[svlug] a course on managing open source...

Richard Sharpe rsharpe at richardsharpe.com
Wed Jul 13 23:38:00 PDT 2005

On Wed, 13 Jul 2005, Sameer Verma wrote:

> Dear SVLUG members,
> I will be teaching a course titled "Managing Open Source" at San
> Francisco State University. This course is being offered as a
> graduate/undergraduate cross-listed course by the Information Systems
> department in the College of Business. As the title suggests, the focus
> of the course will be business-oriented for most part. A proposed course
> outline is listed at the end of this e-mail.

This seems to me to be a good thing, because I have seen far too many
cases of people in the business end of the company who do not understand
the range of open source licences and who insist on frothing at the mouth
about the "viral" natrure of open source software, when a little clear
thinking would reveal that there nothing to be afraid of and that you have
to understand your risks and obligations.

> I would really appreciate feedback from the community.
> 1) What would you like to see in a course like this?

An overview of common software structures/architectures so that any
discussion of licences can be done in perspective.

A discussion of the more common open source licence type with an
indication of what they allow you to do and what they bind you to, ie what
your obligations are.

A discussion on how to deal ethically with the open source community.

Pointing out that using GNU tools inhouse does not oblige you to make your
source available if it is all developed by you, and pointing out where in
the product development process open source might be used ...

> 2) What is the most critically needed area of education that an analyst
> or manager should get with respect to open source?
> 3) Would you expect a course like this to be a "Get the Facts" type or
> more along the lines of a "We report, you decide" ?
> 4) What kind of activities would be more suitable: Hands-on, exams,
> papers, presentations?

Perhaps they should do a business case for a new software product where
OSS is used both in the development of the product (ie as support tools)
and where OSS of some sort is actually part of the shipped product.

> 5) Do you expect such a course to fly in a business curriculum?

I think so because I see lots of interest in using OSS but lots of

I wish you luck on this.

Richard Sharpe, rsharpe[at]richardsharpe.com, rsharpe[at]samba.org,
sharpe[at]ethereal.com, http://www.richardsharpe.com

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