Keeping Linux Great

Presented by Robert M. "r0ml" Lefkowitz
Friday 9:15 a.m.–10 a.m.
Target audience: Developer


Linux is Great. And part of that greatness was, at one time, attributable to the ascendency of Free Software. Now that Free Software is in decline, it behooves us to reflect upon how to keep Linux great despite the fact that it is Free Software.

The underlying motivation for Linux and Free Software was (and is) to democratize software -- making it more accessible to all. Free Software used to be the best strategy for doing so. Now that the challenges for democratization have mutated, we must figure out new strategies for democratizing software, and keeping Linux great.

This talk will review the changes in the technology environment that have led to the decline of free software, and the emerging opportunities for democratizing the software of the future.

Presented by

Robert M. "r0ml" Lefkowitz

Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz is the Chief Architect at Warby Parker, a technology-enabled lifestyle brand. In 2015, Fast Company named Warby Parker the most innovative company in the world.

Prior to Warby Parker, r0ml worked mostly in the financial and telecommunications industries, acting as Chief Architect at AT&T Wireless and Vice President of Data Services at Asurion and Morgan Stanley. In 2006 he was named a Distinguished Engineer of the ACM.

At one of his first seven jobs, r0ml was the Public Software Librarian for a timesharing company -- seven years before the GNU manifesto. In 2000, he became the first person at Merrill Lynch to install Linux, and as a result, his computer was confiscated by the IT department. In response, he became the Director of Open Source Strategy for Merrill Lynch, and secured the email address He regrets the loss of that address.

r0ml is an enthusiastic, albeit not very accomplished, fencer and juggler, and enjoys studying obscure programming languages. He grew up in Brazil, with a French mother and Chinese father of Russian ancestry. He would love to say something about his wife, Gina, and their seven children, but space does not permit.

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