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Fostering open source software from the University

Fostering open source software from the University

Talk at the Community development & marketing devroom. Don't know whether it will fit, but here it goes.

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Juan Julián Merelo Guervós

February 01, 2013
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Transcript

  1. Fostering free software at the University

  2. The source of open source

  3. Four freedoms JJ Merelo University of Granada Free Software Office

    http://osl.ugr.es http://identi.ca/oslugr
  4. Freedom to choose

  5. Freedom to switch

  6. Freedom to spend

  7. Freedom to innovate

  8. Freedom to increase your mojo

  9. Did I convince you?

  10. Free Software Office, University of Granada Serving free software (and

    the university) since 2008.
  11. Provide epiphanies!

  12. Ride the wave!

  13. Never surrender!

  14. Looking for partners for EC-funded grants Any question? Suggestions? dirosl@ugr.es

    http://osl.ugr.es
  15. Fostering free software at the University

  16. The source of open source An university is a diverse

    community of workers separated in two different groups: researchers and staff, and there are the students. It's the source of open source. LinSoux was born in the university years of Linus, Richard Stallman comes from MIT, and, well, this thing is taking place in an university. So it makes sense to systematically try and convince people there that there's something called free or open source software, and that maybe, perhaps, only if they're ready, they should the fuck start using it right now! And developing, and teaching, and, well, all the things that are done at the university.
  17. Four freedoms JJ Merelo University of Granada Free Software Office

    http://osl.ugr.es http://identi.ca/oslugr How mahy FLOSS talks start with this? The 4 freedoms are great, and the basis of our creed. However, you can't come across with it to people who does not even know the difference between hardware and hardware, people from humanities, 60-year old clerical workers who still call their computer “the electric typewriter”. You tell them the metaphor of the car with the boot welded shut, and they couldn't be happier about it. In fact, I wouldnt mind if I left car stuff to car professionals. Think about the way you look at a photocopier You want it to copy, right? That's the way people look at computers. They want them to do computer things. That's it. Most people are indifferent, and a few are firmly against (mostly in computing services and software engineering depts, but also in others) So you have to reinvent the freedoms so that you convince the architect vicepresident for infrastructure and the manager who studied constitutional law. All of them, with a common past
  18. Freedom to choose It's about using the tools you want

    from the task at hand. Imagine you had to use backpacks from a single brand: JanSport, let's say. Oh, wait, everybody does that already... It's the same thing when a professor asks her students to submit a paper in Word. Exactly the same. Freedom to choose LibreOffice, OpenOffice, ApacheOffice, any other branch in the last two minutes, no? Ok... Abiword... wait, this one sucks anyways... OK, whatever. Freedom to choose. Besides, this is a freedom you have and you give 8as a researcher, or to students)
  19. Freedom to switch How many times have you heard “I'm

    using Matlab because I was taught Matlab and I prepared my classes with Matlab” And then their students will do the same... and so on ad infinitum. An infinite sequence of people teaching Matlab and making MathWorks a tiny bit richer. Let's teach the concepts, not the tools. Octave, Matlab, SciPy, Maxima; what's the difference? Are you teaching how to push buttons or Math? You're free to choose, you're free to switch! You give people the freedom to switch! (except to AbiWord, which still sucks)
  20. Freedom to spend When you sit down to do the

    university budget, first thing you hear is “Make it 10% less than last year”. Second: you have to pay the racket to Microsoft, Oracle, Mathworks and the rest: quarter million euros. Or else. Same happens at the Faculty and Dept. Level. Of course, there will be some licenses that you've just got to pay. No other way out. Maybe for research. But there's nothing magic in administration and teaching stuff, most of the stuff (maybe all) can be done with open source software. And this gives you the freedom to spend it somewhere else. Avoiding to fire teaching assistants, for instance.
  21. Freedom to innovate The worst thing about proprietary software it's

    not that it's expensive and hostage-creating. It's that it's closed. Finished. WYSISYG. Open source software leaves you freedom to innovate. To add stuff. To change it. It allows you to scratch your itch, but also creates that itch that you can later scratch. If you use Octave, there's lot of material available, but you can ellaborate on it, create your own. The interaction pattern with free software is absolutely different from closed software. It's about generosity and sharing, not about paying up and shutting up.
  22. Freedom to increase your mojo This is the last of

    the 4 freedos... what? It's the fifth one? No, in fact it's the 0. I use 0-based counting. What's this about? One student came up to our office saying that he wanted to free his program, done for a term assignment. “Why?” we asked. “I'm fed up with having it copied by all my class mates. This way they'll have at least to mention the original”. Same goes for clerical software for university management. Something done for a PhD. And, of course, software you have created as part of your research. No (open) source, no citations. No citations, no tenure.
  23. Did I convince you? Of course. You're already convinced, you're

    in the fucking FOSDEM, for chrissakes. But my point is that if you want to win people in an university, it's never about the software and it's almost never about the freedom. It's about the budget (and who handles it) it's about resistance to change and it's about vicious cycles.
  24. Free Software Office, University of Granada Serving free software (and

    the university) since 2008. Actually, we serve free software since before, 1993 or else.
  25. Provide epiphanies! Did you remember the time when you started

    to use free software consciously? Maybe because it was free, maybe you wanted to study operating system, maybe you wanted a low-cost Unix box. You have to help people find their own epiphanies. Maybe they realize it's great to never have to worry about viruses. Maybe they realize releasing a library will have them cited to high heaven. Maybe they just find it personally fulfilling and politically motivating. You have to provide the occasions through personal contact, events, free (and paying, of course) lessons. Or, see below
  26. Ride the wave! FORTRAN is a perfectly serviceable language with

    lots of good open source implementations. However, you're not going to wing anyone giving free Fortran lessons. Android, Arduino, jQuery, Python, cloud computing... you have to identify the trending topics in the tech and OS world and attract people to open source using them. Of course, cost cutting is also a wave you have to ride: there's no money for paying licenses, people will stop paying them. But that will not win OS converts unless you engage users and help them manage change.
  27. Never surrender! Like Asterix and Obelix, single-handedly trying to defeat

    the Roman Empire from their little hamlet in Bretagne, never surrendering, FLOSS people must fight battles for years on end and in all fronts: acquisitions, research, teaching, staff training... a battle is not lost until you declare yourself defeated, and there's always a next year to fight for budget, to migrate a subject or a staff office to open source. Sometimes you'll win by exhaustion, but when you do, protect and expand the bridgehead until, eventually, it comprises the whole university.
  28. Looking for partners for EC-funded grants Any question? Suggestions? dirosl@ugr.es

    http://osl.ugr.es