It's 9 AM on SUNDAY morning and at this unconscionable hour I was sitting in a room with 200 people for Mark Shuttleworth's opening keynote at Ubuntu Live. This three day event runs Sunday 22 July through Tuesday 24 July, and has been organized by Canonical and O'Reilly Media.
Mark gave an excellent keynote (as he is prone to do), talking about the rise of Ubuntu over the past three years, and looking forward to the evolution of quality, engagements, and commerce over the next three years. He acknowledged his partners at Dell, Sun, Intel and Open Moko, building on the themes that the time is now to demonstrate that open source has arrived beyond the data centre, and it's time to take Linux to a much broader audience. In doing so, however, he was NOT looking at Ubuntu as simply a better desktop, but rather enabling people beyond the desktop.
As he pointed out with the Playstation 3, the future of computing does not necessarily look like a desktop and there are many interesting places where people "do computing". There is no reason why a full platform couldn't be delivered on the PS3. (I remember having this debate over the XBox inside Microsoft almost five years ago -- pointing out that they all ready had a Windows machine in the living room, it just needed a bigger disk and a wireless loop.)
Stephen O'Grady (Redmonk) was the next keynote. He built on the morning's keynote theme of collaboration, pointing out that apt-get is sufficient magic (per Clarke's Third Law on Predictions), and going on to explore the idea of distributed support. Essentially connecting the community and the software would be like app-get for people (support) and not just software.
Jeff Waugh provided the last keynote of the morning. In his inimitable style, he gave a presentation on "Fierce Freedom" and "Fierce Commerce". Jeff walked people through some of the learnings of the Ubuntu community that came from the Python, Gnome, and Debian community experiences.
He then provided a historical perspective on technology and commercial innovations enabling social change, walking us through Gutenburg's innovations around movable type, the use of paper, and the development of the printing press, on through Luther's social changes, and onto the Tyndale translation of the Bible. (There was a wonderful shot on Stephen O'Grady's behalf, suggesting Gentoo was the do-it-yourself Bible in the Linux world.)
In the end he pointed out that software freedom is not just for geeks, and that we are the next translators. ("Be the signal!")
The afternoon keynote's were kicked off with a great presentation by Eben Moglen. He discussed his satisfaction and pride in the community in the development of the GPLv3, not because it's a better license, but in the demonstration of collaborative community development in an open and democratic process that transcended the entire free software community (corporate, academic, legal, and development).
Mitch Kapor was next up. He talked about his own evolution from proprietary developer in the mid-eighties to his belief in free and open source software development. He then made a number of interesting observations about the social implications of open source. Early developers at this point (early as in high school aged people) are living in open source worlds -- it is quite possible that the socialization of open sourcce will mean the next generation of developers will believe that this is the way it's always been.
Mitch pointed out that open source software has moved from margin to mainstream in a single human generation (~20 years). Open source software is enormously empowering, especially to those in marginalized situations, and he built on the theme that it is also an amazing model for getting things done in a transparent and collaborative way. Indeed, it is a form of democratic renewal that is so badly needed socially.
Jim Zemlin (Linux Foundation) finished the afternoon's keynotes, outlining the mandate of the Linux Foundation and their commitment to helping the community.