The awards ceremony for the Linux and Open Source Awards 2005 was last night. I was fortunate enough to be sitting between someone from Powys Council, who have implemented a Free software desktop for their schools, and were up for the best Public Sector Implementation award, and Daniel James, the [Update: deputy] editor of Linux User and Developer, the award’s organisers. We had some very interesting conversations about how we can encourage kids to be interested in computers as tools they can make do what they want, rather than glitzy televisions where they just sit and consume. Free software is the way forward.
Across the table was a guy from Nokia, who had a pre-release Nokia 770 (warning – Flash) he was letting us play with. It is very cool – it’s Linux-based, and has both WiFi and Bluetooth but not GSM, so it’s a mobile phone accessory rather than a complete phone in itself. The screen is very high res, and there’s a hardware Zoom button so you can increase the page size if it strains your eyes. I got into the hotel’s WiFi but they had a captive portal, so I dialled out through his phone instead to look up the latest Firefox download number. 95 million and counting :-) On the show floor, I also met a company, called “OpenHand” I think, who did a lot of the work on the software.
Also on the table was Rasmus Lerdorf, the inventor of PHP. He was very insistent that PHP was really a tool for his own use, and so features tended to appear when he or another core group member needed them rather than when anyone else did. Which is fair enough :-) At one point, the conversation turned to PHP 5 adoption rates, and Rasmus said it was like Apache – PHP 4 worked so well that it took people time to upgrade.
Oh, and SpreadFirefox won Best Marketing Project! Although I collected the award (amid pounding music), I should point out that it was actually won by everyone who has encouraged anyone to install Firefox on their machines – the thousands and thousands of people around the world who have fallen in love with our software, and care enough about friends, colleagues and workmates that they want to set them free from the scourge of viruses, popups and spyware. This one’s for you :-)
I would put up a photo of the award but I accidentally left it at the hotel :-( I’ll pick it up on Saturday and post a photo then. Oops…