Category Archives: Conferences

GNUnify 2009: Community Support Matters

GNUnify 2009

GNUnify 2009

I’ve been supporting GNUnify in Pune for many years now. And every year it has been great to see the deep support of local organizations like the Pune Linux Users Group (PLUG), Pune Tech and others.

GNUnify has come a long way. It started off as a small college festival in 2003 and has blossomed into a full-fledged technology conference today that represents the diverse and talented free and open source community of Pune. In an earlier era, while I was organizing LinuxAsia in Delhi, I was happy that I could help Harshad Gune, the key mover behind Gunefy, er… GNUnify, to grow the conference by having key players in the global open source community participate, speak and mentor at GNUnify. I’m proud to have been able to get many of my open source colleagues and friends including David Axmark of MySQL, Brian Behlendorf of Apache, Louis Suarez Potts of OpenOffice, Danese Cooper of OSI, Zaheda Bhorat from Google, Bob Adkins of Technetra, Matt Barker from Ubuntu, Chander Kant of Zmanda, Tony Wasserman of CMU and others to participate locally and help GNUnify grow. In addition, India’s FOSS community poured in their support in the form of speakers, participants, and mentors. That’s why I consider GNUnify to be a serious community contribution to growing open source and collaboration.

This year was another step in the right direction. I was excited when I met with Seth Bindernagel at Mozilla HQ in Mountain View and he agreed that it would be great to pull together a Mozilla Camp at the conference. Seth and his colleague Arun Ranganathan came all the way from California to deliver a fantastic Mozilla Day at the conference. It was also an opportunity for members of Mozilla’s India localization volunteer team to meet, discuss and make things happen for Firefox.

Another project that I was happy to see participate this year was Fedora India. The Fedora Activity Days (FAD) at GNUnify were a high energy effort that pulled together India’s Fedora team. I thank my friends at Red Hat, especially Sankarshan, for making this happen. FAD mentored and inspired developers and students interested in learning and participating more in the Fedora project.

It was also good to see the diversity in the technology program at the conference this year. Other workshops and talks that I thought were well done included Bob’s workshop on “Ruby from Basics” which had more than 70 hands-on participants (wow!), Rajesh’s “Programming with OpenOffice.org” workshop, Bain’s talk on git, Namita’s talk on ext4 filesystems, Dexter’s talk on WordPress tips and tricks “Blog A Way”, Pradeepto’s “Hello World – the KDE way”, and Navin’s talk on FREEconomics: the economics of free open/source. My talk on “User As Contributor: Best Practices For Growing Open Source User Communities” had lots of interaction on how and where FOSS users can contribute to growing the adoption of open source in their local communities, using local languages and locally relevant applications.

A new session at GNUnify this time was the Frequently Used Entries for Localization (FUEL) session which brought together a small but dedicated group (Rajesh Ranjan, Sandeep Shedmake, Sudhanwa Jogalekar, G. Karunakar) working on accurate translations for Marathi localization.

Another new program at GNUnify this year was “FOSS in Academics“. The session perhaps could have been better organized and better attended, but then this reflected the reality that technology education in India is by and large FOSS ignorant and unaware of many of the changes sweeping through the software world. As the need to provide FOSS-ready talent to the Indian IT industry grows, the urgency to incorporate FOSS in education is expected to follow. Its good to see GNUnify try its hand at FOSS in Academics. It might start a trend!

GNUnify 2009: Community Feedback

GNUnify 2009

GNUnify 2009

GNUnify always creates buzz in India’s FOSS beehive ;) and this year was no different.

Here are some blog posts from participants at this year’s conference which I feel provide valuable feedback to tune the conference further to serve its community.

GNUnify 2009 photos can be viewed here.

Excellent sessions at FOSDEM

FOSDEM 2009, held this weekend at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) campus in Brussels pulled together some excellent talks and sessions. The keynotes by Mark Surman of Mozilla and BDale Garbee of Debian on the first day had a packed auditorium of more than 3000 people. I really liked the lightning talks – the quality of the topics as well as the presenters was top-notch and everyone held to their 15 minute time limits. The hallways were teeming with attendees and the project tables from Mozilla, OpenOffice, BSD, Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, Ubuntu, KDE, Gnome, OpenSUSE and others were very popular.

FOSDEM 2009

FOSDEM 2009

For being a community organized conference, FOSDEM did a fantastic job in pulling together world class developers and technology leaders from across many open source projects. The audience in general was well informed and interested in the sessions they were attending. I was pleased by the questions as well as suggestions we received during OSI’s public meetings. I also liked FOSDEM’s idea of providing rooms for major projects where each project could dive into topics of interest to their communities. Only a couple of things that could’ve been improved – larger rooms for some of the talks (there was no space to even get in!) and availability of drinking water in the hallways for attendees.

At FOSDEM 2009

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

I’ll be at FOSDEM in Brussels this week and am looking forward to attending the sessions on Fedora, CentOS, Drupal and Mozilla. The first day keynotes at FOSDEM seem pretty interesting too. Mark Surman of Mozilla will talk about how freedom, openness and participation have become a pervasive part of digital life. BDale Garbee will be speaking on Debian and his observations about the role that Debian plays in the world of free software, and some lessons learned that may help other free software projects.

Also, of interest to me are the OSI sessions at FOSDEM where the OSI plans to meet with the European FOSS community. In its ‘Public Meeting of the Open Source Initiative‘, the OSI plans to discuss its recent activities, future direction and other topics of importance to the open source community.

At another session, ‘OSI: Recent Activities and Future Directions‘, the OSI’s Board of Directors will cover recent activities of the organization as well as present a current snapshot of the adoption of open source throughout the world.

Will post more later during the conference.

Building open source communities at OSSPAC

OSSPAC Singapore

OSSPAC Singapore

Singapore will be hosting its new open source conference OSSPAC from February 16-18 next month. OSSPAC is being supported by global open source players such as Red Hat, IBM, Oracle, MySQL (Sun) and Novell as well as influential local organizations such as Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the Singapore Computer Society.

It is great to see an organized effort to hold a open source business conference in Singapore. The timing is right to emphasize how open source can support cost efficiencies and bring a greater value proposition for decision makers especially during the current global economic downturn. The conference is expecting about 500 attendees from quite a spread of nations all the way from India to Indonesia and Malaysia.

OSSPAC has some great keynotes lined up. A couple of keynotes I’m interested in attending include Harish Pillay’s talk on “The Magic of Infinity: How abundance drives innovation and economies” and Dr. Leng’s talk on “iN2015 and the Innovation Bazaar“. The conference program covers a lot of ground with session topics ranging from the virtues of virtualization and Android 101 to building and governing open source communities.

I’ll be speaking on a couple of topics I’m passionate about – on building successful open source communities and on “Open Source Open World” where I’ll talk about the impact of open source outside the US especially in India where open source has developed a large and healthy grassroots community around it but still sees slow industry adoption.

I’m looking forward to being in Singapore and interacting again with the vibrant local open source community.

FOSS seminar by IOTA Kolkata on Dec 26-28

IOTA Kolkata

IOTA Kolkata

The Institute for Open Technology and Applications (IOTA) will be holding its “Freedom in Computer Technology” seminar later this month at Science City in Kolkata on December 26-28. This seminar aims to promote FOSS in West Bengal and is targeted at state policy makers, industry professionals and academics from Kolkata and neighboring areas. Panel discussions and sessions on open source technologies, business models, licensing, standards and open hardware are on the program. FSF has announced a 3 hour talk ;-) on ‘Copyright vs. Community’ by RMS at the event on Dec 26. If you’re able to attend, please send me feedback about the event.

IOTA’s charter includes promotion of FOSS in government and academia and was founded in 2007. Supported by Sun Microsystems India and Red Hat India, IOTA seeks to provide information on FOSS and open standards to organizations looking to understand how open source can fit into their IT infrastructure. IOTA’s resource center at Jadavpur University also offers training on Linux and Open Office. It would be great to see more quality training on other components of the LAMP stack from IOTA as well as more community participation from ILUG-Cal and other local groups.

GNUnify 2009 announced, CFP now open

GNUnify 2009

GNUnify 2009

Pune’s popular FOSS conference GNUnify has just announced its dates for 2009 – February 13-14. The conference has been organized annually by the Pune FOSS community, Linux User Group (PLUG) and Symbiosis’ Institute for Computer Studies and Research (SICSR) since 2003 and is a favorite meeting place for India’s FOSS community.

The seventh GNUnify plans to bring together another round of excellent technology talks, workshops, BOFs and install-fests. The call for participation is now open – so send in your proposal for an in-depth talk, a serious workshop or a BOF on the latest open source technologies to Harshad Gune or Sudhanwa Jogalekar at GNUnify.

Twincling’s Open Source Summit Programming Contest: Show-off Your Code

Twincling Open Source Summit 2008

Twincling Open Source Summit 2008

The Open Source Summit coming up in Hyderabad this weekend has lined up some exceptional talks, workshops and a fun programming contest. Sessions I’d like to be at (and I know you’d be too) include Using Git in your project, Hadoop: a data intensive distributed application framework, Map-Reduce: a distributed model of computation, open source routers, layered security using open source tools and hands-on workshops on Threading Building Blocks (TBB) and OpenMP multi-core programming.

The programming contest challengeFind the Words” is already underway. All entries must include an English-language explanation of your solution’s design. Contest entries must include source code for the implementation. Also don’t forget to add contributor names, e-mail addresses, and brief resumes (including postal addresses and telephone numbers) of everyone who contributed to the project. The project must be submitted as a gzipped tar file via email to leela at twincling dot org. The submission deadline is midnight (IST) December 12 2008.

Take on this challenge, show off your code and impress your peers.

Twincling’s Open Source Summit ’08: Contributing to Open Source

Twincling Open Source Summit 2008

Twincling Open Source Summit 2008

Cool technology, hacking code, phenomenal energy — that’s the upcoming Twincling Open Source Summit in Hyderabad.

Over the last few years it’s been fantastic to see the growing energy around open source software in Hyderabad resulting from the dedicated efforts of the Twincling Technology Foundation. This year, Twincling is organizing its 2-day Open Source Summit on December 13-14 at the beautiful IIIT Campus in Gachibowli. The agenda includes in-depth sessions on open source technologies like KDE, Git, Hadoop, OpenSUSE and Gentoo. Plus, the second day will have hands-on workshops by Intel engineers on Threading Building Blocks (TBB) and openMP. There also will be sessions on open source Web 2.0 frameworks, virtualization, networking, operating systems and multi-core software development technologies.

At Twincling events, I’ve come to expect a high level of participation from attendees, high quality discussions, and good technology sessions. Earlier this year, I conducted the Open Source Entrepreneurship Forum organized by Twincling. I was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the local developer community. They are eager to build software and start-ups based on open source tools and techniques.

At this year’s Open Source Summit, developers can expect to learn about the latest in open source software, share their knowledge and, as always, network with peers. So mark your calendars for December 13-14 (Saturday-Sunday) and participate at the summit. Don’t miss this opportunity to join in the excitement.

OSCON 2008: 10 years of Open Source, Open Web Foundation, and Microsoft joins Apache Software Foundation

OSCON2008 rang in 10 years of the Open Source Definition along with the 10th anniversary of OSCON. Open Source has come a long way in the last decade. The flag bearers of open source – Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl, PHP, Python – have matured and are now mainstream. This wealth of open source tools, technologies, and applications was well represented in OSCON’s sessions and discussions.

Sessions I liked

There were some excellent talks highlighting the adoption of open source models and technologies in education, political campaign and voting software, media such as NPR and BBC. The sessions on education, IPR & FOSS economics and women in technology were of special interest to me.

The panel discussion on “Changing Education… Open Content, Open Hardware, Open Curricula” presented initiatives from Africa such as African Virtual Open Initiatives and Resources (AVOIR) and Chisimba. According to Derek Keats of the University of the Western Cape, Chisimba, a local open source project was specifically launched to teach communication, collaboration and coding skills necessary to participate effectively in global open source projects as well as support local requirements. I feel India’s universities could significantly succeed in their goal to produce effective contributors to FOSS, if similar models were adopted. Without having the need to support local requirements (i.e. itch to scratch), it is difficult to develop any open source software locally or produce significant contributors.

I enjoyed Pia Waugh’s talk on “Heroes: Women in FOSS” where she presented the typical stereotypes that women face in technology jobs and best practices for motivating young women early on (grades 8-12) to get into programming and science in Australia. She talked about OLPC being a great platform to get kids to learn to develop using FOSS.

The panel discussion on “Open Source, Open World” provided an unfiltered view of FOSS adoption across the world. Open standards and open source have been intertwined in the past year as the politically charged ODF / OOXML battle has pulled almost every country into the debate at ISO. Nnenna Nwakanma of FOSSFA Africa talked about how bitter the open standards battle has been in Africa with tremendous pressure from large corporations to get OOXML ratified by ISO. Rishab Ghosh of UNU Merit provided an excellent overview of the EU evaluation of open standards and adoption of open source in government. Bruno Souza of Brazil provided an update on pressures imposed on the government ministeries to influence the OOXML vote. I presented a brief report on the tremendous pressure put on committee participants and central government ministeries in India as it voted against OOXML. Another key area discussed was FOSS in education. I talked about FOSS in college curricula being critical to successfully build a sustainable open source ecosystem to create contributors and software. This panel was one of those rare discussions at OSCON that provided a global perspective on real challenges to FOSS adoption. After this panel discussion, I ran across this map showing participants at OSCON to be mostly from the US and Europe. And it seemed to reflect the reality of many lop-sided discussions that happen in technology (even in open source) with minimal representation from the rest of the world.

Tectonic shifts

A key announcement at the conference was that of the formation of the Open Web Foundation (OWF). This non-profit foundation aims to protect and help development of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies. David Recordon, a founder of OWF outlined the foundation’s goals in this presentation.

And to do its open source good deed of the year, Microsoft announced its platinum sponsorship of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) by pledging to donate $100,000 every year to support Apache development. Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s Senior Director of Platform Strategy had an announcement on his blog. ASF put out the following statement on www.apache.org -

The Apache Software Foundation welcomes Microsoft as a Platinum Sponsor
At OSCON, Microsoft announced their sponsorship of The Apache Software Foundation, joining Google and Yahoo! at Platinum level. The generous contributions by Sponsoring organizations and individuals help offset the day-to-day operating expenses to advance the work of The ASF.”

Here is what Michael Tiemann of the OSI had to say about the announcement and on what Microsoft should can do for open source. I agree with him about what they can start with, namely:

  1. Pursue the abolition of software patents with the same zeal they showed in their (Microsoft’s) efforts to get OOXML approved as a standard.
  2. Unilaterally promise to not use the DMCA to maintain control of their Trusted Computing Platform.
  3. Transition to 100% open standards (as defined by the OSI, IETF, W3C, or the Digistan).
  4. Stop trying to maintain their monopolies by illegal, anti-competitive means [1] [2].

Actions demonstrate intent and direction. Let us see what Microsoft will do positively with the open source community in action. Let us see which way the wind blows.