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2003 O'Reilly Open Source Convention: Community, Creativity, Collaboration

July 22, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--The annual O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) drew over 1800 programmers, developers, strategists, and technical staff, as well as the open source-curious to vibrant, tech-friendly Portland, OR from July 7-11. For five days, convention-goers delved into a program designed to "embrace and extend proprietary software," reflecting open source technology's long-awaited move into the mainstream. Open source software "has gone from being a question mark to an exclamation point," quipped OSCON program chair and O'Reilly editor Nathan Torkington.

"What really distinguishes open source is not just source, but an 'architecture of participation,'" noted O'Reilly & Associates founder and CEO Tim O'Reilly. "This architecture of participation allows for a real free market of ideas, in which anyone can put forward a proposed solution to a problem. As we move into the era of dynamic, data-backed applications, and services built out from those applications, the traditional model of 'open source' being defined by source availability seems limiting. As the global role for open source software expands, so do the challenges and rewards for the open source community. It's a pivotal, exciting time to be a part of it all."

The convention's wide range of participants and corporate sponsors--ActiveState, Apple Developer Connection (ADC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Ticketmaster, among others--are just one indication of the breadth of open source technology. Tutorials, keynote addresses, and conference sessions at OSCON were presented by the likes of Mitch Kapor, Robert Lefkowitz, Milton Ngan, Stormy Peters, Paul Buck, Stas Bekman, Damian Conway, Miguel de Icaza, George Dyson, Myron Hattig, Yukihiro Matsumoto, and David Stutz. The states of six open source technologies were summarized in a "States of the Union" address by Larry Wall, Guido van Rossum, Theodore Ts'o, Greg Stein, Shane Caraveo, Monty Widenius, and David Axmark.

Book signing events, birds of a feather sessions, video game parties, trips to local sights, and lots of animated hallway discussions at all hours balanced the formal program. A "meet the authors" event, where attendees had the chance to chat with over twenty authors speaking at the convention, was held during the IBM-sponsored exhibit hall reception. Apple Developers Connection's Rendezvous Lounge, featuring the latest Mac hardware and software, was jumping throughout the convention. Portland treasure Powell's Books set up a popular satellite bookstore on the exhibit floor.

Some of the other open source-related events at OSCON included:

  • A "geek volunteerism" summit that brought together key players in technology volunteerism--non-profit organizations, government agencies, and social entrepreneurs--to boost grassroots technology and IT infrastructure in developing nations.

  • OSCAMP held a half-day meeting for Oregon's developers, users, and supporters to learn about core open source issues from national speakers.

  • Over $4,500 was raised for The Perl Foundation's general development fund at a party and auction sponsored by DynDNS.org and Onyx Neon.

  • The Linux Professional Institute administered LPI exams 101 and 201, vendor-neutral training certification for Linux System Administrators.

OSCON once again was the platform for a number of important announcements by participating companies and organizations, including:

OSCON also provided the perfect platform to recognize leaders in the open source community. Awards were bestowed throughout the convention:

  • Mac Innovators Awards: In the new International category, the CodingMonkeys from Bavaria won for Hydra. First place winner in the US category is August Mueller's VooDooPad. A winners' reception was held in the exhibit hall, courtesy of sponsor ADC.

  • The 2003 Frank Willison Award for Contributions to the Python Community, selected by the PythonLabs group at Zope Corporation, was presented to Fredrik Lundh for his many contributions not only in the form of code, but also in communicating and educating the Python community. He is also the creator and maintainer of the Daily Python-URL.

  • ActiveState honored those individuals who actively contribute to open source languages and display excellence in their programming efforts. Programmers' Choice Awards winners are Tim Bunce, Stig Bakken, Mark Hammond, Uche Ogbuji and Mike Olson; Activators' Choice Awards went to Ilya Zakharevich, Ilia Alshanetsky, Martin von Lowis, and Ken Holman.

  • Jarkko Hietaniemi, Andreas Koenig, and Robert Spier received White Camel Awards from The Perl Foundation for their unflagging efforts on behalf of the Perl community.

OSI president Eric Raymond and ZDNet editor-in-chief Dan Farber came to OSCON to announce the creation of the annual "Open Source Awards" to recognize individuals who have made open source contributions so significant that they have impacted the technology industry at large. The first annual Open Source Awards are sponsored by Sun Microsystems, ActiveState, and US Venture Partners, and will be announced at the 2004 O'Reilly Open Source Convention.

Two convention details are cause for economic optimism. Attendance was up by nearly 300 people over OSCON 2002. In addition, Torkington noted that, "Last year, everyone knew someone who had been laid off, whereas this year everyone knows someone who has landed a job."

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