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Opportunities for Open Source Appliances

Chris Dawson, CTO, Box Populi

Track: Technical
Date: Monday, July 23
Time: 4:05pm - 4:35pm
Location: Oregon Ballroom 202

Box Populi has been building and selling multimedia capture appliances based on the Ubuntu distribution for two years. We have sold our previously proprietary (though largely open) solution to colleges, universities, churches, and several Fortune 1000 companies. Throughout the process we were convinced of the benefits of offering an integrated and dedicated hardware solution, but were unsure how to build a business and protect and capitalize on our labor investment without sacrificing our principles around open source and community.

In February of 2007 we released our podcasting solution as a completely open source product under the GPL. The software runs as a LiveCD that boots up to present a simple GUI installation program. In five simple steps you can click your way to creating a dedicated podcasting appliance from any old recycled PC. This allows colleges and universities, churches, and other amateur multimedia creators to reliably create multimedia without any training or technical skills.

In this talk we'll discuss the following issues that a small hardware and software appliance company might come across when considering and implementing going from closed licensed software as a hardware solution to a completely open source model:

  • competition with larger, well-funded appliance companies;
  • open source licensing, specifically the GPL, and patents;
  • the business model for open source software, why Ubuntu makes a compelling platform on which to build;
  • the difference between open source companies and open source communities;
  • considering the market for open source.