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by Nate Aune
In this talk, I will share my experience growing a open source consulting company from a one man freelance operation to a global corporation employing 20 persons in 8 countries. We will explore some of the challenges that a business owner will face, and the unique issues that a company building open source software must embrace.
What does it take to be an open source consultant? It's usually not enough to be a good developer. You need to know about the business side of software development, including sales and marketing and legal and accounting. Fret not - just like programming, these are skills that can be learned!
How do you find work and how do you determine how much to charge? We will discuss the merits of time and materials billing, optional scope contracts vs. fixed bid contracts. Blogging, speaking at local tech events and search engine optimization are some inventive ways to attract new customers.
How do you compete against commercial proprietary software vendors and dispel the myths around open source. What are the unique selling points that can help catapult your company to the shortlist? Positioning your services and finding a niche are essential to differentiate yourself from other competing vendors.
How do you structure contracts to allow for the software you create to be GPL licensed? The legal issues cannot be overlooked if you want to ensure your software remains open source. Education of your customers is important to get them to think of software not as an asset, but a liability.
How do you recruit and retain talented developers? The transparency of open source software provides you with developer footprints that reveal far more about a developer's technical skills than any resume. I have recruited some of my best developers solely by reading their code and their blog posts to get a sense for how they communicate.
Open source software is often developed by distributed teams, in which the leaders and developers are geographically dispersed. Can this team dynamic work for consulting projects? We've learned through many failed attempts what works and what doesn't, navigating timezones, multi-currency payments, remote pair programming, and global conference calls.
How can you be a profitable company and still be a good citizen of the open source community? Where do you draw the line between paid customer work and unpaid community work? If structured properly, the community work can complement the billable work and vice versa.
by Michel Pelletier
Idealist.org was started in 1995 by Ami Dar as a simple one-page website that cataloged links to other non-profits. In the last 14 years, the site has gone from that simple list of links to a highly scalable dynamic website with over a million users, providing them and their communities with a forum to connect and communicate. Many thousands of people over the years have gotten their jobs or volunteer opportunities through Idealist, and soon we will be rolling out the third generation of our site to provide even more power to people interested in changing the world into a better place. Our talk will present a short history of the open source technology that drives our site, what our future plans are, and how we are releasing several of our Python web technologies as open source products for other members of our community to use and share.
by David Mandel
There are Open Source projects to develop software for all sorts of specialized uses. Indeed, there are complete Linux distributions for K-12 schools, for libraries, for geographers, for musicians, and so on. But, there is very little available specifically for small farmers in the Open Source world.
In this talk, we will discuss the reasons for this and ways of changing the situation.
In particular, we will discuss:
* The differing needs of different types of farms
* Similarities between farm culture and Open Source culture
* Software requirements: What applications do farmers need?
* What applications already exist?
* What applications need to be created?
* How should software by packaged for farmers?
The author will discuss these and other issues from the point of view of someone who grew up on a small traditional farm, and spent his career in Open Source Software, and is now farming again.
17th–19th June 2009