FOSSDEM, Talk, “All the World’s a Stage and FOSS is playing many parts”, Digital

The FOSS Communities have been debating how to manage security, sustainability and funding of FOSS for years but today a global and political lens is being shone on them.

Commercial debates over licensing and revenue models around FOSS based businesses peak in 2021 with the Elastic transition away from FOSS to an SSPL licence and the fallout and debate from this.

The European Commission’s Digital Decade is clear that its basis will be a FOSS infrastructure and Europe has been passing laws and regulations to support its open first approach, as it seeks digital and data sovereignty.

The inevitable success and adoption of FOSS in our national infrastructures and recent security issues have the minds of Governments focused on FOSSS, to the extent that the White House plans a meeting to discuss FOSS security in January having issued an ordinance recommending the use of Software Bill of Materials.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has shared a 5 year software plan saying “software defines the world of the future, open source determines the future of software,” as it plans global collaboration to improve its open source activities.

In the UK, hosting COP26 shone a spotlight on energy and the UK Energy Sector Digitalisation Task force which has already suggested Open Data, will consider the use of open source software by default in its recommendations to Government in January. Whilst the NHS’ data strategy issued in 2021 requires that open source software should be the default in healthcare.

This talk will stitch together these global threads, laws and policies to take a holistic view on the insurmountable success of FOSS in the last decade and the inevitable challenges being faced as a consequence of that success and the very nature and heart of FOSS in the Commons.

Sharing some policy suggestions and thoughts this talk will consider whether it may be time to shift the landscape. Is 2022 the year to recognise the need for FOSS to be characterised as a public good and to secure the interaction not only of business but of the State in funding and securing FOSS in the long term? How can this ensure sustainability of FOSS through its maintenance and sustainability of the planet by elevating the role of FOSS within environmental sustainability?

With a deep consideration of recent economic and policy discussions this keynote talk with pull many strands together to start 2022 with a focus on FOSS, funding and a secure and sustainable future.