LCA 2012 Bruce Perens on Status of Open Source and James Applebaum on Anonymity

At the just concluded Linux Conference Australia (LCA 12), open source was under the limelight as some powerful presenters left behind a lot to be thought about.

First to make an impact was Bruce Perens.  Coming as an ex-Debian Project Leader and strong advocate of open source programs, Perens left many thinking on the future of open source and the role the platform can play in the future.  In fact, he was a representative of the open source platform at the ‘United Nations World Summit on Information Society in 2005’ and plays a very vital role in channelling open source as an empowering technology , influencing national and international policies. His various initiatives combined with the non-profit organizations he has founded as well as some very successful projects such as Busybox, Perens comments on role and scope of opensource technologies did make  a lasting impression on attendees.

His commentary on the present status of Open Source, throws light on how a handful of commercial open source ventures, such as Canonical, are similar in behaviour with ‘branded’ or proprietary software like Microsoft and says, “And we trust very few companies to decide what’s right for us

to consume and what isn’t. Open Source is important in a world controlled by big business, and it’s up to us to ensure it’s not squashed like a bug by

the interests of these large companies.”

Perens views on Challenges before Open Source becomes pervasive

He suggests that Open Source Movement should now move from being a significant contributor to software (and some hardware) to more offering open philosophy on economics and politically as well, “the goals of open source need to evolve and become simply more than development of quality software. Open source needs to become relevant with the mainstream and needs to earn their sympathy. We face many challenges – a much covered and controversial story over the last few months has been the SOPA bill – hotly contested by the software and internet community.  But progress against this bill has been slow and difficult.”

He listed “Mozilla, Wikipedia, and Ubuntu as ‘best of breed’,” open source companies and organizations, which look beyond benefits for themselves and the community. The ultimate goal for open source needs to look beyond being a ‘better platform than the competition’ and address needs of  global environment with open source solutions.

Jacob Appelbaum and the LCA 2012   

Jacob Applebaum, the Piped Piper of online censorship technology and surveillance hardly needs an introduction, famous as he is for his seminal research in these areas and as a representative of Wikileaks.

However, he is more important as one of the key developers of The Tor Project, path-breaking software that allows online anonymous conversation on the internet. At LCA 2012, Appelbaum discussed the links of various security departments all over the world with Western Intelligence.

He left a lot of room for discussion on the role of government surveillance via Internet Service Providers and the need to have the freedom for common citizens to Internet Anonymity.