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I'm coming back from FOSDEM and it has been again an amazing year. We have been super happy to be able to run a dev room about "Collaborative Information and Content Management Applications" which has been a success  (videos are available here). We also have been able to meet XWiki and CryptPad users and give out stickers (all of them are gone and we need to reorder some for our next events). I've been happy to see that the "privacy" subject becomes more and more understood and important to the users.

While I have not been able to attend of lot of talks, beyond the dev room, I've been able to watch the videos. I use the occasion to give KUDOS to the FOSDEM video team. Their video recording system is amazing and videos are getting online with checks from speakers in a record time.

I'll start by recommending my talks, as well as other XWikiers:

Now what I want most to talk about is the talks about Open Source financing and the state of Open Source, as I believe that Libre and Open Source Software is having some challenges that are from my point of view growing and related to the state of the whole software industry.

I'm very happy that there are more talks that bring the subject of financing on the table, as I believe we have too much ignored the "business" aspects as "Open Source" was taking over the world through mostly the first Open Source Professional companies, Software Services companies and Cloud providers.

However while the open code was spreading everywhere, we have not fully grasped where it was coming from and how it has been financed, and today as we see less VC investment in professional open source companies, as RedHat is being acquired by IBM, and as the leading Cloud Providers are eating the business of almost all the other actors and as most future business are being developed as Cloud Services, we are starting to see a fundamental change. 

Open code continues to grow of course, especially all the infrastructure and libraries which are mostly sponsored by the cloud or SaaS actors. However there are already tentions in this area as is shown by the debates about the SSPL/Commons clause licences. The talk by Michael Cheng (working as a lawyer at Facebook, talking on his own behalf) SSPL, Confluent License, CockroachDB License and the Commons Clause - Is it freedom to choose to be less free?  when into good detail about this. It was a very good talk. Now the one thing I believe it failed to talk about was about the future of infrastructure Open Source code given the change in the market forces. While I agree that changing the licence and creating licences that effectively are trying to recreate the "proprietary software model" is not a good thing for Open Source, on the other side, if it becomes impossible to build a significant infrastructure Open Source solution as a startup, investment in Open Source code will either reduce or be only coming from the big cloud and SaaS actors and we should not expect a high percentage of Open Source investment relative to the business of these cloud providers. In the end a massive challenge for Open Source is that it represents only a small fraction of the global technology investment in the world.

Another set of talks actually discussed about direct financing of libre and open source software. I'm really happy that these talks are getting more and more common and that new solutions are emerging to help finance the developers:

  • the NGI lightning talk

 

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