OSS University

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
Socrates

Where is the ubiquitous source of OSS information to help newbies light their fire?

  • Books? Whilst I have seen many fantastic OSS books that fill many hundreds of pages, there is still so much left to be told. Most of these books cover technologies that will soon enough be superseded by the next brilliant technique
  • WWW? There is so much valuable content on the web that I could spend weeks upon weeks hopping from link to link to link. To date, I haven’t found a single repository for all this information, nor have I found a single location to direct colleagues or customers to as being the ultimate OSS starting point
  • Standards Bodies? Produce some brilliant content from an impressive array of corporations involved in the OSS community. Standards bodies by nature need to produce content that is generic enough to be used by all, but often not specific enough to show how something should be done. Also by nature they can only continue to operate if they charge significant amounts for their valuable content, a possible barrier to many new starters
  • PassionateAboutOSS.com? I aim to provide insights and tools to help organisations to implement their OSS solution and provide general thoughts about the use of OSS. This is but one small niche and there is so much more, particularly in the specifics of technologies (eg interfaces, protocols, proprietary data, etc). I cover this on an as-needed basis for customers but is outside the coverage of this site
  • OSS Vendors? Seem to publish a minimal amount of content, enough to act as a teaser to the capabilities of their products. Perhaps it is the pure breadth of the subject matter that makes OSS vendors shrink away from being the fount of all knowledge (until signing an implementation contract with them at least 🙂 ). More likely it is because their intellectual property is so tightly bound into their product functionality that it would be crazy to make it freely available for their competitors to analyse (or would it??)

In my job as a consultant, I’ve often been forced to research very detailed information about specific technologies. Let’s take networking technologies as an example; Some vendors invest huge amounts of time in producing outstandingly detailed information, whilst others are reknowned for providing nothing more than 2-3 page product brochures. Some vendors provide training courses that have produced a vast body of experts that are then advocates that can espouse their products. Other vendors provide training as an afterthought.

Where I’ve been required to submit quotes and then implement projects, it has invariably been using the products that have the most information readily available. The path of least resistance perhaps?

This opportunity has been grasped within the network product vendor community. It has yet to be grasped by any OSS vendors as far as I’m aware of. There are so many more OSS experts required and so much still to be learnt.

You may also ask what I’m doing about it. Not as much as I’d like, but it starts with PassionateAboutOSS.com and the references that I will progressively add to this site. Other expert contributions to this forum are also welcome of course

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