Open source news roundup for April 24-30, 2016

DIY recycling, UCONN's open source chemistry book, and more news

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In this week's edition of our open source news roundup, we take a look at a project aimed at academic libraries, a project to develop networking for rural areas, an open source chemistry textbook, and more.

Open source news roundup for April 24-30, 2016

Open source gadget recycles plastic

Despite our best efforts at recycling, countless tons of plastics wind up in landfills and oceans each year. The Precious Plastics team has another solution: create "your own little plastic recycling workshop."

Precious Plastics is the brainchild of Dutchman Dave Hakkens, best known as the creator of the open source modular phone concept Phonebloks. Hakkens and his team "designed DIY, modular machines that enable people to start recycling plastic into valuable objects and raw material," according to Shareable's Cat Johnson.

Johnson writes that "the machines are developed using universal materials and basic tools that are available all over the world so that anyone, anywhere can build and use them." On top of that, Precious Plastics provides plans and detailed instructional videos at its website.

University of Connecticut to use open source, introductory chemistry text

One of the many burdens that university students must shoulder is the cost of expensive textbooks. While open textbook initiatives (like BC Open Textbooks and College Open Textbooks) have been making some inroads, there's still a long way to go.

Edward Neth, a chemistry professor at the University of Connecticut, says that introductory chemistry courses will use an open source text created at the university. The textbook cost $20,000 (USD) to develop, and is based on an existing textbook created by WiseWire, a nonprofit publishing startup.

Students can get free electronic copies of the textbook or pay $55 for a print edition. According to Neth, the textbook isn't "just for UConn, but for anyone else who wants to adopt it in their courses."

Rural U.K. mobile coverage gets open source boost

People living in rural areas, no matter where they are, often need to wait years before they can take advantage of the kinds of mobile and internet services their neighbors in more populous areas take for granted. That's changing in the United Kingdom, where mobile telecom provider EE has deployed its own open source software-defined networking (SDN) technology. That technology, according to, aims to "connect remote areas of Scotland to mobile networks."

Lime Micro will be providing its LimeSDR system which "lets users configure it to provide any wireless service, such as 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as develop applications and services for the network." Computer Business Review (CBR) reports that EE will provide "the programmable development kit to the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness."

Clive Mulholland, vice chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Island told CBR that "the technology could be particularly relevant to our work in remote and rural health and digital innovation." And using that development kit would allow, "anyone to build an app that can introduce a new service or a new capability to a mobile network," said Mansoor Hanif, radio networks director at EE.

New open source project aimed at academic libraries

Libraries can definitely benefit from adopting open source software, and there's not dearth of projects aimed at libraries. There's another one on the horizon: a yet-to-be-named open source library services platform (LSP).

What's interesting about this platform is that it's being backed commercial academic/legal/government information technology firm EBSCO Information Services. Although EBSCO is funding the project, the company doesn't "view this software as a product that it will own and control, but intends to attract a community of libraries and developers to design and develop the platform."

The project will build the LSP from scratch because "EBSCO concluded that none of the existing open source ILS products could serve as the foundation for this new initiative," according to American Libraries Magazine. The goal of the project, which expects to release preliminary versions by early 2018, is to let libraries choose what they want to use, rather than getting an all-in-one package that includes components they might not use.

In other news

A big thanks, as always, to the moderators and staff for their help this week. Make sure to check out our event calendar to see what's happening next week in open source.


About the author

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: The Plain Text Project, Open Source Musings, The...