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Intersections — “Open source lifestyle: classroom to career and beyond” from FOSSLC (was OSBootCamp)

In the Fedora Ambassador gig, at nearly every event there is an opportunity to get a view of the intersection of Fedora, open source, and the many backgrounds, experiences, and questions of other people at the event.

Take last Fall’s OSBootCamp as an example.  This series of no-cost events was put on by an organization that is now the Free and Open Source Software Learning Centre, hosted at Universities to introduce students to open source, regardless of their previous experience.  Taking a look at the line-up from the day I was there, they brought in some heavy hitters with great stuff to say – Eric Allman, Kirk McKusick,  Brian Behlendorf, Matt Olander, Josh Berkus, Leslie Hawthorn, and so on.  On that day, I talked with and presented to people who are brand-new to open source and people who practically invented the community organization methods we all take for granted.

I gave a student-focused, 20 minute presentation on why to contribute to open source from within the classroom.  Focused on students, it recommended they seek classes that let them work on live code instead of doing an autopsy on the same old dead code.  I also talked about how Red Hat and Fedora pick and grow projects, as part of letting the audience get an idea of how to choose where to contribute.  The video is available on the FOSSLC site, and isn’t too bad a view of me talking. The slides with my full set of notes are available on the Fedora wiki:

There were some other interesting parts of that day worth mentioning.  Kirk McKusick (FreeBSD) and Eric Allman (Sendmail) both mentioned recognizing the direct connection between FreeBSD and Fedora Project structures and growth/sustainability methodologies.  We felt the only real difference is licensing philosophy.  I appreciated McKusick’s experience with the BSD license.  He said the BSD license allows people to realize for
themselves they are better off putting their code upstream for maintainability purposes — pragmatic realization over time v. GPL’s benevolent forcefulness.  He referenced many situations over the years where businesses had decided to put their code in to the BSD trunk instead of maintaining and reporting it with every release; the pain taught them the value of the open source methodology.

There was a good  database panel that reminded me somewhat of my experience talking in panels with other Linux distro community leaders.  When asked why choose one over the other, all gave descriptions of how they fit a niche more than overlap.  “You wouldn’t want to run a website with a lot of connections on Ingres; you wouldn’t want to run a financial trading system on MySQL.”