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15 of my favorite podcasts on free and open source
15 podcasts for FOSS fans
I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot. On my phone's podcatcher, I am subscribed to around 60 podcasts... and I think that only eight of those have podfaded (died). Unsurprisingly, a fairly sizeable proportion of those remaining alive-and-well subscriptions are shows with a specific interest or relevance to open source software. As I seek to resurrect my own comatose podcast from the nebulous realm of podfadery, I thought it would be great for us as a community to share what we're listening to.
Quick digression: I understand that there are a lot of "pod"-prefixed words in that first paragraph. Furthermore, I also know that the term itself is related to a proprietary device that, by most accounts, isn't even used for listening to these web-based audio broadcasts. However, the term 'webcast' died in the nineties and 'oggcast' never gathered a substantial foothold among the listening public. As such, in order to ensure that the most people actually know what I'm referring to, I'm essentially forced to use the web-anachronistic, but publicly recognized term, podcast.
I should also mention that a number of these shows involve grown-ups using grown-up language (i.e. swearing). I've tried to indicate which shows these are by putting a red E next to their names, but please do your own due diligence if you're concerned about listening to these shows at work or with children around.
The following lists are podcasts that I keep in heavy rotation (each sublist is listed in alphabetical order). In the first list are the ones I think of as my "general coverage" shows. They tend to either discuss general topics related to free and open source software, or they give a survey of multiple open source projects from one episode to the next.
- Bad Voltage E — Regular contributor and community moderator here on Opensource.com, Jono Bacon, shares hosting dutes on this podcast with Jeremy Garcia, Stuart Langridge, and Bryan Lunduke, four friends with a variety of digressing and intersecting opinions. That's the most interesting part of the show for me. Of course, they also do product reviews and cover timely news relevant to free and open source software, but it's the banter that I stick around for.
- FLOSS Weekly — The Twit network of podcasts is a long-time standby in technology broadcasts. Hosted by Randal Schwartz, FLOSS Weekly focuses on covering one open source project each week, typically by interviewing someone relevant in the development of that project. It's a really good show for getting exposed to new open source tools... or learning more about the programs you're already familiar with.
- Free as in Freedom — Hosted by Bradley Kuhn and Karen Sandler, this show has a specific focus on legal and policy matters as it relates to both specific free and open source projects, as well as open culture in general. The show seems to have gone on a bit of a hiatus since its last episode in November of 2015, but I for one am immensely hopeful that Free as in Freedom emerges victoriously from its battle with being podfaded and returns to its regular bi-weekly schedule.
- GNU World Order — I think that this show can be best descrbed as a free and open source variety show. Solo host, Klaatu, spends the majority of each show going in-depth at nearly tutorial level with a whole range of specific software tools and workflows. It's a really friendly way to get an open source neophyte up to speed with everything from understanding SSH to playing with digital painting and video. And there's a video component to the show, too, which certainly helps make some of these topics easier to follow.
- Hacker Public Radio — This is just a well-executed version of a fantastic concept. Hacker Public Radio (HPR) is a community-run daily (well, working-week daily) podcast with a focus on "anything of interest to hackers." Sure there are wide swings in audio quality from show to show, but it's an open platform where anyone can share what they know (or what they think) in that topic space. Show topics include 3D printing, hardware hacking, conference interviews, and more. There are even long-running tutorial series and an audio book club. The monthly recap episodes are particularly useful if you're having trouble picking a place to start. And best of all, you can record your own episode and add it to the schedule. In fact, they actively encourage it.
My next list of open source podcasts are a bit more specific to particular topics or software packages in the free and open source ecosystem.
- Blender Podcast — Although this podcast is very specific to one particular application—Blender, in case you couldn't guess—many of the topics are relevant to issues faced by users and developers of open source other softrware programs. Hosts Thomas Dinges and Campbell Barton—both on the core development team for Blender—discuss the latest happenings in the Blender community, sometimes with a guest. The release schedule is a bit sporadic, but one of the things I really like about this particular show is the fact that they talk about both user issues and developer issues... and the various intersections of the two. It's a great way for each part of the community to gain insight from the other.
- Sunday Morning Linux Review — As it's name indicates, SMLR offers a weekly review of topics relevant to Linux. Since around the end of last year, the show has seen a bit of a restructuring. However, that has not detracted from its quality. Tony Bemus, Mary Tomich, and Tom Lawrence deliver a lot of good information, and you can catch them recording their shows live through their website (if you happen to have free time on your Sundays).
- LinuxLUGcast — The LinuxLUGcast is a community podcast that's really a recording of an online Linux Users Group (LUG) that meets on the first and third Friday of each month. The group meets (and records) via Mumble and discussions range from home builds with single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi to getting help with trying out a new distro. The LUG is open to everyone, but there is a rotating cast of regulars who've made themselves (and their IRC handles) recognizable fixtures on the show. (Full disclosure: I'm a regular on this one)
- The Open EdTech Podcast — Thaj Sara's Open EdTech Podcast is a fairly new show that so far only has three episodes. However, since there's a really sizeable community of open source users in the field of education (both in teaching and in IT), this show serves an important and underserved segment of our community. I've spoken with Thaj via email and he assures me that new episodes are in the pipe. He just needs to set aside the time to edit them.
- The Linux Action Show — It would be remiss of me to make a list of open source podcasts and not mention one of the stallwart fixtures in the space: The Linux Action Show. Chris Fisher and Noah Chelliah discuss current news as it pertains to Linux and open source topics while at the same time giving feature attention to specific projects or their own experiences using various open source tools.
This next section is what I'm going to term my "honorable mention" section. These shows are either new or have a more tangential focus on open source software and culture. In any case, I still think readers of Opensource.com would enjoy listening to these shows.
- Blender Institute Podcast — The Blender Institute—the more commercial creative production spin-off from the Blender Foundation—started hosting their own weekly podcast a few months ago. In the show, artists (and now a developer!) working at the Institute discuss the open content projects they're working on, answer questions about using Blender, and give great insight into how things go (or occasionally don't go) in their day-to-day work.
- Geek News Radio E — There was a tangible sense of loss about a year ago when the hosts of Linux Outlaws hung up their mics. Well good news! A new show has sprung from its ashes. In episodes of Geek News Radio, Fab Scherschel and Dave Nicholas have a wider focus than Linux Outlaws did. Rather than being an actual news podcast, it's more akin to an informal discussion among friends about video games, movies, technology, and open source (of course).
- Geekrant — Formerly known as the Everyday Linux Podcast, this show was rebranded at the start of the year to reflect kind of content that the hosts Mark Cockrell, Seth Anderson, and Chris Neves were already discussing. They do discuss open source software and culture, but they also give their own spin and opinions on topics of interest in general geek culture. Topics have a range that includes everything from popular media to network security. (P.S. Opensource.com content manager Jen Wike Huger was a guest on Episode 164.)
- Open Source Creative E — In case you haven't read my little bio blurb, I also have my own podcast. In this show, I talk about news and topics that are [hopefully] of interest to artists and creatives who use free and open source tools. I record it during my work commute so episode length varies with traffic, and I haven't quite figured out a good way to do interviews safely, but if you listen while you're on your way to work, it'll be like we're carpooling. The show has been on a bit of hiatus for almost a year, but I've commited to making sure it comes back... and soon.
- Still Untitled E — As you may have noticed from most of the selections on this list, I tend to lean toward the indie side of the spectrum, preferring to listen to shows by people with less of a "name." That said, this show really hits a good place for me. Hosts Adam Savage, Norman Chan, and Will Smith talk about all manner of interesting and geeky things. From Adam's adventures with Mythbusters to maker builds and book reviews, there's rarely ever a show that hasn't been fun for me to listen to.
So there you go! I'm always looking for more interesting shows to listen to on my commute (as I'm sure many others are). What suggestions or recommendations do you have?