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money handler

Hamakor

Official name: Hamakor - Israeli Society for Free and Open Source Software (המקור - עמותה ישראלית לתוכנה חופשית ולקוד־מקור פתוח) is an Israeli non-profit dedicated to the advancement of free and open source software in Israel. Usually just referred to as Hamakor.

Hamakor was founded in January 2003. As of 2005 it has about 200 registered members. Its primary primary purpose is the somewhat axiomatic charter of giving an official face to the decentralized Open Source community where such a face is needed.

Reasons for Forming and Background

The idea for forming an official, legally recognized organization was thought out by several members of the open source community, most notable are Gilad Ben-Yossef and Doron Ofek, due to the non-open source related bodies difficulty and dealing with the inherently decentralized way open source is being developed and advocated. The two main bodies that are used to dealing with organizations, in that respect, were the media, that is used to having someone to call to get a comment, and the Knesset, where standing up in front of a legislator requires answering the implicit question "who am I and why should you listen to me". It was felt that, as individuals, the community's ability to make a difference is reduced than as an organized body.

Despite that idea being around for some time, the final push to form the actual organization was a desire by Gilad Ben-Yossef, circa July of 2002, to see Revolution OS in Israel. It turned out that the only way to see the movie was to rent a cinema hall and pay the distributer. Gilad decided open the event to the public, and charge a small fee for entrance to cover costs. The event was labeled "August Penguin", and took place during the first Friday of August, 2002. The event was a financial success, in that an extra 2000 NIS were recorded after expenses. Gilad pledged to use that money to start the official organization. This also affected Hamakor's charter, adding to it the capacity to form as a recognized money handler on behalf of the community for organizing events or any other monetary activity.

Meaning of the Name

The name for Hamakor was offered by Ira Abramov. It was offered after a series of Linux related names was offered, as a name that is not specifically related to Linux (as opposed to free software at large) on one hand, and yet does have a Linux specific reference hidden in it. The word "Makor" in Hebrew means "source" (as in open source), but also "beak", being a hidden reference to Tux being a bird.

The original name as submitted to the registrar of non-profits was "Hamakor - The Israeli Society for Free and Open Source Software". The registrar stroke down the "the", claiming Hamakor has no right to claim exclusivity.

Two Levels of Membership

Most of the points on Hamakor's charter were either fairly straight forwardly based on the reasons for forming it or a result of legal requirements. One point that was largely debated, however, was whether anyone can become a full voting member. Hamakor was aimed to be a representative of the community. The concern raised was that the commercial companies would try to take control over the organization. As a result, two restrictions were made. The first was that membership was limited to individuals only. The second was the creation of a two level membership. Hamakor has a members, which has full voting capacity, and friends. A friend is an individual who enjoys all the benefits (such that there are) a member has except for one - a friend cannot vote one charter changes and when electing the board.

To move from a friend status to a full member status one has to show some activity promoting free/open source software. The definition of "some" has changed over time. During some periods the board required actually writing non-trivial amounts of code, while in others the board deemed helping a friend install Linux on his computer enough.

In most cases, almost anyone who wished to become a full member could do so.

August Penguin

Having a gathering on the first Friday of August has become a tradition, and August Penguin has turned into the yearly conference for Hamakor. Of course, due to the way the organization was formed, there is one more August Penguin conference than years Hamakor exists, having the unique situation where an organization's yearly conference actually pre-dates the organization's forming.

In 2005, the conference made an attempt to make the conference more aimed at the professional audience. As part of it, it was moved to Thursday (Friday is part of the weekend in Israel). In 2006, the conference was moved back to Friday, but due to scheduling problems happened on the second Friday of August. The conference is no longer about watching a movie, and has lectures from various sources. The conference also accepts sponsors, with the Israeli Internet Association being the most consistent one over the years.

Meeting the Objectives

It can be claimed the Hamakor managed to meet the original objectives behind its forming. Journalists do contact, either Hamakor directly or known people within the open source community for comments about events. Hamakor was active in blocking several DMCA like law proposals in Israel, and even managed to affect (alongside the Israeli chapter of the Internet Society) the renewed Copyright law in Israel, both in blocking anti-circumvention text from entering it and in keeping pro-customer text in it, and even managed to enhance the explicit reverse engineering allowance in the law to cover security audits as a legitimate reason to reverse engineer. Alongside August Penguin, it can be claimed that all of the original goals set for the society were met.

Since Hamakor operates with a balanced budget, and since the above activity is reactive in nature, some feel that Hamakor should take it on itself to do more. To date, Hamakor has not managed to overcome the gap between the centralized way a legal entity must act and the decentralized way a community acts. Hamakor's action are based solely on volunteers, and as such, is time constrained. Hamakor was involved in several initiatives that were attempted, but either never managed to make a real difference, or otherwise are taking years to show actual results. One such initiative was forming Linux based classrooms in schools - several schools came along, Hamakor managed to get equipment donated (or, in some cases, bought it), but lack of local volunteers made the project grind to halt almost completely.

Another aspect of this contradiction is the fact that while a lot of free software activity takes place in Israel, it is not directly Hamakor's doing. This is not a problem if Hamakor is limited to its original objectives, but when these objectives are expanded, resource limitation becomes a visible problem.

Activities

Hamakor's primary activities include organization of the yearly August Penguin convention and support for the Israeli "Welcome to Linux" tradition of a yearly series of presentations and Linux installation parties that introduce Linux to beginners. The latter was started by the Haifa Linux Club but is now also conducted by the Tel Aviv Linux Club and the Jerusalem Linux Club.

Hamakor prize

Hamakor awards a prize annually, recognizing an Israeli who has made a significant and important contribution to Free Software. The awardee is determined in an Academy Award-like process, with all Hamakor members and friends being eligible to vote for the most deserving person, who is typically announced at the annual August Penguin event.

Previous Hamakor prize winners include:

  • 2004: Maxim Iorsh for his Culmus project providing high-quality Hebrew fonts.
  • 2005: Yael Vaya Talmor for creating Free-software-based computer rooms in schools.
  • 2006, 2007: no prize awarded

Elected board members

Hamakor's board consists of three elected members. The following people have served on Hamakor's board: (the year listed is the year of election)

External links

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