LINUXWORLD SF - Open source call to arms

There is a growing "read-write" culture in which content is modified and shared via the internet, according to a Stanford Law professor speaking at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo

A call to arms for the open source community

The LinuxWorld Conference & Expo kicked off Tuesday with a keynote by Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig who told a packed audience that the open source community's work doesn't end with an operating system and applications.

The battle now is in creating free culture in which the creation and consumption of content is not hindered by stringent copyright laws, Lessig said. He said that while large media and network companies such as Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Comcast may be controlling how people consume content there is a growing "read-write" culture in which content is modified and shared via the Internet.

He used a series of videos that combine animation, news or movie footage with music to show how people are re-using content to create political messages or humor. The trouble is that copyright regulations turn such creations into acts of piracy, he said.

The open source community needs to take its free software philosophy into the realm of content to help foster a more free-flowing environment for innovation, he said. He urged the use of the Creative Commons license, which, instead of reserving "all" rights, reserves "some," allowing for content to be re-used and modified, similar to how software code is used and shared in the open source community.

The task isn't easy, but neither was the movement to create Linux a decade ago, Lessig said. Ten years ago, as Microsoft's profile grew, "it was impossible to imagine an operating system developing without commercial, proprietary control," Lessig said. "It was not only possible, but the result was a superior operating system that emerged without proprietary control."

"You were the crazies who thought it was possible," he told the packed audience. "Now people like me need to be educated by crazy people like you."

Lawyers, legislators and lobbyists just "don't get it" today: "The read-write Internet will be bigger and more valuable for economic growth," he said.

Opening up virtualization

Virtualization has been rising on the list of priorities for IT managers and, similarly, it's gaining a higher profile in the open source community. This week's LinuxWorld Conference & Expo features a handful of sessions devoted to virtualization. Companies such as AMD, IBM, VMware and Xen are talking up the technology.

While it didn't announce the release of its latest Opteron chip at the show, AMD was there to highlight how the new processor -- which includes virtualization technology built into the hardware -- will boost the capabilities of the Xen open source virtualization technology.

With hardware-assisted virtualization, operating systems running in a Xen-enabled virtual environment will not have to be modified. Without hardware enablement, Xen works by using a modified Linux kernel.

"What we're offering the open source community is the ability to play in the same league with industry leader VMware down the road," says Margaret Lewis, director of commercial ISV marketing at AMD.

Intel's latest processors also include virtualization technology built into the silicon.

Furthering the effort to make virtualization more friendly, VMware executives said that they, IBM and Xen have agreed to work together on a Virtual Machine Interface (VMI) that will create a standard way that hypervisors interact with an operating system, letting virtual machines run on VMware, Xen or other platforms.

"It makes things easier to manage," says Jack Lo, senior director of research and development at VMware.

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