This week was the Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON). This event was a blast and I would like to take a chance to recount some of my favorite events, speakers, and moments. I arrived at around eight on Thursday. After checking in and receiving my official POSSCON badge, I headed with my classmates to the main lounge called Richland. Here we got to see a speech by keynote speaker, Scott McNealy, founder of Sun Microsystems. The speech was pretty informative. He went over the history of open source software and outlined many of the issues facing open source software including leadership and organization. Personally though, I disagreed with him that open source had slowed down or that it needs a big industry leader with lots of capital to thrive. As another speaker asserted when I asked about what McNealy had said, John “maddog” Hall said that he has seen no slow down in open source, and that the very design of open source prevents it from needing a large leader. The accessibility of open source software keeps it running strong.
Mentioning John, I got to visit several other speakers presentations. John’s was the most interesting. He was doing a BOF during the lunch period in the Richland hall. I already mentioned what I had asked. Others asked about copyright and patent. Richland felt that patents were necessary but needed a great deal of reform. Likewise, to him copyrights have way too long of a shelf life, and they also need reforms to adapt to the new age of technology. He also was quite humurous. He made sure to point out that Linus is pronounced ‘Lee-nus’ (an earlier speaker had said it could pronounced either way). Jokes like this made me a huge fan. He was both an interesting and informative speaker.
I also visited a kickstarter presentation by a young entrepreneur. Ian Daniher has started his own hardware business at age 20. The software used on his hardware is completely open source and versitle. This presentation was really great because of how young Ian is. Hearing of such a young man developing such an awesome idea is quite inspirational. Having toyed with self-development, hearing the business side of the hardware was not only interesting but different from any of the other speakers. He even demonstrated his device for us. The device known as CEE displayed electronic and heat signature in wave length form to the monitor. Ian showed the program’s versatility and ease of change. It was impressive to say the least.
The third speaker I took a look at was from the Department of homeland security. Security and open software seem like a paradoxical combination, but Douglas Maughan Ph. D proved this paradox wrong. He had a power point set up describing how open source software is used in the daily operation of homeland security. In fact he claimed that all the research done on open source software has proven it is actually more secure than its proprietary brothers. This fact alone was shocking. I was really glad I came to see his thoughts.
After seeing these stellar speakers, I and my classmates collected our belongings and made the short trip back to Charleston. The conference was a blast and I hope to go back next year. I took a significant amount away from the conference. I see the prevalence of open source much better now, and I appreciate what it has to offer more. I will take these lessons with me into whatever field I enter into or in whatever project I will undertake.