Go All-In!

C1 | Thu 24 Jan | 1:30 p.m.–2:15 p.m.

Presented by

  • Bdale Garbee

    A contributor to Free Software since 1979, Bdale's background also includes many years of hardware design, Unix internals, and embedded systems work. He is perhaps best known for his long involvement in the Debian project, where he served as an early Debian Project Leader and later as chairman of the Debian Technical Committee. Bdale retired in 2016 from a long career at HP, where he served more than a decade as HP's Open Source & Linux CTO, ending as an HPE Fellow with responsibility for articulating company open source strategy. For many years, Bdale was President of Software in the Public Interest, and a member of the board of directors of the Linux Foundation. He remains a director of the Freedombox Foundation, of LPI, and on the project evaluation committee of the Software Freedom Conservancy. He also co-founded and manages Altus Metrum, a company specializing in open hardware and open source avionics systems for the high power model rocketry hobby. Bdale is also well known for his leisure time activites, many of which he's spoken about at previous LCAs. These include ham radio, home shop machining, and electronics projects ranging from greenhouse control to building pieces of amateur satellites.


In the beginning, the motivation for developing and using Free Software centered on a shared value of enabling and maintaining end user freedom. As more and more developers joined Free and Open Source Software communities and software innovation moved largely to openly collaborative spaces, the economic benefits for companies of using FOSS technology became immense. Not surprisingly, this has led us to an era where we talk more about benefits than core FOSS values, which unfortunately can lead us to make choices that aren't good long-term bets! The immense growth and success of FOSS has led to a world in which virtually every computing device on the planet contains at least some open source component. But even today, many companies fear deeply engaging in the collaborative development model, insisting instead on licences and governance terms for the FOSS projects they interact with that allow them to be pure consumers of innovation. This talk will review the economics of collaboration, and the related essentials of FOSS project longevity, illuminating the difference between consumptive and fully engaged participation. The session will conclude with concrete suggestions on how to maximize the value of participation in FOSS for users, developers, and corporate decision makers... and why the best bet may be to go all-in!