Open Source and Sustainability - Abstracts

by Sebastian Rahtz on 11 January 2005


Abubakar : Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP): An Emerging Cheapest Open Source Client Server Architecture for Businesses

LTSP provides a mechanism using which one can utilize low cost workstations to behave as a full fledge Linux based PC, offering you all that you can do on you own personal computer. The way it works ­ Deploy LTSP on a highend server with Linux. Take a very low end PC, remove hard disk, CDROM and Floppy Drive and add a bootable network card and you have a full fledged PC/Workstation ready to work on. So, if someone has a even a medium size organization with each employee requiring its own computer and most of them do typical PC productivity tasks like, word processing, internet connectivity and other officelike tasks, he would definitely prefer to buy them a cheaper machine rather then spending as much as $700-$800 each. But again he would never want them to go unadministrated or unlogged. This is where the question arises — is there a cheaper and easy to administrate solution to this? And the answer would be, Yes! Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP).

This paper covers LTSP from business point of view, highlighting the cost factor, administration ease, security and adoptability. The paper also contains case studies and implementation models for small to large scale organizations. At the end you shall find a conclusion making recommendations on LTSP adoption.

Jono Bacon : The Open Source Reality Check

Developing an objective, vendor-neutral perspective on Open Source is a difficult task. Traditionally prepped by vendors, many organisations who are exploring Open Source find it near-impossible to identify an objective opinion that is driven by the technology and not by a specific product sold by a plastic-hair wielding salesman.

In this entertaining talk filled with anecdotes, Jono Bacon, Open Source consultant and journalist at government-funded OpenAdvantage, will explore how Open Source has been promoted to organisations in the past and how both customers, vendors and onlookers can craft a realistic, accurate position on the current state of Open Source. This includes coverage of the Open Source business environment, support, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), case studies and more.

If you are interested in learning about Open Source without the spin, this presentation will open your eyes.

Kit Blake : Open Source in a Company Business Model

What distinguishes an open source business from a traditional software business? Infrae is a software development company based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, that focuses on open source software development. The company has existed for five years, and in that time has evolved a business model based on open source. Infrae’s founders believe that OSS has been key to the company’s success.

The company takes a synergy-seeking approach to software development: instead of building only client-specific applications, Infrae develops generic solutions that are useful for multiple parties. If Projects turn into open source Products, other users will have a vested interest in future development and maintenance of the software. This results in sharply reduced expenditures for all. Clients therefore participate in an open network, sharing expenses and trading knowledge.

One of Infrae’s founders, Kit Blake, will describe the company’s learning curve as it developed an open source approach to doing business. The thinking and strategy used in the beginning proved accurate, but fell short in practice. Those early days were exhilarating - with visionary customers funding non-stop development - but they only worked thanks to the amazing tolerance of those patrons.

In the adolescence phase the company had to shift its focus from pure development to offering a range of services expected by more pragmatic customers. An example of what was needed: high quality documentation, the most common complaint about the OSS world. Infrae needed to offer “The Whole Product” (from the book “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore). The company had to fill the gap between “the product delivered to the customer and the original marketing promise made to that customer”. This required not only a change in thinking from the company’s geeks, but additional people with a different mentality. Besides building software, Infrae now offers integration, customization, support, and consulting services.

One of the distinguishing aspects of the OSS business is the openness of the activity. There are no license fees for software, so applications are freely available for inspection, including the code. This means it’s impossible to sell the same feature twice, something traditional software companies depend on. Infrae introduces its customers to each other, and tries to engender a network of clients, users, and external developers that communicate and share. Often clients collaborate on expensive features, splitting the investment in money and time.

Infrae has released a number of applications as OSS including: Silva, a content management system; Kupu, an in-browser editor; Five, middleware for the Zope framework; and Document Library, a document management system that helps ensure compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. Some of these have become successful open source projects, building a community of active developers and users. Others have not, but are still successful products.

The talk is meant for an audience interested in open source business. It will focus on lessons learned, problems encountered, approaches that worked, and difficulties not yet solved.

James Dalziel : Why sustainability matters for open and closed source software

Sustainability has become increasingly important to successful open source initiatives. A range of sustainability models are developing, such as: direct government support for a chosen system (eg, Shibboleth in the UK); combinations of charitable foundation funding with partner contributions (eg, Sakai); commercial services and support built around open source (eg, Moodle); dual licensing (eg, MySQL); and various mixtures of the above. This presentation will review a range of sustainability models for open source software, including reflections on the experience of building and implementing an open source sustainability approach for LAMS (an open source e-learning system). The presentation will also review the challenges of sustainability for closed source software, especially in cases of “end of lifed” products, company acquisitions and changed company focus.

James Dalziel: Lessons from LAMS: The highs and lows of going open source

LAMS is an open source system for authoring, delivering and managing sequences of learning activities. It is a new breed of multi-actor workflow system applied to the problem of re-usable learning designs. LAMS began as a collaboration between a commercial company (WebMCQ) and Macquarie University, and later moved to MELCOE at Macquarie, with the LAMS software released as open source (under the GPL) by the Macquarie-backed LAMS Foundation. A parallel open source services and support company (LAMS International) was set up to complement the LAMS Foundation. LAMS has been adopted in school and tertiary education, especially in Australian, New Zealand and the UK. The recently launched LAMS Community provides a global website for discussion among LAMS users, and sharing of LAMS sequences. The next generation of LAMS will be available during 2006, including a modular architecture and pluggable activity tools.

This session will provide reflections on the highs and lows of LAMS going open source, including interactions with commercial vendors and governments, user feedback, open source community issues, licensing, funding, business models and sustainability, interactions with other open source projects and personal experiences. It will conclude with reflections on the future for LAMS.

Paul David : tbd

[no abstract available yet]

David De Roure: The OMII experience

The OMII provides a web service infrastructure for building grid applications. It has focussed on providing an open source system that addresses the user requirements of combining ease of use with a secure environment. The OMII builds on this foundation with additional platform support, documentation and a comprehensive training programme. The OMII platform focuses on the needs of distinct yet important stakeholders within Grid computing: the Service Provider and the Client.

OMII-UK is funded by EPSRC through the UK e-Science Core programme. It is a collaboration between the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, the OGSA-DAI project at the National e-Science Centre and EPCC, and the myGrid project at the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester.

A casual review of successful open source projects shows that few originated inside large corporations. Instead, small companies and independent developers are the engines which start open source software.

What are the business models behind open source production? This talk provides real-world business information about the SMEs involved in open source business in Europe. The focus is on a business partnership of companies producing Plone and Zope, two award-winning open source success stories.

The presentation discusses the market for content management and the financial indicators behind these companies, with an emphasis on UK SMEs.

Tom Franklin and Oleg Liber: Development of a sustainable model for the support of an open source toolkit

Reload (see is a set of open source tools which have been developed with financial aid from JISC to support the use of SCORM, IMS specifications and IEEE standards. They are freely available and very widely used around the world by academics within institutions, in support of commercial applications. In some cases the tools are seen as de facto reference implementations of the specifications. With the end of the current funding there has been a need to develop a sustainable model for the continued development and support of the tools. This is complicated by many of the users not being budget holders who would be able or willing to support continued development.

The talk will look at the funding models which were considered and their advantages and disadvantage, and will go on to look at how we developed a business plan based on one of the models.

Rebecca Griffiths : The OOSS Study

In recent years over a dozen open source software (OSS) projects have been launched among higher education institutions with the aim of meeting the community’s needs more effectively and at less cost than do commercial options presently available. There is, however, a concern in the community that adoption is hindered by uncertainty about future support for and improvements in the software. The creation of a new organization, which we refer to with generic term “OOSS” (Organization for Open Source Software), has been proposed to address this need. This concept has received significant interest from the community and from a group of senior college and university administrators. There is a desire for further exploration of the need for such an organization and for a clearer definition of what its mission and areas of activity would be.

We have therefore undertaken a study to evaluate the landscape and market environment for open source software (OSS) created by and for the higher education community, to assess the need for an organization to promote the support and adoption of these OSS projects, and to define this organization’s mission and service model, should we determine that such an organization is desirable. Paul Courant, Professor of Economics and former Provost at the University of Michigan, is leading the study in collaboration with Ithaka. Michael Carter, a consultant with decades of experience in academic computing and instructional technologies with major universities and leading companies in the technology sector, is also assisting in this effort.

One of our guiding principles is to pursue a consultative and collaborative process to arrive at our recommendations. We are conducting interviews with a broad range of constituents, including: developers of open source software in and outside of higher education; end users, such as CTO or CIOs, CFOs, librarians, provosts and other administrators from a diverse set of institutions; commercial firms that are engaged with OSS; and competitors to OSS projects. We have also sought input at gatherings of key constituents such as the Commons Solutions Group meeting and the Research In Technology retreat hosted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finally, we are conducting a thorough review of related projects and studies to ensure that we take full advantage of the valuable work others are doing. A final report on our findings will be broadly distributed and made publicly available.

Funding for the study is being generously provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, Foothill-DeAnza Community College, Indiana University, Marist College, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina and Stanford University.

Brian Kelly : Synergies Between Open Standards and Open Source

The importance of open standards in the development of widely accessible and interoperable networked services is widely appreciated. However the selection and use of open standards can be difficult: open standards may fail to gain acceptance in the marketplace; others may fail to live up to expectations or be difficult to deploy. This paper outlines a contextual approach which has been developed to support the use of open standards in JISC’s development programmes. This approach is supportive of open standards but recognises the dangers of attempting to mandate open standards in the heterogeneous environment found in the higher education community. The contextual approach is based on a 3-layered architecture: (1) a standards catalogue, which provides a brief summary of relevant standards (including proprietary formats) together with a risk assessment which outlines potential difficulties in use of the standards; (2) a policy layer which specifies whether any standards are mandated and the approaches which should be taken in the selection of standards and (3) a compliance layer which defines the approaches to be taken to ensuring compliance with agreed policies on use of the standards.

The paper describes how this contextual approach has been applied to other areas including addressing Web accessibility and outlines how it can be applied to areas such as the selection, development and use of open source software. There will be clear advantages with a consistent approach which covers areas such as standards, accessibility and open source (and which could be enhanced to cover non-technical areas such as policies on project management) including benefits to funding bodies (such as the JISC) and a better understanding or the requirements for developers.

The paper concludes by describing how the community-based approach which has been successful in the open source world can be applied to the development of a sustainable support infrastructure for open standards.

Jacquie Kelly : It aint what you do, its the way that you do it, thats what gets results

An IT system is a significant investment and as such should be included as part of strategic decision making. This process starts with an investigation of business processes and the first question to be asked is ‘why are we doing this?’

Some senior managers have been swayed by the suggestion that open source equates to ‘free’ and so have not made their decisions based upon a sound strategic approach.

Each institution has different technical and functional requirements: core requirements are common to most but it is frequently the attention to the local variations that leads to successful implementation.

The use of ICT in learning and teaching has greatly matured over the last 10 years moving from cottage industry to mainstream. This maturity leads to the consideration of scalability when choosing a system. Pedagogic approaches to e-learning are now beginning to drive ICT developments and these changing requirements have an effect on the sustainability of the chosen system. To meet this need, adaptability and flexibility are needed. Service oriented Approaches (such as the JISC e-Framework) offer new opportunities.

This talk will introduce resources that can help senior management in their strategic IT decisions taking into consideration the changing requirements of the 21st century educational institution.

Eoin Kilfeather : The Persistence of Knowledge: A Case Study in Sustainability and Open Code

The European Commission has, for many years, supported research and development in Information Society Technologies (IST). The EU’s IST thematic priority is intended to contribute directly to realising European policies for the knowledge society. This priority for research emerged from discussions and decisions taken at ministerial meetings such as the Lisbon Council of 2000.

The strategy adopted by the Lisbon Council was for an accelerated transition to a competitive and dynamic knowledge economy capable of sustainable growth. Key to this strategy was the application of information society technology applications and services in economic and public sectors, and in society as a whole. Underlying this application of technology to social and economic policy is a set of assumptions regarding the efficacy and efficiency of public technological ‘intervention’.

The European Commission has, increasingly, sought to maximize the exploitation and dissemination of research results from the IST projects it has supported. In so doing, the EU has also instigated a number of ‘support measures’ to help researchers to better share their results. Crucially it has sought to promote the use of Open Source and Open Code as a means of ensuring that results are exploited and sustainable, through initiatives such as FLOSS and FLOSSPOLS.

In this case study the author examines a number of projects drawn from the EU IST 5th and 6th Framework Programmes to see whether and to what extent their results have been exploited. The study restricts itself to a number of quantitative measures, such as domain name persistence, code reuse, and code versioning to determine the extent to which knowledge generated in these projects has persisted beyond the life of the projects. The study also examines citation of the projects in published material, such as journal and conference papers. The study seeks to determine if there is a correlation between OSS and sustainability of knowledge in these projects. In so doing, the study raises some questions as to how European OSS, and policy towards it, can foster an innovative system of knowledge production and dissemination.

The study finds a lack of code visibility from most of these projects within public repositories. The study also shows that there is poor integration of these EU funded projects with the broader OSS community. The study does find that research results from these projects have not been valuable in many domains it finds that software development results are often under exploited. The study concludes with a discussion on possible ways in which EU supported ICT research can better disseminate and sustain OSS code.

Peter Kirstein, Piers O’Hanlon, and Socrates Varakliotis: The UCL media tools past, present, and future

The UCL media tools have been widely used since their origins in the early nineties; providing vehicles for pioneering work in multimedia research, and as powerful media agents, for example, within Advanced Collaborative Environments, most notably in AccessGrid and VRVS. The main tools provide for audio, with the RAT tool, video, using VIC, and text, using NTE. Both RAT and NTE originated within UCL, whilst VIC was largely created in Berkeley, though UCL has since maintained an updated version.

We plan to present a case study of their evolution over the years; from their individual origins and uses to their present day status. The way the tools were developed and maintained over the years has gone though a number of different approaches, and been funded from a variety of different sources.

The new SUMOVER JISC project will update the tools, incorporating many improvements and bug fixes that have been made by different other groups, which could not be integrated into the main code base through lack of effort. It will re-engineer their development basis, such that development of the tools will become more straightforward and widely accessible. The project has begun to foster links between interested parties such as Argonne National Laboratories, VRVS and inSORS. To the extent that this is practicable, it will provide a single code base that can be used by all interested in the tools. It is already clear that the policies of some of the parties developing products will limit the extent to which this can be done. The main goal is to provide a good basis for their continued evolution.

Felix Klee : Micropayments For Microtasks: An Experiment

After giving a brief motivation why systems that facilitate micropayments for microtasks are important, I provide a list of goals that I believe a good system should attain:

  • Simplicity: The system must be simple to use.
  • Quickness: Tasks must be finished quickly.
  • Good pay: People taking up tasks must get good pay.
  • Trust: The number of disputes should be minimized.
  • Independence: We shouldn’t be at a single player’s mercy.

Organizations and companies are presented that offer systems meeting some but not all of these goals (Google Answers, CollabNet, Codeweaver’s Pledges, Affero, etc.). Eventually, a proposal for an experimental system is decuced from the above goals:

  • Simplicity: Existing infrastructure is reused, e.g. news groups and bug databases. Descriptions of tasks that are offered for pay are tagged using a URL registered at a so called hub. Different hubs offer different options for inserting/retrieving money into/from the system.
  • Quickness: Tasks can easily be found in the existing infrastructure and in the task database that is synchronized among hubs.
  • Good pay: A single task can be funded by more than one user.
  • Trust: Users and hubs are rated and certified.
  • Independence: Hubs can be set up by anyone.
  • Areas beyond software development that the system can be applied to:

    • Science and arts: For example a small routine mathematical calculation is a micro task, and so is the composition of a simple cell phone ring tone.
    • Education: Micro payments serve as a motivator respectively a liberator if money is sparse, for example for people living in developing countries.
    • Perhaps some day: Macro payments for macro tasks, trade of material goods.

Some topics for discussion:

  • Viability and alternatives.
  • A protocol for communication among hubs.
  • Winning users and maintainers of hubs.
  • The rating system and certificates.
  • Efficient negotiation.
  • Preventing abuse.
  • Private sub systems.

Glyn Moody: Beyond Open Source

[no abstract available yet]

John Norman : Welcome

[no abstract available yet]

Bill Olivier : Top-Slice & Open Source

A brief presentation followed by a discussion of the role the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) should play in open source development.

JISC is funded through the Funding Councils top-slicing government funds for Universities and Colleges. About half the funds JISC receives goes on providing JANET (Joint Academic Network), the other half divided roughly equally between Services and Development. A proportion of the Development funds goes on software projects which, under new Government and JISC policies, should, by default, be open source. Two issues arise:

  • How are JISC funded open source developments to be sustained?
  • More broadly, what ought to be JISC’s role, as a top-sliced funded body with responsibility to all institutions, with respect to community-based OSS development? These are live topics currently being addressed within JISC. The session provides the opportunity for the experience and expertise of those present to be brought to bear on these issues and be fed into JISC strategy formulation.

Bill Olivier : Top-Slice & Open Source (discussion)

[no abstract available yet]

G.W. Brian Owen : Software @ SFU library: a work in progress

Simon Fraser University Library has been an active developer and advocate of open source software solutions for libraries since the mid-1990s. We develop, support, and co-ordinate the development of two important software suites: reSearcher and the PKP Suite.

SFU Library developed and implemented the reSearcher suite, an integrated set of open source tools for locating and managing electronic information resources, designed for use by students and reSearchers in academic libraries. reSearcher components are Citation Manager, CUFTS, GODOT, dbWiz and the CUFTS Knowledgebase. These were developed with the support of the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL) and the British Columbia Electronic Library Network (ELN).

In early 2005, SFU Library became the home for the coordination of the ongoing development and support of the PKP Suite of open source software in partnership with John Willinsky and the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) at the University of British Columbia, the original developers. These systems support scholarly publishing and communication. OJS has been adopted worldwide as an online publishing platform by over 400 scholarly online journals. PKP Suite components are Open Journal System, Open Conference System and PKP metadata harvester.

SFU Library realized it was time to develop a more comprehensive and coordinated approach, or business model, for this software activity in order to make it more collaborative, distributed, and sustainable. This led to the creation of Software @ SFU Library, our Website that provides a front-end to these systems and describes the hosting, support, and other services available:

In the first six months, the learning curve has been a steep one as we have dealt with pricing models, support agreements, responding to RFIs and other queries, participating in and maintaining various support forums, while still developing, testing, and releasing major new versions of the software. Software @ SFU Library is a case study that is still very much a work in progress. We are engaged in a major transition from primarily being a software developer to many new roles and activities: a vendor concerned with presenting and marketing products; participating in research proposals and other funding initiatives; and stimulating and coordinating the development and growth of active communities around the software. At the same time, we want to remain true to the ideals that prompt many individuals and organizations to become involved with open source projects.

Aingaran Pillai : APLAWS+ - An Institutional Open Source Community

APLAWS+ ( An open source content management system developed by the London Borough of Camden in partnership with Red Hat Ltd. as part of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister’s National Projects Programme. From April 2003 to March 2004 the ODPM funded it’s development and up until March 2005 funded it’s rollout and dissemination. The funding from the ODPM is now complete.

Apart from the financial and specific support provided by these central government funded projects, the APLAWS+ concept has moved forward on its own momentum. There is an established user group which has already made considerable strides in taking the product set forward. However, unlike other Open Source communities, the APLAWS community is not made up of volunteer hackers, but is made up of web masters, managers and developers from local authorities, commercial suppliers, universities and schools.

Most of the developments and enhancements are done by the various suppliers either through funded work or via support agreements. Some local authorities, like Camden have internal development teams, who also contribute to the development. Exploiting both the resources of the internal and supplier development team on the principles of open source development Camden has developed a cost effective procurement model. This model is being employed by the APLAWS+ user group to establish a framework for joint procurement. This it is hoped will encourage active interest from suppliers, mutually beneficial development for the users and continued development of the APLAWS+ product set.

The talk will be on the APLAWS+ community and their work around sustainability addressing:

  • Choice of open source license to encourage active supplier participation
  • Clearly defined community guidelines and policies
  • Formation of a technical and user steering committees and their roles and responsibilities within user group
  • Cost effective procurement model using a combination of internal development team’s and suppliers’ resources
  • Establishing of partnership protocols for joint procurement
  • Open source tools used for collaborative requirements gathering and roadmap planning
  • Sharing in the development and use of training resources and materials
  • Enterprising user group meetings supported by suppliers sharing knowledge and experience
  • Essential constituents of a marketing website and documents evangelizing the product (NB: We are currently working on a new website for the project)
  • Proactive involvement in European open source and information society conferences 4. Talk AppealAs this talk will address the issues pertaining to building a successful and self-sustaining community around enterprise level open source applications, it will interest:

  • Strategic funding bodies with respect to understanding the issues and ensuring the successful delivery of such projects
  • Universities and schools in how to effectively engage the supplier community in a cost effective manner
  • Software development projects in how to plan for and implement a sustainable ‘evangelizing’ campaign.
  • Businesses in appreciating the opportunities in such open source projects and to provide services and consulting around them.

Sarah Porter : Where next?

[no abstract available yet]

Richard Rothwell : Migrating to Open Source Servers on smaller networks

Many small and medium sized organisations have found themselves running complex proprietary network systems. They have then discovered that they are in a situation where regular major and comprehensive upgrades are required. This session will discuss the requirements of such organisations and routes by which they may deploy Free and Open Source solutions to satisfy their needs. The session will be split into three parts.

The first session will discuss the key issues for such a migration, covering topics as diverse as: * identifying needs of users; * explaining to users and management; * the central protocols for networks; * the solutions that are availalble; * evaluating costs and benefits.

The second session will look at Karoshi ( Karoshi is a network management system that runs on Linux servers. The system together with bundled software combines to provide a secure, reliable and stable platform. The Karoshi management tools provide a simple interface that allows for quick installation, setup and maintenance of a network. It offers a standardised configuration, allowing the best use of technical resources. It is FLOSS software which provides: * A user authentication server compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Linux; * File servers; * Internet filtering and caching server; * An Intranet site, room booking, per room Internet banning, ICT Helpdesk and multimedia; * Web based logs of all internet activity; * An E-mail, Internet Website, Home Access, Online/E-Learning Centre and Online Library Server; * Remote Access; * A print server with web based management of print queues; * A Backup Server, backups daily to hard disk; * A Thin-client server.

The third session will be a deal with questions from the audience. The panel will include an educator, technician and commercial open source software developer.

Andrew Savory : Your open source strategy sucks!

Open Source in corporate environments is much more than grabbing a package and installing it. Even in Open Source, “failing to plan is planning to fail”: learn how you can make the most out of your Open Source experience by finding out how to persuade your boss that Open Source is a good thing, how to identify the right Open Source solutions to your needs and how to participate in online communities and get all the support you need. This talk will try to give the audience an overview of the most used Open Source business models and provide a few hints to avoid pitfalls.

Niall Sclater : Enhancing and Embedding a Mission-Critical Open Source Virtual Learning Environment

The Open University recently selected Moodle as a core component of its virtual learning environment after an extensive requirements gathering process and evaluations of commercial and open source products. The University has now launched a £4m programme to enhance the Moodle suite of elearning tools, integrate Moodle with existing systems and promote the uptake of the new tools by course teams. This process requires liaising between the many interested parties in a dispersed and complex organisation, implementing changes to skills and working practices, and managing benefits, risks and the communication strategy. It also involves overseeing changes to the overall technical infrastructure and integration with other new and evolving systems such as the enterprise content management system and the customer relationship management system.

One particularly interesting issue is how development staff who are used to working in a particular institutional culture manage the transition to being part of an open source community where gaining respect from other members of that community is essential in being able to update the codebase. Another question is whether it is feasible to deploy a system of strategic importance to the institution when that system is constantly evolving in ways which are outside the control of the organisation. How much can the University influence the developments to ensure that they meet its needs, while simultaneously bringing on board the rest of the open source community of developers and users? Is it inevitable that at some stage the institution will be forced to “fork” its own version of the code?

While many of the Moodle tools require little updating to be usable by the OU, there will be some significant changes to the architecture such as the roles and permissions model and improvements to its accessibility. Meanwhile it is intended to develop significantly some of the modules such as the quiz engine, developing new question types and integrating the more sophisticated OpenMark system already developed at the University. New synchronous communication tools for audioconferencing, videoconferencing, chat and shared whiteboards are being considered for implementation within Moodle by redeveloping systems already built at the Knowledge Media Institute such as BuddySpace, Compendium and FlashMeeting. Some of these tools are aimed at helping students make sense of the vast amount of information on the Internet and will provide sophisticated presence indicators and other community building features. Meanwhile the University is considering the use of podcasting and other forms of mobile learning which will integrate with the virtual learning environment.

Moodle is the focus for a wide range of activity within the University which will help it to transform itself from an organisation where the primary learning medium is print to one which fully exploits the pedagogical capabilities of elearning. The fact that the system is open source means it can be enhanced extensively by the OU; the selection of a commercial system would have put a damper on local innovation rather than encouraging it. Meanwhile these enhancements will be fed back to the Worldwide elearning community while simultaneously allowing OU staff and students to benefit from innovative techno-pedagogical enhancements to the system made by others.

Colin Smith : Developing an Open Source Health Information System for the 21st century

The availability of information is a major factor for healthcare providers seeking to provide cost effective healthcare, but traditionally developed and licensed healthcare information systems are failing to adequately meet the needs of healthcare providers and their patients in both developed and developing countries. Healthcare information systems are generally costly, unresponsive to changes in organization and clinical practice, and inhibit the process of healthcare informatics innovation, information sharing, standardization and collaboration.

The talk will present an alternative model of a sustained, collaborative Open Source development based upon the experience of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Over more than two decades the VA has evolved a unique in house process of continuous sustained development of its information system VistA, which is now one of the most advanced in the world, providing and comprehensive hospital and primary care information system designed around an Electronic Health Record (EHR). VistA is freely available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and WorldVistA, a not for profit organization, is seeking to use VistA as the starting point for an on-going world wide, collaborative open source development effort that can revolutionize the way in which healthcare information systems are developed

Elliot Smith : Open source - walking into the sunset

It is easy enough to download and install open source software to solve a short-term need: “I need a portal; I’ll just pick one of these content management systems and stick it in my web space”. But in the long term, you need to keep that deployment secure and up to date. Or you may decide to expand its feature set using third-party add-ons, or scale it to more users. In all of these cases, it helps if you at least consider how you can maintain your initial deployment to meet new needs.

In this presentation, I will give some guidelines for sustainable use of open source software:

  • Finding and identifying projects with a future
  • Sensing when you are being locked into a piece of software
  • How and when to support open source software yourself
  • Scalability (and how to tell if software is scalable)
  • Upgrading and patching software for beginners
  • Keeping up with bug reports, patches, new features, and add-ons Based on 18 months of experience supporting use of open source in SMEs, I will outline some of the key tools and techniques which can help you make long term, practical use of open source software.

Dietrich Splettstoesser : Model of an Open Source University Information System for Developing Countries

Public universities in developing countries are generally in a more precarious financial situation than similar institutions in the industrialized world. Government funding for universities has in most of those countries continuously decreased over the last two decades with serious consequences for the sustainability of IT/IS infrastructures. The digital divide has become wider during this period as installed hardware systems are often beyond maintainability and the software is typically outdated. Under these circumstances, OSS appears to be the only promising approach to sustainable use of IT in higher education.

This paper provides an overview of an OSS-based IS infrastructure at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, where a resolution on the adoption of OSS has initiated a systematic search for and subsequent evaluation, adaptation and implementation of open source application software covering all university functions. Applications such as Academic Register and Student Administration, Finance, Human Resources, Library and Decision Support are being implemented on an operational OSS basis, consisting of Linux, Apache, Mozilla, Postfix, MySQL, Samba, Open Office, and Moodle.

The Academic Register system provides modules for the planning and control of academic and research programs. Student Administration includes all activities required to identify and register students, maintain student data, and monitor students’ progress, performance and results.

Financial management consists of managing the accounting systems, preparing statements and reports, budgeting, and internal audit processes. The subsystems cover the General Ledger, Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Asset Management, Contracts and Grants Administration, Purchasing, Budget Administration, and Endowment Management.

The Human Resources system supports planning, recruitment and appointments, administration, training, and job evaluation through appropriate subsystems that maintain employee and job data, provide payroll reporting and job evaluation functions, and suggest relevant staff training.

The Library system supports acquisition planning and budgeting, maintaining the public access catalog, and reservation and registration of loans. Subsystems for acquisition, catalog maintenance, and storage/retrieval generate acquisition proposals, prepare budgets, monitor procurement and acquisition cycle time, maintain the public access catalog, and provide search and retrieval of internal and external databases.

The Decision Support system provides tools for the generation, organization and evaluation of discussion items. Modules assist with defining and allocating tools to the meeting steps, brainstorming, organizing materials, and evaluating alternatives. Several tools enable meeting participants to vote for a preferred alternative, rank/rate several options, or compare and select the best-suited solution based on cross impact or multiple criteria analysis.

The planned IS infrastructure will also include the development of a web-centric higher education concept that is supposed to support the country’s efforts of improving distance and flexible mode education. For this purpose, Moodle has been selected as the key component of the e-learning environment.

The infrastructure will be the first of its kind in the South Pacific region and is expected to be considered as a model for other institutions of higher education in developing countries.

Mark Taylor : tbd

[no abstract available yet]

Justin Tilton and Jim Farmer: The Commercialization of Open Source Software

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are financing new companies claiming that developing and supporting open source software can be profitable. CEOs have begun describing their initial efforts and providing financial and performance data. Successful open source companies. Sendmail and MySQL are examples.have transitioned from an open source product to dual-licensed project and services. New business models are emerging: software packaging, suite certification, ASP (application service provider) and all of the combinations. Would these business models be successful for higher education? Under what conditions? And, Should higher education be responsible for the support of higher-education unique software? This presentation analyzes the business models using data from the emerging companies. It suggests which models and under what conditions they would be successful for higher education software. Implicitly then, the conditions that can make higher education open source software sustainable and provide the funding or effort to continue development. Research so far suggests the current approach of creating a separate foundation for each software product may not achieve sustainability. There are some projects, such as the ESUP Portail project in France, that appear to be successful. Analyzing these successes provides guidance for achieving long-term sustainability. Consolidation of software into suites and user revenue or subsidy may be required for long-term success. The organizational form may be a similar to the Sakai Foundation, or may look more like the commercial Spike Source or SugarCRM models. Commercial firms that support only higher education software may be successful, but only after significant investment. Without transformation, traditional software suppliers likely will not be successful in the long term. The sustainability of open source software is a major issue for Chief Information Officers, Chief Business Officers, and other university executives. This will be one of the first presentations to provide a financial analysis and provides guidance to current open source software development projects. At the same time this presentation will suggest how software suppliers can profitably support open source software in higher education.

Simon Tindall: Redefining the IT model towards the Age of Participation

  • The Vision of Inclusion, and actually making it happen.
  • Sustainability of hardware ~ less speeds & feeds, more common sense of design
  • Sustainability of software ~ moving towards an open source world and beyond.

Prodromos Tsiavos : Open your mind: Participation, transparency and openness in the Creative Commons project in the context of Free/ Open Source principles

Objective of this paper is to explore notions of openness, transparency and participation in the Creative Commons project and juxtapose them to equivalent principles developed within the Free/ Open Source movement. This research starts with an account of the conception and evolution of the Creative Commons project indicating its links with F/OS ideals and values and its theoretical foundations in Lawrence Lessig’s work. A brief historical account of the CC project compared with that of the broader F/OS community is employed in order to indicate the participation of different groups in the formation and use of the respective licences and hence to point out fundamental features of the two projects that distinguish them from each other and justify their diverting trajectories. The next stage is to present definitions of openness, focused this time on the licences, as they have been set by various F/OS-related initiatives, including the Free Software Foundation, The Open Source Initiative, Debian legal, Open Knowledge Forum and the SPARC Open Access Group. These definitions are then compared with openness concepts encountered in the CC project. The paper argues that the differences between F/OS and CC regarding aspects of openness are products of their diverse historical roots and the participation of different actors in the formation and implementation of the respective projects. The author concludes that a common definition for openness is not necessarily feasible, neither desirable, whereas development and definition of open elements represents a more realistic and flexible approach that could provide common ground between the various groups active in this area.

Julie Walker : In Pursuit of Developing a Sustainable DSpace Open Source Community

This talk will present a case study of DSpace, an open source digital repository system. DSpace was developed collaboratively by the MIT Libraries and HP Labs for use by academic and research institutions to capture, manage, preserve, and redistribute their digital research and educational materials, in a variety of formats for a variety of purposes.  Since DSpace’s open source release in 2002, MIT Libraries and HP Labs have actively been transitioning it from a sponsored research project to a community-led software project following the economic, legal and software development frameworks of open source. With this as a goal from the inception of the project, MIT Libraries and HP Labs believed that the collective creativity and efforts of other organizations with a vested interest in the project would be a key element to its sustainability. Today, DSpace is installed at over 150 institutions located in approximately 35 countries.  An active development community has emerged that answers technical questions from users, makes bug fixes and contributes further enhancements.  A committer group, those with privileges to “commit” changes to the DSpace code base, has been formed with representatives from seven particularly active institutions. Additionally, there are commercial service providers that are building businesses in support of the DSpace community. A rapidly growing open source community such as DSpace is constantly challenged to find the resources needed to support, coordinate, and communicate its activities and advance its interests. At the 2005 DSpace User Group meeting, the community agreed that there is an emerging need for greater coordination and organization and gave its support to the formation of an ad hoc advisory board to address the issues of governance and resource planning. The goal of the governance activities is to ensure that the technology platform remains sound, protecting stakeholders’ investments. The Board will meet on March 30-31, 2006. This talk will share a case study of DSpace, from the perspective of and using a proposed framework for sustainability, including the steps that MIT Libraries and HP Labs took to transition DSpace to an open source project, the outcomes of the governance and business planning process, and some predictions about further steps the project will take to build sustainability.

Rowan Wilson: The open source licensing framework

The GNU General Public License Version 2 is the most widely used free (or open source) software licence. In late 2005 the Free Software Foundation, which created the licence, announced that after almost fifteen years in service it was to be revised. In those almost fifteen years free and open source software has entered the mainstream of the computing world. If it is to be as successful as its predecessor, the new GPL will have to please the majority of the free and open source community, while protecting the freedom of the code it covers from potential threats such as trusted computing, digital right management and web service architectures. Will they succeed, or will the whole process descend into a shameful farce of recrimination and flaming?

…and the GPL is just one of the 50-odd licences approved as open source. This talk will deconstruct the main licences and the issues of using them.

Stuart Yeates: The Linux Kernel: evolving into sustainability

How did the Linux kernel grow from a single-student fork of a pedagogical program to globe-spanning project with the backing of dozens of universities and hundreds of companies?

  • it had a clearly expressed vision
  • it had running code
  • it used open standards
  • it managed expectations
  • it was open to new ideas, new input and new people In this presentation I explained how these attributes enabled Linux to grow explosively.