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Reporter's notebook: Tidbits from the O'Reilly Open Source show

Tim O'Reilly envisions the creation of 'an Internet operating system'

By Todd R. Weiss
July 11, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - PORTLAND, Ore. -- In his keynote speech kicking off this week's fifth annual O'Reilly Open Source Convention on July 9, Tim O'Reilly, the founder and CEO of book publisher O'Reilly & Associates Inc., eloquently laid out his thoughts on why Linux and other open-source software continues to influence the evolution of IT and business computing.
"It's not just about building Linux as a product," he said, "but as a process."
"I believe that we are building an Internet operating system," O'Reilly said. "That's the challenge ahead of us. That's where we're going."
Instead of the various open-source projects being separate and distinct, the real beauty of open-source is that it's all tied together through a huge groundswell of group effort, all to benefit the overall community of users, he said. "Where are we going to end up five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now?" he asked. "We have to build out to that future."

Free lunch

Crowds of people picking up their free lunches provided by Microsoft at the convention.
Crowds of people picking up their free lunches provided by Microsoft at the convention.
Credit: Todd Weiss
When the preliminary schedule for the O'Reilly Open Source Convention was printed up several months ago, lunchtime on each day's calendar was noted as "on your own" and wasn't included in the conference fees.
But with about four weeks to go before the event got under way, a major software vendor jumped in to sponsor "brown-bag" lunches for an estimated 1,000 attendees. Only this was no ordinary software vendor, and it certainly wasn't an open-source company.
To the surprise and chagrin of many of the attendees, the free lunch was sponsored by Microsoft Corp., which has attended the convention for the past three years and provided guest speakers. But never before had it been an event sponsor.
With tables covered with brown-bag lunches filled with various choices of sandwiches, fruit, cookies and candy, large crowds of attendees had no problem looking past the small black "Microsoft" stickers on the bags or the "Microsoft -- Free, as in lunch :)" banner hanging from the ceiling as they filled their stomachs. The banner was a barely concealed takeoff on free software activist Richard Stallman's famous "free, as in free speech, not as in free beer" comment in the 1980s.
The sign idea was developed by an unofficial committee, said Jason Matusow, shared-source manager at Microsoft. "We were all just passing around ideas and thought it was lighthearted. We saw in the event program that they weren't providing lunch, so we thought it would be good to give back to the community."
Tim O'Reilly speaking Wednesday at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention
Tim O'Reilly speaking Wednesday at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention
Credit: Todd Weiss
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