From tech to toilet paper, Berliner tries to live completely open source for one year

Muirhead wants to see if he can live totally open source for a year and spread the open source gospel

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Open Source

Open source computer, open source mobile phone, open source toothbrush, open source jeans, open source video codec, open source camera, open source beer and even open source toilet paper: these are just a few things you need if you decide to make every aspect of your life open source for a year. A 28-year-old filmmaker from New Zealand living in Berlin is going to try just that.

"I'm starting on the first of August," said Sam Muirhead, who added that he has long been interested in open source technology and the philosophy behind it. He plans to abandon copyright products for one whole year and base his life on open source products and the principle of sharing the results of community-oriented labor. Muirhead, who can't code, cannot solder and is a Mac user, wants to raise awareness outside the tech world about open source projects and methods.

Muirhead is planning to become a "Linux nerd" and said he would have to abandon a lot of software that he has gotten used to. He used Apple's Final Cut Pro to edit video, but that has to change. "It is going to be a close race between Lightworks and Novacut," he said, adding that it will probably be Novacut because Lightworks at the moment only runs on Windows.

He'll need to change his camera too, because it shoots video in the H.264 video codec, which is not an open source format. To solve this problem, together with the c-base hacker community in Berlin, Muirhead is going to try to come up with a camera that is able to shoot high quality video and still uses as much open source technology as possible.

But using only open source products could make life quite difficult, he said. Open source housing is one of the problems, he noted, adding that he already found an open source house made by someone in Berlin. However, the house is only one cubic meter in size. Although that might be quite small, he is going to build a house based on the same design and live in it until he comes up with a better solution, he said.

There are also parts of open sourcing his life he isn't looking forward to. Figuring out a way to make and use open source toilet paper, for instance, is going to be an "interesting and possibly painful process," he said. At the moment, he plans to find a way to recycle waste paper. Trying to open source other aspects of life, such as health care and contraception, might lead "to somewhat ridiculous results" including do-it-yoursef (DIY) dentistry, he noted.

"This is a very ambitious project and I need a lot of help," Muirhead said. He is not planning a solo project because nobody wants to watch videos of him sitting on his couch all year, he said. By cooperating with other people Muirhead wants to spread the gospel of open source, get people involved in DIY and benefit the community.

Berlin is the perfect city for a project such as this, he said. "This would not be possible in New Zealand," he said.

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