An Invitation to Attend The 4th O'Reilly Open Source Convention

As we write this letter, there are signs that the economic recession has passed and that businesses are cautiously optimistic about the future. Open source developers have a lot to be optimistic about, too. New projects, from Perl 6 to Mono, are grappling with network-centric computing. Linux and Mac OS X are putting open source software on millions of new desktops. Emerging fields such as bioinformatics are encouraging us to learn new skills. And it's all making programming and using computers exciting again.

"It's a rare thing to attend a computing conference where something actually happens -- where, instead of people waxing profound on the possibilities of this technology or that (in between coffee breaks), you get a surprise announcement that's certain to shake up the world as we know it. But there's a sense here this week that this conference -- the O'Reilly Open Source Convention -- might be one of those that amounts to something: Minds will be changed. People will see the light. The world will be better after this."

-- Farhad Manjoo,
Wired, July 25, 2001,
talking about OSCON 2001.

In the spirit of cautious optimism, this year's Open Source Convention focuses on doing more with less. In lean times the hardiest things flourish, and open source software has certainly flourished in the last year. We're celebrating its success, showcasing diverse applications from biotech to gold mining, and taking you on a journey from the frontiers of research to the heart of the enterprise.

Open source software is more relevant today than ever. It continues to have a huge impact in early stage markets precisely because you don't need someone else's permission to get started. For example, in the early 1990s, scientific researchers such as Lincoln Stein began writing Perl programs and exchanging data with Apache, creating the tools and techniques that made today's bioinformatics industry possible. And the idealism that also seems to be part and parcel of the open source culture continues to shape industry in unexpected ways. Consider James Kent's gene assembler – the program that ensured that the human gene sequence would remain in the public domain. Kent wrote the program because of his concern that "the genome would be locked up by commercial patents if an assembled sequence was not made publicly available for all scientists to work on."

During the recession of 2001, open source also broke through as a clear choice for the enterprise. The need to cut costs, along with the backing of large companies like IBM, HP, and Intel, made Linux a first tier option for large-scale applications, while Apache, MySQL, sendmail, Perl, and Python continue to gain respect and traction. What's more, Apple's OS X, with its BSD core, finally gives open source a completely viable desktop option, with support for the Microsoft Office suite along with all of the classic Unix/Linux development tools.

At this year’s OSCON, in addition to The Perl Conference 6, The PHP Conference 2, and XTech2002 XML Conference, we have tracks focusing on Apache, Python, open source databases, and Java. The Operating Systems and Applications track--new this year -- covers the latest and greatest in embedded and desktop open source operating systems and applications for BSD, Linux, and OS X.

See you in San Diego,

Nathan Torkington
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc,
OSCON Program Chair

Tim O'Reilly
Founder & President
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.