model works for Embecosm, because first of all we have customers with a very strong commercial pressure to provide compilers; and secondly writing compilers is really, really hard.

Our customers are generally processor manufacturing companies, and a good implementation of either GCC or LLVM is a must-have for any successful processor design.  As I have written before, there are probably only between 20 and 50 true experts worldwide in implementing each of the major free and open source compiler tool chains (GCC and LLVM).

This is perhaps the oldest and simplest of open source business models.  But there are many other business models that work, and which may be much more suitable for different commercial sectors.  How do you choose the right one for your business?  Indeed, how do you get started with an open source business at all?  Getting access to open source specific business expertise is a problem for the wider open source community.   To help address this, the Open Source Consortium, in partnership with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group, have put together a one day conference as part of the Wuthering Bytes Festival, bringing together leading authorities in open source business to share their expertise.

Open for Business: Monday 28th SeptemberBCSosc-web

08:30–17:30. Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Saint George’s Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY

This one day conference aims to help anyone with or working at an open source business, along with those who may be thinking of starting an open source business.

The presentations will provide insights into first-hand experiences at companies ranging from micro to global in scale, together with talks that look at the economics and legal considerations, exploring open source business models and contracts. We will also hear about the role of open source in taking ideas out of University and into commercial deployment. There will be presentations that explore public sector adoption of open source and the opportunities that it presents. Finally, there there will be a talk that looks at the government support available for innovation. Generous breaks for coffee, lunch and tea ensure there will be plenty of opportunity for networking.

To find out more and book your place, look at the agenda and details of the talks and speakers.

Open for Business is hosted by the Open Source Consortium and the BCS Open Source Specialist Group , and is being run as part of the Wuthering Bytes technology festival.

Wuthering Byteswuthering-bytes-logo-dark_720w

One of the reasons for hosting Open for Business as part of the Wuthering Bytes festival, is that it provides the perfect stage within which to explore potential business opportunities. Immediately before Open for Business is the annual conference of the Open Source Hardware User Group, over the weekend of 26th & 27th September. This features 13 talks and 7 hands-on workshops, covering topics including the Internet of Things, open hardware licensing, research into the maker movement, open source processors and wearable computing.

Then immediately following Open for Business, Calderdale Council are hosting three days on the theme of Our Tech Future, exploring topics such as the role of open data in the provision of public services, citizen innovation and much more.

Finally, the festival will draw to a close on Friday 2nd October with a day of talks that are a celebration of technology in everyday life, with inspiring stories and thought provoking insights, covering a diverse range of topics.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

 

Jeremy Bennett

Open Source Consortium Treasurer and CEO of Embecosm

My thanks to Gary Cheski for permission to use his cartoon. An earlier version of this article appeared on the Embecosm blog.

Ian Lynch

The members of the Open Source Consortium (OSC) would like to express their sympathies for the family of Ian Lynch, who sadly passed away on 24th May 2015. Ian was one of the founding members of the OSC and had been consistently and genuinely committed to the values of the organisation since it was set up in 2004.

We are sincerely thankful for Ian’s work, which has played a key role in the effectiveness of the OSC; his “bottom-up” approach was evidence of his success as an entrepreneur, working toward the goal of open systems becoming an integral part of ICT education in schools.

In the face of resistance to introducing a new course devoted to open systems as a core subject, Ian worked to integrate the open systems element into essential courses. Under the vocational review of 2011, the 3000+ qualifications which could be offered in schools were reduced to 120. Ian’s company, The Learning Machine (TLM), produced courses in ICT and Computing, a subject which Ian was passionate about. Through his efforts, two of TLM’s qualifications – with open systems forming an integral part – made the list of the 120 accredited by the Department for Education and are now being run in schools.

Aside from his professional activities and achievements, Ian was an asset to the OSC, often bringing a sense of humour and a sense of fairness in approaching challenges. Ian’s positive energy on the OSC Council will be greatly missed.

Document Freedom Day 2015 round-up

As the week of activities surrounding Document Freedom Day 2015 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the lasting effects that have been inspired through this global initiative. With over 50 events around the world promoting openness and vendor-neutrality of documents, many more people will now have an appreciation of why Open Document Formats matter to us all. Here are just a few of the highlights of #DFD2015

Document Freedom Day image

LibreOffice announced the release of LibreOffice Online, a cloud-based installation of LibreOffice available for anyone to use.

Collabora, the UK leader in the provision of commercial support solutions for Libreoffice released further information around the practicalities of implementing the Online version.

Yesterday, we saw the UK Government Digital Service release a blog summarising recent Government activity towards opening up documents. Also on the 27th, further guidance was released, restating the Government policy and providing resources to assist users and procurement with adherence to the policy.

I was proud to be involved with a UK project to produce a toolkit with the objective of promoting the message that change is simple. Within hours, a German translation of the graphic was published and an unofficial Greek version created.
The toolkit is available from the Open Forum Europe here and the Open Forum Press release can be downloaded from here.
OFE ODF Toolkit

DFD Infographic thumbnail

Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), writes in his blog of how the FSFE celebrated Document Freedom Day with the Green group of the European Parliament. The event focussed on a recent study of the benefit to procurement transparency that can be achieved with Open Documents.
The FSFE promoted their cartoon released for the 2012 Document Freedom day.The cartoon has many European translations and artwork can be downloaded here.

Also making a repeat appearance this year was a graphic created by the French volunteer and member organisation, April. Their 2013 graphic describes how Open Document formats ensure the longevity of documents and can be downloaded here.