The nation's peak Linux body will informally separate some of its governance and executive functions in a move to relieve some
of the pressure on its voluntary leadership.
"One of the first things we've got to sort out is our actual
organisational structure, which was a bit of a painful topic last
time we spoke," Linux Australia's Jon Oxer told ZDNet Australia last week
in the wake of his re-election as the body's president.
Oxer was referring to the organisation's internal debate in
2005 about its future. At the time Oxer said in a public e-mail
that Linux Australia was at a dangerous "teenager stage of development" where its voluntary committee had to be refreshed annually as executive members got burnt out by an
overload of work.
But in 2006 the Melbourne developer is more optimistic about
Linux Australia's future.
"We're moving down the track of separating governance and
execution, which is allowing us to do some really cool things,"
"One of the things which was really successful last year ...
was to create more subcommittees."
"People think 'committees never get anything done'. But the
general idea is basically to find people who are already doing
cool things in the open source world, or that want to do it but
need resources to do it, and do them officially as Linux
"The good thing about taking that approach is that it's really
helped relieve a lot of the pressure that was building up," Oxer
"By doing it this way it means the committee doesn't have to
be hands-on with everything, it's really just a matter of making
sure that the organisation as a whole is healthy ... and the
people that have got the specific interests can get along with
what they do."
Linux Australia will also seek to diversity its funding base
in 2006. The body has so far primarily been funded by a modest
profit from the annual linux.conf.au conference it runs every
"The problem is that means Linux Australia is entirely
dependent on linux.conf.au for all of its operational funds,"
"I personally don't like the idea of having all our eggs in
one basket, so it'd be good to see what alternatives there are to
bring us some income."
According to Oxer, the funding drive is not aimed at just
"trying to bring in money for money's sake".
"The reason we want to raise funds is so that we can do more
things, have more grants dispensed," he said.
Oxer said his body gave out "quite a few" grants to people
doing work in areas related to open source.
"For example there were funds given to Teen Challenge in
Murray Bridge, which is an organisation that is doing computer
competency training for people that are in a difficult situation -- like being long-term unemployed or homeless."
"The thing to do is teach them skills that will make them more
employable. And they do all that using open source software."
Linux Australia will also focus more on its public advocacy
role in 2006, with a strong presence at trade shows like CeBIT
and LinuxWorld, as well as more grassroots efforts like Software
Outfoxing the competition
Oxer claimed his prediction twelve
months ago that the success of the Firefox Web browser would
drive takeup of other open source applications in Australia was
coming to pass.
"I've seen a lot of people becoming aware of open source
because of it," he said.
"It hasn't been a dramatic thing, but I think it's a trend
that is definitely there. Talking to people day to day now, a lot
of people are now familiar with Firefox even if they don't switch
to it as their primary browser."
"So the concept has been presented to them and they're now
more open to the idea of the fact that open source software is
high quality, and can be a viable alternative to commercial
applications, that it's not just a toy system," he concluded.
Linux Australia's new committee will have its first face to
face meeting in the next several weeks.