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26 March 2013, 10:57

Free Software Awards for IPython and OpenMRS

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Richard Stallman and Dr. Fernando Perez
Zoom Richard Stallman with Dr. Fernando Perez, creator of IPython
Source: Rubén Rodríguez

In a ceremony at last weekend's LibrePlanet 2013, FSF president Richard Stallman presented the Free Software Award 2012. The Free Software Award is given out each year by the Free Software Foundation to one person for their contribution to Free Software and to one open source organisation or project for its social benefit.

The prize for promoting Free Software was awarded to Fernando Pérez for IPython. IPython is a high performance shell for interactive Python programming, which consolidates code, text, mathematical formulae, and graphics into "notebooks". The software, which is used primarily in research and teaching, can be used to develop programs with graphical interfaces for interactive data analysis.

A blog post by Joshua Bloom, a friend of Pérez, illustrates iPython's power. He recounts how it was used to take on an unsolved problem in microbial ecology; the results were presented to Nature as a self-contained, self-describing and fully reproducible iPython notebook.

Richard Stallman and OpenMRS
Zoom Richard Stallman with Michael Downey and Hamish Fraser of OpenMRS
Source: Rubén Rodríguez

The OpenMRS project, which develops an open source patient management system, received the Award for Projects of Social Benefit. According to the FSF, OpenMRS is the focus for a network of doctors, programmers and healthcare workers, which makes the project more than just medical record management software. OpenMRS is used in many different countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti, India, China, the USA, and Pakistan.

The Free Software Award has been handed out since 2005. Previous winners include Perl inventor Larry Wall, key OpenBSD developer Theo de Raadt, Linux developers Ted Ts'o and Alan Cox, Ruby inventor Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto, Wikipedia, Creative Commons, the Tor anonymisation software, and the hospital information system GNU Health.


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