Thursday 12 May 2016

Government asks nine open source developers to make baby in one month

We are approaching the 30 June, and the open source community is again being asked to perform our annual miracle of delivering twelve months worth of software services in two. Yes, after living on crumbs from July to March, we're swamped with calls for help in April, and expected to deliver between May and June.
This would be all well and good if we could stock pile product, but our product is open source software, which we give away for free!
Yes, we are in the business of selling free software. And governments love building their systems on our free software. They've even written policies and guidelines on how to use it. You see, using open source reduces vendor lock in, which reduces financial and technical risk. It facilitates international collaboration, rapid development and rapid innovation, which makes it an enabler for the government's innovation agenda. And it is based on openness and transparency, a core tenement of open government initiatives.
But if we give away our software for free, what do governments want to pay us for? It is our services, our time: installing, maintaining, extending and supporting the software, and training people in its use. It is a specialised skill which takes years to develop. It is not practical to quickly ramp up and down software teams for a two month peak load. As explained by Brook's Law on software engineering, you can't use nine women to create a baby in one month. Likewise, throwing fresh developers at a delayed software project typically makes the project even later.
So as government investigate open government opportunities, I urge understanding and tackling some of the hard, root causes hindering open source adoption, such as flattening spending spikes out across the year.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Starting the build cycle for OSGeo-Live 10.0

We are starting the build cycle for version 10.0 of the OSGeo-Live DVD/USB/VM which will be released in August 2016, ready for the global FOSS4G conference in Bonn, Germany.
This release is going to be more challenging than most as we are moving to the next Long Term Release (LTS) of Ubuntu,16.04 Xenial. We expect to be asking for help to solve the multitude of dependency conflicts likely to be introduced. In particular, we expect most debian packages and bash installers will need tweaking once an alpha OSGeo-Live build is working.
Initial packaging efforts have started and the Debian packages will soon appear in UbuntuGIS Unstable (currently in Testing).
We would like to hear from anyone wishing to add new projects to OSGeo-Live, anyone wishing to extend or add translations, or anyone who has ideas on how we should shape the upcoming release.

Key Milestones
23 May 2016 All new applications installed, most old applications updated
13 Jun 2016 Feature Freeze (all apps updated)
20 Jun 2016 User Acceptance Test (all apps installed and working)
01 Aug 2016 Final ISO sent to printers
... full schedule

About OSGeo-Live
OSGeo-live is a Lubuntu based distribution of Geospatial Open Source Software, available via a Live DVD, Virtual Machine and USB. You can use OSGeo-Live to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Visualising the size and value of Linux

I find it easier to appreciate the size and value of software by comparing to big physical things.
Linux, which I could copy and give to you for free, represents more human effort than world's most expensive Cruise Ship, the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In fact you could buy two of each.
In 2001 David Wheeler calculated Linux to have 30 million lines of code, would have taken 8,000 person years to create, and cost over a giga-buck ($1 billion). By 2015 this estimate was updated to $5 billion.
GNU/Linux is comparable in size and functionality to Microsoft Windows, and it is worth observing that Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, is now the richest man in the world.

Raw Numbers:

Big Thing
Equivalent 2015
$USD Cost
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Opera House
$AUD 102,000,000
Most Expensive Cruise Ship
$USD 1,200,000,000

$USD 5,000,000,000