OSCON Keynote for Wednesday

It’s going to be hard for the OSCON Keynotes presenters to top last night’s Tuesday Evening Extravaganza. First up is conference chair Nat Torkington welcoming us to the conference. There are over 2100 people attending this year making it the biggest OSCON yet. It looks like OSCON will remain in Portland, OR at the OCC (depending on feedback from conference goers).

Trends in the Open Source Marketplace

Nat then invited Tim O’Reilly up to speak about trends in Open Source. Tim started off by speaking about The O’Reilly Radar, a blog where Tim and team note trends they’ve spotted and try to figure out where we’re headed next. Tim states that the community is currently going through “The Open Source Paradigm Shift”, where value is moving up the chain — hardware has been commoditized, application frameworks have been commoditized and now the value is at the level of eBay, Amazon, Google, etc. Tim had some key questions for Open Source:

  • Will “web 2.0” be an open system?
  • What do “open services” look like?
  • Will we end-up needing a Free Data Foundation in 2010 if data becomes the “Intel Inside”?
  • How does the paradigm shift change our business models and development practices?

Tim and Nat also gave us a glimpse of the items on the O’Reilly Radar:

  • Ruby on Rails: new platform and new language. May well be the Perl of Web 2.0.
  • GreaseMonkey: an extension for Firefox that allows users to alter the content of websites. With the view source command, folks were able to see how websites worked, with GreaseMonkey you can now rewrite other people’s websites.
  • HousingMarket.com: combining Google Maps with Craigslist to build a better service for people looking for apartments.
  • Ajax: (D)HTML, JavaScript and CSS. It appears that CSS and Ajax occupy the same mind-space as Ajax has increased at the expensive of CSS.
  • Findory: Some guys from Amazon.com left to start this tool which uses something similar to Amazon’s recommendation system to help you find articles you’ll like.
  • Internet Telephony: especially Asterisk, Skype and BroadVoice. Apparantly BroadVoice is pushing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Nat mentioned a guy who setup Asterisk at home and unless you’re on a whitelist you cannot make his phone ring between 11pm and 6am.

Next Tim shows some stats from bookscan — it appears that the computer book market has finally stabilized. This signals that the computer industry will start a rebound (or has started a rebound — a recent article in USA Today states that companies in general and tech companies in particular are removing wage freezes instituted back in 2001). From the stats it looks like Python and Ruby are on the rise, while Java still maintains a huge lead against the other programming languages.

From DIY to DIT: Building on the Architecture of Participation

Next Kim Polese spoke about her new company, SpikeSource and how it plans to help the Open Source community through testing. Remember Kim from Marimba? Most surprisingly, to me atleast, SpikeSource is funded by KPCB one of the finest VCs. Her talk revolved around the transition from Do It Yourself to Do It Together and the long tail. Unfortunately there were some technical glitches and Ms. Polese didn’t seem to handle it very well (though she did recover once A/V was back on). Kim claims that testing will do for open source what it did for hardware a generation earlier — the velocity of software development will be greatly increased (I guess she’s claiming a Moore’s Law for Software? Not quite sure how that will work).

Open Source as Commoditization and Cost-optimization of Legacy


Next came Andrew Morton from the ODSL, unfortunately his presentation skills were so lacking that the room started draining, I stayed, though I remember nothing from this portion of the keynote (I guess it’s a self-defense mechanism ;–)).

Open Source at Yahoo!

It’s too bad that so many people were driven away by Mr. Morton, because Jeremy Zawodny was next speaking about the use of Open Source at Yahoo. Unlike Mr. Morton (and Ms. Polese), Jeremy is an excellent speaker and even with the A/V system not working/rebooting he gave an excellent talk about Yahoo’s use of BSD (and Linux to a lesser extent), mdbm/MySQL, Perl, Apache, etc. Yahoo uses open source software for several reasons:

  • Flexibility – Yahoo! customizes lots of OSS for its needs (and doesn’t want to be told ‘No’ by a proprietary vendor).
  • Platform Availbility – for those platforms that Yahoo! cares about.
  • Low Cost – as Yahoo scales with many servers, per CPU licenses would get quite expensive.
  • Documentation – OSS tends to have better docs.

Jeremy also spoke of Yahoo’s APIs which they are opening up. Many are already available! See Yahoo Developer for more info.

Interview with Jonathan Schwartz

Finally, Nat sat down with Jonathan Schwartz, President of Sun Microsystems, and discussed Java, OpenSolaris and more. Jonathan was actually quite engaging and Nat asked the hard questions (open sourcing Java, giving up on Solaris and switching to Linux, allowing Linux to implement/borrow technology like dtrace). Jonathan said that by open sourcing Solaris, Sun has removed the “political” issues around Solaris and now it can be compared against Linux solely on the merit of its features/benefits.