Open source news roundup for July 21, 2018

Python's founder steps down, India's new net neutrality regulations, and more open source news

Catch up on recent open source headlines.

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Yuko Honda on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

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In this edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look Python's founder stepping down, India's new net neutrality regulations, O'Reilly's thoughts about tech giants, and more.

Python loses its leader

The head of one of the most popular free software/open source software projects is stepping down. Guido van Rossum announced that he's giving up leadership of the project he founded, effective immediately.

van Rossum, affectionately known as Python's "benevolent dictator for life," made the move after the bruising process of approving a recent enhancement proposal to the scripting language. He also cited some undisclosed medical problems as another factor in his resignation. van Rossum stated that he "doesn't want to think as hard about his creation and is switching to being an 'ordinary core developer'," according to The Inquirer.

van Rossum "has confirmed he won't be involved in appointing his replacement. In fact, it sounds very much like he doesn't think there should be one," believes that Python's group of committers can do his job.

India introduces strong net neutrality regulations

While net neutrality in the United States took a huge blow in early 2018, India has gone the other way. The world's second-most populous country has introduced some of the world's strictest net neutrality regulations.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India stated that the rules are designed so "certain types of content are not prioritized over others and that broadband providers will be unable to slow down or block websites at their choosing." This is a big step for a country in which two-thirds of the population still doesn't have access to the internet but where "more and more people begin to use smartphones" to get online.

Enforcing the rules is a high priority, too. Net neutrality is baked into the conditions for an Indian service provider's license. Any "net neutrality violation could cause a provider to lose its license, a uniquely powerful deterrent."

Platforms built on open source have lost their way

That, according to Tim O'Reilly. Speaking at OSCON 2018, the publisher and pundit told an audience that "the tech industry needs to return to the spirit of openness and collaboration that drove the early days of the open-source community before it is too late."

O'Reilly pointed out that while tech giants like Google and Facebook built their infrastructure on open source, they started "taking more from their communities than they returned as the drive for profits became central to their way of life." All isn't lost, though. O'Reilly stated that the tech industry can go back to embracing the core tenets of open source and that the industry can "rebuild, to rethink the future, to discover what does it mean to get these systems right."

Open source self-driving car platform announced

Developing self-driving cars isn't just the domain of tech giants, cash-flush ridesharing services, or cutting edge automakers. UK startup StreetDrone is "selling a fully integrated autonomous car platform." It's built on a Renault Twizy two-seater electric car and is powered by open source software.

StreetDrone's vehicle is, according the company CEO Mark Preston, "like the Raspberry Pi of autonomous cars." The company's open source self-driving software, called OpenSD, is based on the popular Robot Operating System (ROS). Open source helps speed the development of the cars because, as Preston points out, "you're breaking down the problem and spreading it around the world, and over time the software becomes more and more capable, and more diverse in its capabilities."

The vehicle isn't cheap: it starts at £69,500 (about $92,000 USD). But it is "kitted out with everything a research team needs to get started."

Open source neuroinformatic platform joins Human Brain Project

The old saying goes that two heads are better than one. But what about two brains? The medical research world is going to find out now that the Berlin Institute of Health's open source Virtual Brain platform has joined the EU's Human Brain Project.

The goal of this merger is to "enable a better understanding of network mechanisms of brain function by integrating huge volumes of research data from various institutions." The Virtual Brain platform's contribution is to help researchers merge data from multiple sources, allowing them to understand the mechanisms of the brain and "produce personalized brain models."

In other news

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That idiot Scott Nesbitt ...
Scott Nesbitt - I'm a long-time user of free/open source software, and write various things for both fun and profit. I don't take myself all that seriously and I do all of my own stunts. You can find me at these fine establishments on the web: Twitter, Mastodon, GitLab...