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Open Source and The Geographic Divide – Europe and North America

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Despite some logistical challenges and a very diverse agenda, the second edition of the OWF was a tremendous success, I believe most of the 1600 attendees came away very happy. This year the Open Source Think Tank was a single track within the OWF held on October 1 and 71 people participated in the think tank brainstorm session, more than 80% of them had not participated in a previous Think Tank event.

Free vs. open source, the debate is alive and well, although certainly of a different character, and more subtle than the in the past. During the event, and the five days I spent in Paris, I had numerous opportunities to engage in group and individual conversations, mostly centered on the commercial aspects of free and/or open source software. I’ll use the term FOSS to cover both sets of terminology. My general observations on how the various geographies use the terminology consists of North Americans almost exclusively use the term “open source” which has more of a connotation of commercial software and Europeans mostly, but not entirely, use “free software” as their term of choice.

In Europe the commercial ecosystem breaks down into non-public sector end users, the public sector, large and small SIs, large ISVs, and an embryonic group of open source ISVs. Clearly there seems to be genuine enthusiasm throughout all sectors, segments and hierarchies to further adopt FOSS but what came through frequently in my conversations was a lack of commonality in understanding of the basic FOSS value proposition.

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