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This week's feature article for LWN.net: SEUL/edu: An International Focus on Linux in Education takes a look at a multi-faceted project supporting students, developers and educators interested in using Linux.
Cosource.com and the sourceXchange both officially launched this week. Both sites seek to encourage the development of free software by bringing together developers and sponsors who are willing to pay to get a job done. While their goals are quite similar, their approaches are different. If the model as a whole is successful, there is probably room for both of these players.
Cosource.com looks somewhat like the "entry level" contestant. Development projects are requested by any interested party - the person making the request need not commit any funds toward the implementation. Developers make proposals, and anybody who feels like contributing toward the development can commit money in pieces as small as $10. The result is a great many requests, a small number of actual developments, and generally small amounts of money on offer - the largest sum accumulated thus far is around $1300.
Cosource currently has five projects in development, including adding htDig support to kdevelop ($1290, sponsored by Lineo) and a software answering machine ($225). Five others have been completed, for a total of $1575. There are a total of 156 requests outstanding on the site.
The sourceXchange takes a more traditional and upscale approach. Projects enter the sourceXchange via an RFP from the project sponsor - the company that wishes to see the project implemented. Developers submit proposals, which go through a review process; in the end, the sponsor chooses which proposal wins, if any. The RFP's include the amount the sponsor is willing to pay; they vary from $5,000 through $20,000.
The sourceXchange claims one completed project (an Apache test suite framework), one in development (an E-Suite test suite), and eight current RFPs, sponsored by companies like Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Ricoh, and Walnut Creek.
Thus Cosource.com currently looks like a way for developers to pick up a few extra bucks from pools of interested parties on small projects, while the sourceXchange aims toward being a way for corporations to outsource development on significant, if not huge, projects. Of course, Cosource can be expected to try to raise the average price tag on the projects it manages, while the sourceXchange will certainly try to increase its number of projects. Nonetheless, the two currently appear to serve different markets, there is likely room for both.
Linux IPOs are, of course, the big theme this week. A look at this week's press page will drive home just how much attention is being drawn towards the latest public offerings. The investment world has certainly taken note of Linux.
Andover.net began public trading on December 8. The "clearing price" from its dutch auction IPO was $24, meaning that, with the bids they got, they could have sold all of the available shares at that price or higher. They chose to go with the listed maximum of $18, however; to raise the price higher would have involved delaying the IPO and putting in a new SEC filing. As of closing time on the 8th, ANDN shares were worth more than $63. Volume was over 8 million shares, meaning that each publicly-available share traded at least twice. It would appear that there was interest in this offering.
The one everybody is waiting for, however, is VA Linux Systems. The VA IPO has been repriced to $21-23, and moved forward to December 9. The general expectation seems to be that it will be one of the most spectacular IPOs of the year. Chances are, it will have happened by the time most of you read this; check the LWN daily updates page for the latest.
The Bazaar is happening in New York on December 14-16. This event is intended to be a free software developers' gathering; this emphasis is driven home by the fact that Richard Stallman is giving a keynote talk. In a world that is filling up with highly commercial, business-oriented Linux events, it is important that free software events like this continue to exist and prosper. Of course, the presence of keynote speakers like Bob Young and Michael Cowpland make it clear that the commercial world will not go unrepresented here either.
Keep your eyes out for LWN editor Liz Coolbaugh, who will be attending this event and giving her talk on Linux distributions: well-known through unknown at 9:00 AM on December 15.
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December 9, 1999