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Fell quiet for a bit there. After ferreting out some anti-blogging quotes written fourty years or more ago, I headed off to the UK. Lincoln, which does have a very nice cheese shop as well as a cathedral. There was ale and innuendo — and a blind taste test to see if Stella Artois is actually different from Beck’s — as well as some planning of interesting Free Software things. I have another research paper to wrestle with now, for one thing. Returned home to sad news in the KDE community. I will remember Matthew as the guy who inexplicably got me not one, but two horse whips — which I take to most conferences ever since.

I didn’t take the whips to OSiMWorld, though, because that didn’t seem like the right kind of event. More suits and ties, less silliness. Although Lefty tried, with his pub quiz. Last year, the Roaming GNOMEs won, this year it was the “Intelligents” — big Intel / Atom presence at the show. The European Legal Network team came in third, which is reasonable. The available knowledge on the team was dramatically skewed: sports were clearly our worst category.

For the OSiMWorld conference itself, I must say it was fun to meet some more Trolls and troll-alikes, chat with a bunch of people from GCDS, like the Igalia guys. Saw some very nice Linpus desktops. What impressed me most was the attention to detail — the visual feedback on user actions, the clear organization of the desktop. Something that comes from understanding the target audience and the limitations of the device. Similar efforts at polishing the user experience are the hundred paper cuts. Chatted a bit with the Canonical folk about that. But the attention to detail and tailoring for more specific uses is something that takes a way a bit from the general purpose computing model, and moves towards appliances. When I was shown a nice Atom-based MID (mobile Internet device), my response was “ooh! cluster of x86 build machines!” which is very much not their purpose. Pointing to Lefty again, he summarizes arguments against the Desktop, some of which were presented at the conference itself.

One of the things that surprised me at the conference was the number of people who “get it” from a Free Software and business perspective. Free Software asks you to play by the rules (that’s a link to the GPLv3, but of course there are other rules you can agree on: MIT/X11 rules, or APLv2, or others). Many of the people I spoke with at the conference understood the importance of licensing and of working with — or at least not against — the communities that produce the Free Software they use. It struck me that there is an increase in what I’ll call “business-led Free Software” alongside “community-led”, and that the management styles and processes of the two are quite different. Heck, talking about management in a community context always makes me a little queasy, call it leadership instead.

I had a nice chat with Peter Vescuso of Black Duck about license compliance and processes. We seem to have a common desire for understanding of licenses and license interactions and working with the implications of license terms for projects and businesses. For Free Software projects — community-led — the desire is for long term safety and stability and protection of the principles that the members of the community around a project want. Pragmatism is necessary to understand how people in multiple fields of endeavour interact. Idealism is needed to start the ball rolling.

It’s planned to be a busy week or three for me with conferences and articles, so somewhere in between I hope to write about some of the other interesting technical and legal stuff that is happening.

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