Our TechRepublic team Down Under has been covering the news and developments out of the Linux.conf.au 2012 meeting in Ballarat (Victoria), Australia. If you’ve missed the updates in the Girt by Code blog, here are a few of the hot topics:

What open source should learn from Apple

Bruce Perens, creator of the Open Source Defintion, delivered some interesting comments in his keynote address to the conference, including what Open Source can learn from Apple (echoing something our own Jack Wallen has written about many times). Perens believes that open source initiatives need to court users a little more (not just the tech-savvy Linux geeks) and cites the work of Wikipedia and the Mozilla Foundation as good examples of what open source initiatives should strive for.

FreedomBox and privacy

As attendee Stilgherrian writes, “The project aims to create and preserve personal privacy by providing a secure platform for building federated social networks.”

Instead of storing personal information centrally in commercial services, like Facebook or Google+, every user would have their own FreedomBox server, minimising the possibility of their data being accessed by third parties legally or illegally.

Relying on software with life-and-death consequences

In another session, Lawyer Karen Sandler, who has a heart condition requiring a pacemaker-defibrillator, discusses her personal issue — that the software running this device, and on which she depends, is not open to her own viewing.

Yet it turns out that it’s impossible for her to see and understand the technology that’s being installed into her own body and upon which her life depends. Regulatory authorities don’t see or review the software either.

She simply has to trust that the vendor is telling the truth and doing things right.

Read the posts and download the podcasts

There are definitely some very provocative sessions going on at Linux.conf.au 2012. Check them out for yourself to get more of the details. A fourth podcast from the last day is still forthcoming, so check back in the Girt by Code blog to get the next installment.