I've gotten behind in blogging the past two weeks, due to travel and other writing chores. One of the news items I should have commented on earlier was the Linux Foundation's announcement last week that it has established a travel fund for open source developers.
The idea behind the fund is that while open source software is created globally and virtually, there's just no substitute sometimes for face-to-face collaboration. Of course, many of the events where this occurs are global as well, and therefore liberally spread about the world's landscape. While travel to key gatherings may be feasible for those with corporate support, some of the real forces behind important open source projects don't have the wherewithal to contribute to, or simply enjoy, the process in this fashion. That's where the travel fund comes in.
The Linux Foundation is a natural place to provide this type of support, given its mission, which is to promote, protect and standardize Linux by "providing unified resources and services needed for open source to successfully compete with closed platforms." One good use for the substantial dues that for-profit members contribute is to subsidize the participation of those who contribute in non-monetary ways. That's what the "unified resources" bit is all about. Another bit is providing some of the key events that developers can attend to advance the common cause.
The first such conference will be an invitation-only meeting to be held on June 13-15 at Google's Mountainview Campus in the Bay Area. That event is intended to:
…bring together the brightest minds in the Linux ecosystem to discuss where Linux is, where it needs to go and how we can all help get it there. We’re combining LF workgroup meetings, LSB face-to-face meetings, and the advisory councils (user, vendor, developer) to create one uber-conference. Breakout sessions should contain all the domain expertise to make a difference in the advancement of the Linux platform. If you want to make an impact on the platform and meet with senior Linux technical and business representatives in one place, this is your event. The LF Collaboration Summit will be open to LF members and to key senior participants in the Linux ecosystem.
The details, as well as an application form, are here. The two announcements connect in that this is one of the events that the travel fund is intended to serve (others include LF’s Japan Symposia, the Kernel Summit, Ottawa Linux Symposium, Linux.conf.au, desktop conferences such as GUADEC and aKademy, and other technical conferences "where true collaboration takes place.").
For flavor, here are the first two community members to receive travel stipends, and the events they’ll be attending: Ed Trager, maintainer for Unifont.org, which provides information about Unicode fonts, Unicode-enabled software, internationalization, and Unicode usability issues on free/libre/open source (FLOSS) operating systems, will attend the Text Layout Summit at aKademy. The second is Jeff Waugh, a founding member of Canonical and a key GNOME community developer, who will be attending the upcoming Collaboration Summit in June.
We’re in the process of finalizing speakers and panels for the Collaboration Summit now, but confirmed speakers include Linux kernel maintainer Andrew Morton, Ubuntu Project founder Mark Shuttleworth, Google Open Source Program Manager Chris diBona and Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. Karen Copenhaver and I are in the process of pulling together a panel of experts to provide an update on legal matters, on which more soon.
Oh – and in case you’re wondering, you don’t actually have to wear the T-shirt. You might want to, though, as only OSS honchos need apply.
The complete text of the Travel Fund press release is below, and if you haven’t been there before, check out the Foundation’s News page here, and Events page here for further news on the Collaboration Summit and other updates from the Foundation.
Linux Foundation Announces Open Source Developer Travel Fund
Funds will allow community’s elite developers to attend technical conferences for collaboration; two grants already awarded
SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2007 — The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced the formation of the LF Community Developer Travel Fund. This project stems from the recent formation of The Linux Foundation and its commitment to driving technical collaboration and support for the open source development community. The new initiative will provide funding to community developers to attend technical conferences, such as the upcoming Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, where meaningful technical collaboration and development takes place. Community developers can apply at http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Travelfund.
It is vitally important for community developers to attend technical conferences to enable face-to-face collaboration. While the open source community was built from online participation, there is still no substitute for face-to-face meetings, especially when planning or driving consensus. In fact, many of the important technical breakthroughs in open source history occurred during these conferences. Many open source developers, however, do not have access to funds to pay for travel to attend these conferences. The Linux Foundation has created the Community Developer Travel Fund for these developers to accelerate technical problem solving and collaboration in the open source community.
Sponsorships are open to elite community developers with a proven track record of open source development achievement and who don’t otherwise have access to funding for attending technical events. During the application process, applicants will need to point to their development achievements in key upstream Linux projects. Conferences covered by this fund include the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summits held three times a year, the LF’s Japan Symposia, the Kernel Summit, Ottawa Linux Symposium, Linux.conf.au, desktop conferences such as GUADEC and aKademy, and other technical conferences where true collaboration takes place. The Travel Fund does not offer sponsorships to trade shows or non-technical conferences.
The first Travel Fund recipients are Ed Trager, maintainer for Unifont.org, which provides information about Unicode fonts, Unicode-enabled software, internationalization, and Unicode usability issues on free/libre/open source (FLOSS) operating systems, and Jeff Waugh, a founding member of Canonical and a key GNOME community developer. Trager will travel to and attend the Text Layout Summit at aKademy with his LF grant. Waugh’s grant will be applied to his expenses for attending the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit June 13 – 15, 2007.
“This fund is for rock stars of the open source world,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “This is not for someone who lurks on a mailing list. Getting a grant from this fund will be an honor reserved for those developers contributing the most to Linux and who have the greatest need for travel funds. The Linux Foundation wants to directly support these important developers. We think the Travel Fund is a good start to that support.”
The LF staff will review applications for the fund and make determinations with feedback from the Technical Advisory Board, technical workgroups and others as needed. Sponsorship awardees will also receive a t-shirt from the LF commemorating the grant.
To apply for a sponsorship please visit http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Travelfund. The Linux Foundation urges potential applicants to read the criteria closely before submitting an application. Only elite open source developers attending technical conferences will be eligible for a sponsorship.
How about moving the venue a few (hundred) miles north to Vancouver or over to Toronto. Many developers, especially those working with encryption or security, find it far to dangerous to try entering the US. Even before the current regime started "security theatre" in all the airports, you had occasional harsh lessons such as Dmitry Sklyarov met with.
Moving north to a safer country or even south to a politically safer zone would still be within reach of the remaining US-based developers and would be able to provide the level of assurance for global developers that they can safely visit and safely return home again.
Moving to a safer country might also be a way of reducing the overall travel expenses.