Open Source on the Farm

Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 3:50 – 4:35pm in Hawthorne


Most farmers don't use Open Source Software. Why not? Are there cultural issues? Are needed applications missing? Could Open Source Software be packaged better for farmers? Are there marketing and advocacy issues?


There are Open Source projects to develop software for all sorts of specialized uses. Indeed, there are complete Linux distributions for K-12 schools, for libraries, for geographers, for musicians, and so on. But, there is very little available specifically for small farmers in the Open Source world.

In this talk, we will discuss the reasons for this and ways of changing the situation.

In particular, we will discuss:

  • The differing needs of different types of farms
  • Similarities between farm culture and Open Source culture
  • Software requirements: What applications do farmers need?
  • What applications already exist?
  • What applications need to be created?
  • How should software by packaged for farmers?

The author will discuss these and other issues from the point of view of someone who grew up on a small traditional farm, and spent his career in Open Source Software, and is now farming again.

Speaking experience


  • Davidmandel in suit 290x385

    David Mandel

    Linux Fund


    David Mandel is Executive Director of Linux Fund – a 501( c)3 non-profit that provides management and funding assistance to the Open Source community. He is also a founder and long time coordinator of the Portland Linux/Unix Group (

    Mr. Mandel has done consulting, taught college, and worked as a scientific programmer and system administrator. He is especially interested in Open Source GIS and in special purpose Linux distributions like Smoothwall, Edubuntu, ArtistX, GIS Knoppix, etc.

    After years of working in an office full time, Mr. Mandel has decided it is time for a change. So, he is farming a few acres next to the Willamette River out of Corvallis where he grows fruits and vegetables; and maybe a little software as well.