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Date: 2005-12-21 12:28:41
ASK-OSS December 2005 Newsletter

Project News

ASK-OSS Project Launched

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Australian Service for Knowledge of Open Source Software (ASK-OSS) project. ASK-OSS provides a national focal point for advice, management, governance, storage and dissemination of open source software (OSS) for research and higher education. ASK-OSS provides unbiased, pragmatic guidance on: selection of appropriate OSS for research; choosing appropriate OSS licenses; management/governance for OSS development; and storage and community development of OSS.

The past few months have been very busy for the ASK-OSS team! Professor James Dalziel (Chief Investigator) and Ray Warouw (Team Leader) have been working on project startup. Pia Waugh has been appointed as the ASK-OSS Research Co-ordinator (P/T). Pia is involved with several Open Source initiatives both in Australia and overseas, and is a past president of Linux Australia, so she brings significant experience to the project.

The ASK-OSS Steering Committee met for the first time in December. It has a wealth of expertise in Open Source issues, and all members are enthusiastic about their role in overseeing and advising the project team.

We are currently finalising the ASK-OSS website (to be launched in January), as well as starting to collate and develop many case studies and other useful research which will all be published on the website during 2006.

Events Update

December saw a few Australian Open Source events, including the Open Source Developers Conference (http://www.osdc.com.au/), and many Open Source parties in the lead up to the summer break. January brings one of the best technical Open Source conferences in the world, linux.conf.au  (http://linux.conf.au) in Dunedin NZ.

New Information Available

This newsletter will provide regular updates about ASK-OSS. The project website (available from January onwards) will be the central information source for ASK-OSS, and new website items will form the basis of this monthly newsletter.

For an useful weekly summary of Open Source news, especially as it relates to legal matters, see the “OSWALD” newsletter – to sign up and to review past editions, visit http://www.opensourcelaw.biz/publications/newsletters/  OSWALD is provided by Brendan Scott, Principal of Open Source Law, and a Steering Committee member of ASK-OSS.

Opinion Piece

Every month we have an opinion piece tackling opportunities and challenges we all face in the wide world of Open Source. This month we will talk briefly about the up and coming GPL3.

The GNU GPL (General Public Licence) is the world’s most widely used open source software licence. It was drafted in 1991, is used in tens of thousands of software projects, and is one of the primary reasons for the success of GNU/Linux and Open Source. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is drafting the 3rd version of this licence and there are according to Richard Stallman two main objectives:

  1. To correct problems with the existing wording of the license
  2. To add features that make the license more attractive to programmers seeking to enter the Free Software fold.
(Reference: A Sneak Preview of GPL3 (Newsforge) - link below)

See below for some links about progress to date:

Recommended Reading

In each newsletter we’ll mention a useful book about Open Source issues. For those with an interest in the details of Open Source licenses, this month we recommend reading "Open Source Licensing" by Lawrence Rosen. An excellent book review is available on the Amazon website when you search for the book and the book receives 4.5 stars out of 5. The book provides a comprehensive review about Open Source licences and their implications to your organisation.

Case Study of the Month

This month’s case study of the month is MAMS, the Meta Access Management System project at Macquarie University, funded in the FRODO (http://www.dest.gov.au/Ministers/Media/McGauran/2003/10/mcg002221003.asp) round of SII projects from DEST under Backing Australia’s Ability. MAMS is an identity and access management project for higher education, particularly for inter-institutional single-sign-on. The Full case study is below however future newsletters will reference case studies on the ASK-OSS website.


MAMS is an identity and access management application for higher education particularly for inter-institutional single-sign-on. Read on for more details.

Project Details

Name of Open Source project: MAMS (Meta Access Management System)

Brief overview: MAMS is a project that allows for the integration of multiple solutions to managing authentication, authorisation and identities, together with common services for digital rights, search services and metadata management.

Standards used: SAML, XACML, SRW & JSR168

OSS technologies used: Java, Linux, Apache, Tomcat, Eclipse, Plone/Zope, OpenLDAP, LDAPbrowser, Shibboleth, Sun's XACML engine, uPortal, Redsphere, DSpace, and the LAMS wiki. They also use Thunderbird, Firefox, Fedora and some othe desktop Open Source inhouse.

OSS projects contributed to: UPortal, Fedora, Redsphere & DSpace

Implementors (internal, external): All internal


Rationale of Open Source technologies used: Easy to get, easy to maintain, a large userbase, no licence fees. 

Contact Details

Date of case study: Project started May 2004

State/s: NSW

Name of institute: Macquarie University

Contact person: Erik Vullings

Contact details: erik dot vullings at melcoe dot mq dot edu dot au

URLs (project and institute): Details of the project are either on the  University website or the MAMS project website below:



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