Software Freedom Week at Trinity


The HFOSS Project capped off its Software Freedom Week activities with a public lecture on Free Your Mind: Social Change Begins with Software by Leslie Hawthorn,  program manager for Google’s Open Source Programs Office, where she’s the community manager for the Google Summer-of-Code Program. The lecture was funded by the Mellon-funded CTW computer science project and cosponsored by the Hartford Community IT Project and the TrinFo Cafe.

Photos from Leslie’s talk and other SFW activities are available on the HFOSS flickr site.   A link to a video of the talk will be posted here as soon as it is available.

Software Freedom Week was the brainchild of Prasanna Gautam (Trinity ‘11) who, together with Chris Fei (Trinity ‘10), planned and organized many of the activities.   The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the founding of the free software movement by Richard Stallman.  September 19th this year was Software Freedom Day,  a global effort to promote the use of free and open source software (FOSS).  Many groups around the world participated in the outreach effort.

In her talk, Leslie reviewed the history of the free software and open source movements and showed how the principles of these movements — internet-based collaboration and sharing, open licensing of software — have now spread to the broader culture as evidenced by sites like Wikipedia.   She also focused on the uses of FOSS for humanitarian applications, including the Sahana, OpenMRSMifos and other projects supported by the Google Summer-Of-Code project.

On Wednesday evening,  Software Freedom Week featured a Cinestudio showing of Revolution OS, the documentary that tells the story of Stallman, Linus Torvald, founder of the Linux kernel project, and the other leaders of the FOSS movement.

There was also a panel discussion during Tueday’s common hour on To Moodle or not to Moodle? That is the Question:  Open Source at Trinity. The title refers to Trinity’s experiment with the open source Moodle system as an alternative to the proprietary Blackboard system that the college currently uses.  The panel session led to  a wide ranging discussion about the potential for using open source software at Trinity — including the possibility of adopting systems like Firefox browser and OpenOffice.org.  In addition to FOSS itself, the discussion also wandered into some of the broader issues associated with the FOSS movement, including Wikipedia and the growing use of open access scientific and humanistic publishing, such as Public Library of Science and the Open Humanities Press.

SFW week activities were coordinate with several CPSC courses, including 110, 225 and FYSM 183.  In addition to participating in the activities, students from these courses helped publicize them throughout campus.

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