So, Green Software.

Her we are, mid-July in Malta and the temperature is soaring. 34º which ‘feels like’ 39º when you consider the humidity. All over the world weather is breaking new records and none of it in a good way. Record breaking soil temperatures. Record breaking sea temperatures.

My point for today was to highlight the state of green software.

Green Software is software specifically designed (or maybe excellently coded) to reduce resources or to have a positive impact on the environment. You won’t find very many so-called Web3 technologies in the list due, in part, to their huge energy requirements and many of them on Github will be unfinished, non-functional or perhaps one-offs far below what would be considered an MVP.

I am reminded of the Code 4 Good project back in Northern Ireland. I originally kicked it off as Code 4 Pizza. The idea that we would have a hackathon, provide pizza and drinks and focus on an area that really needed fixing for the good of society. Back in 2009, it was a pretty new idea and we managed to hack the local transport monopoly timetables into something usable. Later, I pitched the idea to the Building Change Trust and they ran a series of successful mini-projects where they’d match a programmer with a charity who had a need. Small bits of code to produce web apps and phone apps to make lives easier for charities.

This needs revived. To take on the challenge of fighting environmental collapse during a period when large corporations (fearful of boycotts from climate deniers) are pulling back on their public commitments – and if not held to account – will likely pull back on their real world commitments.

Some of this will be invisible software. Like software that helps a 3D printed solar panel frame orient itself towards the sun. Some of it will be very explicit, like reducing the energy footprint of major apps (Honestly, I’m looking at Firefox and Chrome here). As some of you may remember, I’ve been a fan of ultra-low-power-computing for years. The idea that my Phone has enough computing power for all of my needs has been demonstrated multiple times, the idea that my iPad (with a 20W power supply) was able to outpace the desktop PCs in Film School (with their 400W PSUs) is not lost on me. The concept that the Raspberry Pi, running on a tiny 5V 1A power supply could conceivably replace all of an individuals desktop computing needs is again not lost on me. On the Pi, desktop usage is a little sluggish, maybe not so much that a novice user would notice, but I notice.

But these pieces of hardware use less energy when working hard than a desktop PC uses when idle and I don’t know anyone who’s happy with their current energy bills.

We have the hardware to run highly optimised software – we just need to optimise the software.

Leave a Reply