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Saturday @ Fosdem

February 24, 2007

I spent this Saturday at FOSDEM, listening to some interesting talks.

Pieter Hintjens spoke about the Status of Software Patents in Europe. As the FFII president, he should clearly be against software patents. But, although his speech went in this direction, the 3 new FFII initiatives are diluting his/its position as well as the threat (the 3 initiatives are European patent conferences, the creation of the European Software Market Association to lobby the EU and a Campaign for Ethical Patents). Let’s talk seriously: software patents are not a solution and shouldn’t be allowed ; no trade-off.

Jim Gettys talking about the One Laptop Per Child project was good and exciting. I thought that the project was just about reducing the cost of a laptop with the 100 US$ goal in mind. But, technically, no one can just give regular laptop (as we have in developed countries): they are not designed to save enough power, to resist water and dust, to be readable under the sun, … The OLPC team came with bright ideas like a CPU that can be turned off (saving power) with display still on (allowing children to read) and wireless still on too (allowing the reception and transmission of network packets). They are using Open Source software because transparency is empowering (but it also really helps reducing costs and is the only thing you can use if you want to modify and fine-tune software).

Simon Phipps‘keynote about the “liberation” of Java was disappointing. It was rather a Sun/Java commercial show than a real developers talk. Of course, they are working on the next release of Java and Sun became a corporate patron of the FSF. But nor the JDK nor the JRE are free for the moment.

During the afternoon, I saw a very nice introduction (à la Lessig) of Jabber by Peter Saint-Andre, a hypnotic introduction to Fedora by Chitlesh Goorah and Max Spevack, a clear talk about the Belgian eID on CentOS by Fabian Arrotin (although nothing was said on concerns about privacy) and finally Wim Dumon’s talk on Wt (bof).

In general, I noticed 3 general trends: more women are interested in free/open source software/movement (even more than last year), more Mac PCs are shamelessly turned on ๐Ÿ˜‰ and more SLR cameras are used.

From → Open Source

2 Comments
  1. pieter hintjens permalink

    I’m surprised you got the idea I’m somehow not against software patents. The EPLA proposal is the real threat; it promises to legitimise software patents across Europe. Read the epla.ffii.org site if you’re unsure. The European Patent Conference, and the Campaign for Ethical Patents are both aimed directly at preventing EPLA, and promoting the sane alternative of a patent system inside Europe that properly protects software from being monopolised by patents.

    In case there is any doubt whatsoever: I believe software patents are an unmitigated disaster. They make it impossible to develop new standards, new products, and new markets, in safety. I said all this at FOSDEM.

    Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply “be against software patents”. No-one asks our opinion. At some point, words are not enough, and one must act.

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