How to start an Internet Famous Business with Open Source Software

Presenter: Mike Hoye

Summary:
Mike shared his experiences of the process of starting a company using open source software.
He addressed several different problems he faced during his journey.
Here are a few important key points:

Maslow’s pyramid for a startup:

  1. Issue tracker
  2. Colleagues not jerks
  3. Internet connection
  4. Food and water

Learn how to say NO.
Don’t be afraid to tell your idea.
Ship fast. If you ship 10%, the rest will come with time.
Do one thing well and 5 OK.

Programmers want to solve problems by programming, and that’s not always the best solution.

  1.  Research
  2.  Spend money
  3.  Write code

Now a days, if you need a library, probably somebody already wrote it. However, if the library you need, doesn’t exists, but a very similar one does, it’s better to ask the guy who wrote the library to make the modifications, than to write one from scratch. Maybe he will do it for free, maybe he will charge some money, either way, it will be faster for him to make the modifications than for you.
Finally, if you researched, and you couldn’t find anything, then you go and write code, as a last resource.

Keep focus on the goal
Trying to do to much = recipe to FAILURE
Say no, why? Because of time.
Always give back to the community.
Work in a group. Having some social contact from time to time is good

What do you need to start a company?

  • Laptop
  • Internet connection
  • Credit Card

Free and Open Source Strategy as Practice: Participant Perspectives

By: Mekki MacAulay

Summary:
Mekki’s talk was very interesting. I really liked how he started, saying that his presentation should be be a discussion, and not a one side conversation. He allowed everybody to speak up, and share their point of views, overall was a very good presentation.
Mekki shared his study of open source communities, and how they function and operate. Some interesting facts are:

Modern view of open source community

  1. Project Leader
  2. Core Member
  3. Active Developer
  4. Peripheral Developer
  5. Bug Fixer
  6. Bug Reporter
  7. Reader
  8. Passive User

Enabling vs Recursive practices.
When taking about enabling an recursive practices, he mentioned Eric’s Raymon essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Comparing both the recursive(closed source) and enabling(open source).
What I really liked about his talk, is that he didn’t push his point of view to the audience, he just raised very important questions. There was one specific thing that he said that made me think not only on the programming/technology level, but in a broader level as well. It was that in most cases, an open source community start being enable, and with time becomes recursive, meaning that the people that made that community enable in the first place, after a while in power, start making the community recursive, and not thinking about new developers, or to change some old practices they have. Unfortunately, that happens in all areas of our society, people fight for change, but once they get the change, they fight as much as they can so things never change again.

My two cents

On Mike’s presentation, there was one thing he mentioned about open source that struck me and made me start thinking.
He said: “You have to give back to the community”. Explaining that if you use an open source library or software for financial gain, its important to compensate the people who put their time and effort to create the product you were using to gain money. But giving back, it does not always means money, sometimes putting their name on the credits of your product, or maybe just a thank you is enough. I personally believe that this whole process is amazing, because assumes that people are good, that they will use the open source software, but they will give back, that is not just about the money, is about being human and doing the right thing, simply because is the right thing to do

A real world example, that affects everybody lives, is Microsoft and Apple. It’s funny to see how much Microsoft and Apple OS look a like now a days, and it’s not by chance. The whole GUI experience, with the mouse and different windows on the screen, wasn’t Apple’s or Microsoft idea. Who had he idea to create a GUI interface instead of the common terminal used at those days, or to start using the mouse as an input device, were the scientists at the Xerox lab. Without getting in to much details, what happened was that Apple got their hands in that new technology, and later Microsoft. Now a days, who remember the Xerox scientists?
My point is, technology needs to be shared. The little tricks big corporations used now a days with patents, to control a piece of the market and slow down the develop of other new technologies is outrageous! Technologies are develop to address a problem society is facing. We take for granted simple things, but the fact that we have light in the tip of our fingers, we have clean water inside our houses, we have a place that we can just walk in and get fresh food, and many other important, but under appreciated things. The reason all that happened was technology. Can you imagine how much faster we would evolute if the companies worked together, in an open source way, to create technologies that would bring benefit to society, and not profit for the big corporations? Going back to Mike’s quote, the more people create the sense of altruism, and that is important to give back, to work as a community, and not separate entities, we will see even a bigger increase in the development of new technologies.

That brings me to another point: Mozilla
Mozilla, is not just another software company. Mozilla is a company that fights for the users, that fights for society. Before we start talking about the work Mozilla is doing, lets reflect a little on mediums of commutation available in today’s society. We have, television, movies, radio, news paper and magazines. Lets leave the Internet out of the equation for now. One thing all the mediums of communication have in common, is that information flows in just one way. There is no interaction with them and that is very dangerous. To think that all those mediums are in the hand of a few big companies, and on top of that, they need approval by the government, that is also in the hand of another big companies. So let me ask you something. Is this model very similar to a monopoly or what? If somebody disagrees with this model and wants to do something about it, lets also assume that money is not a problem for that person. Se he goes and sets it up a company. But first he will need an approval from the government, lets also assume that he gets one. If for some reason the government doesn’t like what he is showing on his network, they have the power to revoke his license. So how can the network not be bias? The same thing goes for the radio, the movie studios, the news paper and publishing companies. If you look closely, the same company the has a TV network, has a movie studio, and a news paper, and a publishing company. So they have in their hands the control of all the mediums.
Not all of them, at least not yet. The Internet possesses an immense power. A way for people to communicate without barriers and without censorship, and we need to preserver that, we can’t have the Internet in the hands of a handful of companies that filter the information we receive. Imagine the following scenario. A company have the rights to distribute the Internet, and there is one website saying bad things about that company, they could simple block it. They could start controlling the content we have access to, in the end, becoming just like the TV network, where we have this false sense of choice. We can’t let that happen with the Internet. That’s why the work Mozilla does is very important. We can’t let Adobe take over the Internet with their proprietary software, or Microsoft, or Apple. There must be an option that is not focused on money, on profit, but rather focused on what is the best option for the user.
On the FSOSS, after the event was done, there was an after session to to have an open discussion. A few of Mozilla employees were answering some questions there. One of the questions raised was the storage of data in the Internet. The fact that we give our personal information to private companies like Google and Facebook, and what was the opinion of Mozilla on that subject. They explain that this topic is very important to them, and that the Mozilla servers encrypt the user’s browser data, and only the user is able to decrypt it. Even tough it may seems just like a little technical difference, it’s priceless. Mozilla’s goals are not to dominate the Internet and create a monopoly, and its possible to see that in their actions, and we, as users, need to speak up and say that we support that. The way we can do that is start using Mozilla products. That’s where our power lives. We can chose. Stop watching TV, don’t use proprietary software, send a message to those big corporations. Tell them what do you want. In the end, the only reason they exist, is because people use them.

Conclusion

This years FSOSS, showed me that more people know about the problems our society is facing, and that they are doing something about it. Before the event, I always thought about Mozilla in a different way. I didn’t know that they were more than just another browser company. Now I realize the importance of Mozilla, and the importance of other open source companies. Can you imagine how your life would be without open source software? No Firefox, no Linux, no Apache, no PHP, no Javascript, and a lot of other open source products. Imagine if the only browser available to us was Internet Explorer, and the only OS available to us came from Microsoft or Apple, if the only database solution came from Oracle, if Adobe was the only choice for watching videos or reading pdf documents. Can you imagine how our lives would be? Its because of the Mozilla’s the Apache’s and other organizations that put the people as the first priority that we still have some freedom in the computer world, and its future lays in our hands. What you’re going to do about it?