First take: OSS World Summit 2007 in Guangzhou

First take: OSS World Summit 2007 in Guangzhou

Summary: Last week (June 21 & 22), I attended the 2007 Open Source China Open Source World summit in Guangzhou, hosted by China Open Source Promotion Union (COPU).

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Last week (June 21 & 22), I attended the 2007 Open Source China Open Source World summit in Guangzhou, hosted by China Open Source Promotion Union (COPU).

The organizers managed to get quite a few interesting speakers down to Guangzhou, including some international OSS VIPs like Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin, Apache founder Brian Behlendorf, Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth, SourceForge founder Larry Augustin and Sun Microsystems' Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps, to name just a few.

The conference started with the main forum on Thursday, with the usual welcome addresses by a Guangdong province government official and COPU Chairman Professor Lu Shouqun. Instead of boring you with a complete summary of all the presentations, here are my personal highlights:

Yu Jianfei, director of Linux Application Software Meeting of Guangdong Province, added some tension to the rivalry between the Chinese cities Beijing and Guangdong, both of which are eyeing to be the country's No. 1 software engineering region, putting a special emphasis on Guangdong's national leadership in embedded Linux development.

Apache founder Brian Behlendorf gave a presentation about the principles of OSS (open source software) projects. His most interesting statement from my point of view was: "You have the freedom to fork." While lot of other speakers continuously tend to warn about the risks of forking projects, Brian defines it as a fundamental mechanism to make different innovations happen simultaneously.

IBM's vice president of China Software Development Laboratory, Josephine Cheng, told the audience how the company's deals with "innovation with Linux and open source" and making it a billion dollar business.

Professor Li Guojie from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, put the spotlight on the duty of Chinese OSS projects and businesses to "re-contribute" to the international communities. This is a very big issue in my opinion because there are in fact only a small number of Chinese contributers who are visible (and participating) in international OSS forums. I hope this will change soon because OSS communities live from communication and contributions.

Simon Phipps surprised me a little when he called his employer Sun Microsystems the No. 1 Linux contributor, because the company does not do any work on the Linux kernel at all. But, when I gave it another thought, Simon's point of view is absolutely right. Looking beyond the kernel, there's the NFS (Network File Sharing System), OpenOffice.org, the Mozilla project, the Gnome Desktop and many more projects, where Sun is a major force, driving the Linux ecosystem successfully forward.

Larry Augustin, the venture capitalist and founder of SourceForge, gave a very interesting presentation about the "new breed" of profit and loss" with open source as the financial or business model. His conclusion was that these business models are very similar to those to the "Golden Years" of software business back in the 90's. So, investors, get ready for OSS!

Professor Xu Hongbo, China's coordinator of the Open Source Competence Center, spoke about the project Qualipso, an alliance between the European Union, Brazil and China to enhance OSS quality.

Zheng Zhongyuan, vice president of Redflag Linux, talked about the latest projects of his company. Their cooperation with Intel on the development of a new generation of ultra-mobile PCs, seems to be of special interest for the consumer. A cool device running completely on Linux and other OSS software.

RedHat's vice president Tom Rabon, discussed his company's business model, putting an emphasis on the benefit--such as choice, flexibility and cost reduction--for governments in using OSS.

Hu Caiyong, CEO of Redflag CH2000 (not affliated to Redflag Linux), a company producing office software based on OpenOffice.org, talked about "The Conflict between OpenOffice.org's Freedom Spirit and Business Economy Style". This conflict is still a major issue in China, as there a not too many successful business models based on software services yet. CH2000, however, is one of the very few Chinese OSS companies that are massively re-contributing to their community.

Jim Lacey, chairman of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), the largest vendor-independent organization that specializes in training and certification of Linux professionals, introduced his enterprise and their network of services. While partly a self-advertisement, his presentation was nevertheless interesting because it raised the need for continuously education to keep up-to-date with the latest challenges in OSS business.

Dr. C. Joseph Lee, China CTO at Microsoft, gave a very promising presentation about interoperability and open standards. I am very eager to see results on this soon.

Gregory Lopez, OSS consultant of Thales, introduced the Sino-French OSS cooperation in the e-government sector. It's quite an interesting project because the target is to create an interoperability framework for public administration IT systems across the European Union and China.

I'll touch on some highlights from the second day of the summit in my next blog posting, so watch this space.

Topic: Open Source

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