More on the BBC meeting

A few people have been asking me for more details about my meeting with Ashley Highfield from the BBC. I figured I would elaborate a little more.

The meeting took place in his office and we discussed a range of topics. George had a HP laptop for Ashley that he started a new install on, and while Ubuntu installed, Ashley and I discussed a range of issues. We started discussing Ubuntu, its history, where the project started, how the community fits together, how people contribute, its size, and the success of Ubuntu throughout its history. We then moved on to talk in more detail about the Open Source philosophy in which I explained how this incredible worldwide community works, and how distributors take upstream software and release it. I explained the concept of “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow“, and Ashley asked specific questions about how Ubuntu compares to other Operating Systems and other distributions. He had a keen interest in the community and was asking what kind of things I do as part of my work, and where the line is drawn between the community and Canonical. He also reminisced on his programming days with the kind of nostalgic pleasure that many of us feel when looking back to those dim, distant days in technology.

I also sat down and ran him through the Ubuntu desktop, showing it off, demonstrating some applications, and he seemed quite impressed with how it worked. I also explained some of the benefits of the Linux desktop in terms of reliability, security, viruses etc. We transferred to a separate room at the Beeb to get a network connection and we discussed some of the network aspects of Ubuntu, such as the huge range of installable packages available. The meeting then concluded, we shook hands and agreed to talk further.

Ashley is a pleasant, engaging guy, and I look forward to meeting him again.

There we go. :)

  • ChrisH

    So no mention of iPlayer or DRM then?

  • gord

    I read an interview with Ashley Highfield on groklaw once, he seemed like a nice guy who can actually see beyond the forest of microsoft systems, i look forward to what the next few years bring under his guidance

  • Andy Loughan

    Nice to hear about some positive Ashley Highfield stuff. People insulting the bloke because of corporate DRM/MS decisions isn’t going to improve the situation. Clarity and diagogue (which you appear to be espousing) is just what we need.

    Well done Jono – fantastic ambassador for us all.

  • cshields

    Next stop: an appearance on Top Gear!!! 😀

  • MJ Ray

    Thanks for reporting on this. It’s good that you met him and kept your cool. I’m glad that he’s been shown one of the better distributions up-close. However…

    @Andy Loughan: Andy Highfield does deserve a good shoeing for the corporate DRM decisions and for making silly claims about the numbers of users. Not non-stop and not personal insults, but a good shoeing nonetheless. He’s a director of the corporation and responsible for, well, directing the corporation. If you can’t hold directors accountable direction, what can you do? Campaign to sack them? I think education and evolution is better than revolution. Let them continue? We need to do something, though.

  • Alastair

    /brown nose


    only kidding, well done for pushing open source software to some of the most influential people in the land, i think i read somewhere that the BBC uses some FOSS for recording and editing its programs?

  • redintray

    And how DID you make the distinction between Canonical and the Community?

  • Adam Williamson

    It’s never a good day when you have your name in the tech press being compared to Wernher von Braun (via Tom Lehrer):

  • Karthik S

    Recently I was listening to BBC radio (world service I think) and I was shocked when in a IT related program (sorry forgot the name) the host (from BBC) was trying to explain something about linux and said something like “it is better to stick to MS/Apple as they are newer and emerging tech, whereas linux does not have so much new/advanced technology and one might have significant problems getting job ! I will try to find the name of the programme and post to you. (I hope it is not the same guy)

  • Paul Boddie

    “We then moved on to talk in more detail about the Open Source philosophy”

    What about the Free Software philosophy? It seems to me to be somewhat more robust than the “all bugs are shallow” stuff which conveniently tiptoes around any mention of freedom (so as not to upset the suits), and then experiences a crisis as something like the recent vmsplice exploit comes up.

    Although respectable hardware support for Linux is an enabler that gets the whole GNU/Linux thing through the door, the kernel development process is hardly the most appealing thing to me or, I’d imagine, to many others.

  • Kevin Mark

    What about the recent BBC story about people realizing what is in those nasty EULAs and show how FLOSS would be one way around this. And the other thing: saving money (schools, SMBs, non-profits), the environment (reuse of old tech), …

  • Tom Mann

    I think Jono’s got it right with Ashley – get him hooked and we have a friend in a high(er) place at the beeb. Sadly the deal has already been done with Microsoft but Ashley’s enlightenment would be good for us all :)

  • Nick Reynolds (editor, BBC Internet Blog)

    George Wright’s blog post about the meeting may be of interest:

  • Nick Reynolds (editor, BBC Internet Blog)

    You may also be interested in George Wright’s account of the meeting:

  • PhillC

    Alastair: The BBC does quite a few things with Open Source software. Perhaps their two best known projects are the Dirac video codec:

    And the Ingex ingest system:

    The BBC has also built for internal use a Perl MVC Framework, although I’m not aware of it being released externally: