[Announce] Linux Australia Committee News - 200408

Pia Smith pia at linux.org.au
Sun Sep 12 21:23:25 UTC 2004

Hi all,

The Linux Australia comittee has been busy busy busy this month. Last
year we did a 6 month status report from Linux Australia and we will be
doing the same thing very soon, but we didn't want to delay the monthly
news any longer than usual :) For anyone not already on the linux-aus
mailing list, it is where most of these type of discussions are taking
place, so join up if you want to participate :)
http://lists.linux.org.au If anyone else wants me to start forwarding
this directly to their LUGs mailing list, please let me know.

Half-year Report
Due out very soon! In the same thread as the last report it is meant to
give an overall status of LA and what is happening. Watch this space :)
We'll put it up on the new website when it goes live, which is within
the week.

We have really come a long way. At least in part due to our efforts on
the FTA, Open Source has become an election issue. If someone had told
me 6 months ago that this might be the case I would have disagreed but
quite frankly this is the case. I attended one of the AUUG conference
days down in Melbourne, and between AGIMO and a representative of the
Minister of ICT (Helen Coonan) there was a very supportive stance on
open source. AGIMO will be coming out with a Open Source sourcing guide
in the next 3-4 months (hopefully) which should be very interesting to a
lot of people. Back to the FTA, although there have been some
interesting exceptions made (such as for DVD software), the deal is all
but done, and we now have some work to do :) We as a community need to
ensure that as this is translated into legislation we are not
compromising on any of the freedoms we currently enjoy. The moment we
compromise, we are in trouble. Assisting the government in understanding
the issues has been an excellent exercise as now we have a lot better
educated legislators in this area, and some good cred. In the area of
patents the idea of a "patent watch" type project has come up a few
times, and it sounds like a great idea. We need to ensure this is
covered from several aspects, not least of all from a real quantative
analysis. We can argue how patents are bad for innovation, are
anti-competitive, and how patents lodged has no real relation to
innovation in the industry all we like (and these arguments need to be
made), but at the end of 2 years or so, it would be a huge impact to be
able to say here are X 100's or 1000's of trivial patents we proved
prior art on, and here is the estimated damage they would have caused.
More information on this will be in the half year report. A big thanks
and slap on the back to Rusty who has put oodles of time and effort into


* Computerbank line of credit grant ($15,000) - The computerbank grant
is still being processed, as there have been some significant
communication issues. We are working through these and many of the terms
of agreement may have to be renegotiated. We will keep linux-aus
informed as soon as all the information is clear. LA is very supportive
of Computerbank, and always has been. We are looking forward to helping
out and seeing the Sydney work for the dole project get going again :)

* Sara Kaan (Syd) put in a grant to run a stall at a large education
expo for Linux. The details of this will be posted after the committee
has discussed it on Monday, but it looks like an excellent project. Rock
on Sara!

* Andrew Chalmers (Melb) put in a grant to press some CD's for Free
Software Day, and the committee in theory agreed, apart from the desire
from Andrew to hand out these CD's in front on the Microsoft office,
which we thought was inappropriate. After working through this, we
agreed to put the offer to linux-aus but unfortunately had some
communication issues and so this didn't go ahead. Good work anyway from
Andrew and others in Melbourne. Let us know if there is any other
projects we can help with :)

We had the normal Ghosts meeting, which is where we get some previous
LCA (http://linux.conf.au) organisers to meet up with the currently LCA
organisers (Canberra) to brainstorm, transfer knowledge, rile up the
organisers and of course drink beer. It was a great weekend, and
everyone put a lot of hours in. Many thanks to Steve Hanley and all the
LCA2005 gang, to the previous organisers who attended and to the entire
LA committee for all your efforts :) Incidently, Canberra looks like it
is going to ROCK! But you knew I was going to say that ;) Photos can be
found at http://www.michaeldavies.org/gallery/CanberraTrip
along with a second writeup on the trip by Michael Davies at

LA face to face meeting
The LA ctte took advantage of the ghosts meeting being relatively close
to everyone geographically and the fact that 4 of the LA members had to
be there anyway to have a face to face meeting. It ended being
relatively rushed, but we got through a lot including some new plans to
increase LUG communication and participation, to continue the FTA
research and planning, to try increase communication within the OS
sector in Australia amd some other interesting things. Thanks to
everyone for your time, especially after all the time already put into
the Ghosts meeting.

The website is almost ready to go live, as in, in the next few days. For
a sneak preview see http://linux.org.au/~pia/website/. Many thanks to
Janet Reid for her icons, Stewart for his excellent work (and for making
sure all my html is compliant ;), Michael Davies and Jeff Waugh for
their design help, and everyone else who has lent a hand.

Open Source Forum
We am very interested in running an Open Source Forum, in order to
increase internal commnication if you like between businesses and
organisations to do with open source in Australia. The idea is to create
the first ever mechanism in Australia where people can actually have the
discussions about issues and opportunities in the open source space for
Australian businesses. The FTA saga highlighted a few things for me
personally, specifically that the ICT sector in Australia is different
from the Australian ICT sector. Many businesses rely on large bodies
they are part of to look after their interests, not necessarily having
the resources to put into research of issues and opportunities
themselves. Unfortunately sometimes there is conflict of interests and
the small businesses are not always looked after. I hope this forum can
be a regular occurance (perhaps bimonthly) where we have a topic, and
invite 2-4 speakers from opposite points of view. Participants get to
see the issue from various angles, and from where their peers see it.
After the short talks, the microphone goes to the floor for opinions,
questions. An open forum. They get to participate equally in the
discussions and learn from each other rather than being told continually
what is good for them. This is not the formal announcement of such an
event, but rather a call out to the community to give some feedback on
the idea. Please contact me on pia at linux.org.au with any suggestions.
The first one will probably be scheduled for Sydney but there is no
reason why it can't roam.

Patents watch
The idea has come up to try interfacing the community with the
Australian patents system. We have 3 months on each patent lodged where
we can prove prior art before that patents is locked in. By finding an
easy way to find and filter what may be relevant to us, we are hoping to
over a period of time come up with some unmistakeable and quantifiable
arguments against the patents system we have now locked ourselves into.
The initial arguments and such, along with education is an important
first step, but we also need cold hard figures to win this. More to come
on linux-aus.

These have been pressed and are being sent out. Many thanks to Ryan
Verner and Jason King particularly, along with the many other volunteers
in Adelaide who donated their time and efforts into getting these out
the door. The DVD data can be found at
http://www.linux.org.au/conf/2004/videos/ and the CD can be found at
Rock on everyone! Also thankyou to Andrew Braund, Peter Gossner, Ben
Wannan, Ian Loxton and Jan Schmidt for their video footage.

LUG Communication strategy
The LA ctte has committed to better communication with the LUGs, this
was one of the main topics in our recent face to face meeting. More
information will be coming on this in the half year report, as we really
want to improve in this area. Information is also up on the devel
website if you are interested :)

Cheers all, and many thanks to everyone participating,

Pia Smith <pia at linux.org.au>
Linux Australia

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