Open source developer wins government grant

Open Source Victoria (OSV) will attempt to harness support from high school enthusiasts and take its message to all corners of the state after winning a A$50,000 (US$35,800) grant under MultiMedia Victoria's Next Wave program.

Having won a highly competitive process that began "about one year ago", OSV spokesperson and open source evangelist, Con Zymaris said the lobby group-cum-business consortium would make "good use" of the money.

Zymaris said there were "about six or seven projects" in the pipeline that would all benefit from the cash injection from the Victorian State Government's grant program. They included:

— an application development competition for Victorian school students.

— publishing and circulating a fully functional CD-based Linux distribution to 5,000 small business, corporate and government decision makers throughout the state.

— the production and distribution of a series of white papers outlining the benefits, advantages and business opportunities of open source computing.

— a joint project with education administrators to demonstrate open source code to teachers and students.

— a travelling road show taking the open source message to major urban and regional centres.

Setting up a centralised resource and point of call for all things relating to open source computing.

"Most of these projects were already underway in some form or manner but the grant will help us produce a much better outcome at a much faster rate than would have been otherwise possible," Zymaris said. "We are used to running lean and mean and can make A$50,000 stretch a long way."

He said that OSV had already done about one-third of the work relating to these projects with the help of volunteer labour from OSV members. There were now 90 organisations or consultants that were members of OSV after just over a year of collaboration.

"With the competition, students will be able to enter any application they want so long as it is fully or partially based around readily available open source code," he said. "We are trying to build support for the open source movement from the ground up.

"With the CD, people will be able to insert it into their PC and run a Linux operating system entirely from the disk. They will be able to sample Linux without affecting their normal OS in any way."

Zymaris said it was crucial for OSV to move on from making "airy fairy" statements about the benefits of open source and get to some hard research and demonstrable facts.

He said that there would as many as six white papers written outlining the advantages of Linux.

"In the end this is all about business for OSV members," he said. "The main aim for them is to make a buck. That is why we are all putting in an enormous effort to further the cause of open source.

"We need to build some concrete steps showing the business benefits to users and resellers of buying and selling solutions based on — or including — open source codes. That is what the white papers are for."

Locations and dates for the road show had yet to be finalized, Zymaris said.

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