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Participating at the II Open Source World Conference in Malaga...

Participating at the II Open Source World Conference in Malaga

Here is a short summary from my trip to the second Open Source World
Conference[1] in Malaga.  I was invited by the organizers to talk
about whatever I wanted within the scope of the conference.  That was
a new experience for me, so I struggled a bit to figure out the topic
of my talk.  I ended up planning for a talk about the organization of
the Debian and Debian Edu projects.

  1 http://www.opensourceworldconference.com/

I left Oslo early Thursday morning, and got to Malaga Airport without
any problems.  Was picked up at the airport by someone from the
organizers, and delivered to the conference center.  The conference
was at the same location as the first conference in 2004, so I was
slightly familiar with the surroundings.  I found the organizers
office, and was able to pick up my speaker tag and conference freebe
bag.  Next on the agenda was to find the people I knew in the area.
Several Debian people and other people I had meet before was going to
attend, and I wanted to hook up with them.  It proved harder than
expected.  In the main auditorium a discussion about women and the
free software communities was taking place.  I found the stream of
complains about the bad state of affairs coming from the person
talking when I entered less interesting, so I hooked my laptop to the
net and tried to see if any of the people I knew were on IRC.  I
managed to get in touch with Sergio and we met when the talks were
over for the day.  I also noticed a familiar face in Pia Waugh
(earlier Smith) from Linux Australia in the panel, waiting to have her
say on the topic of females and free software, and was happy to see
that she had a more positive approach to the issues at hand.  After
that talk I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of Pia and Jeff
Waugh over a cup of tea.  Pia showed us the USB DVB card she got from
the organizers for participating.  We tried to get it working on
Linux, but no drivers exist at this time. :(

When the talks was over, all of us headed for the hotel and due to
some misunderstanding, only me and Sergio ended up having dinner
together.  The others had disappeared when we got back from dumping
our luggage and preparing ourself to go out and eat.  I still had my
talk to prepare, so we packed up early and went to bed.

The conference started next morning with the guru panel.  Bdale Garbee
at HP, Jeff Waugh at Ubuntu and Simon Phipps at SUN were the faces I
knew in that panel.  It was an interesting discussion about the panels
vision of the future, but I found the bragging from Simon at SUN about
how great SUN was with free software slightly annoying.  Especially
since I knew that their Java license still make it impossible to
distribute along other free java implementation and thus illegal for
all the major Linux distributions to distribute and that the Debian
distro based on the Solaris kernel have similar problems as the
lisence of the C library is incompatible with the GPL and thus not
legal to use with any GPL licensed tool.

Anyway, just after the morning session I had my own presentation with
Lars Eilebrecht and Michael Wechner from the Apache foundation, Halge
Hess from the OpenGroupware project and Alan Robertson from the Linux
High Availability project.  We did 10-15 minutes intros about our
projects and took questions from the audience.  It was interesting to
learn that the French government was funding improvements with
OpenGroupware.org[2] to make it usable for several hundred thousand users
to be able to use them.  This effort is called Scalable
OpenGroupware.org.  I told him about our experiences with Notes at the
university and asked he knew what was needed to get OpenGroupware.org
or any other free software solution acceptable in our settings.
Neither of us knew what the requirements was in such setting, so it
was hard to tell, but he reported several companies and larger
organizations already used OpenGroupware.org.

  2 <URL:http://www.opengroupware.org/>

An interesting and fascinating observation from the talk about the
apache team was that they actually use a apache module as an SMTP
server[3].  I had never heard about mod_smtp before.

  3 <URL:http://1060.oregonstate.edu/module/mod_smtp/>

My talk was about custom Debian and how to use Debian as the base when
making your own preconfigured linux distribution.  I mentioned a few
of the tools and some of the experiences we have from the
Debian-Edu/Skolelinux project.  I tried to emphasize the importance of
getting improvements back into Debian, to reduce maintenence load and
make it possible to get help from other teams with similar problems.
I also mentioned a few of the problematic areas, like the lack of good
enough free Java and Flash implementation.  After my talk, I was asked
how the Debian based distributions in Spain did in that regard, and
how many of them were pushing their changes back into Debian.  I
answered that they were not doing great, but were slowly improving in
that regard, and mentioned the few official Debian developers I knew
were working for the local Spanish government making such
distributions.  I also mentioned the really helpful effort from
Valencia funding a significant amount of debian developers gatherings
in Spain.

After my talk, I went down to the organizers and managed to get my own
DVB USB stick.  Hopefully it will be working with Linux soon.

During the conference, I was able to locate the Debian Project Leader
Branden Robinson and talk about the current state of affairs in
Debian.  He wasn't too satisfied with the last years effort, and gave
me the impression that the last year really had drained him of a lot
of energy.  We discussed the upcoming DPL election, and he did not
plan to run again this time.  I had also talked a bit with Bdale about
similar topics, and we hoped things would improve the next year.
Several efforts are going on to try to address the issues we face in
the Debian project, but nothing concrete has come out of it yet.

After the conference closed (this was the last day), we decided to
head for the Picasso museum before we went for Dinner.  Branden, his
wife and mother had a car and went before the rest of us, and we were
going to meet at the museum.  But getting everyone together at the
conference and pack them together in a few taxies proved to take
forever (Jeff was being interviewed, Pia went missing, Sergio came and
went), so when we finally made it to the museum, Branden was missing.
I did not find him again before I left the next morning. :(

Anyway, Bdale, Pia, Jeff, Louis-Dominique, Alberto and me went for
dinner, and by pure luck managed to end up in the same very nice
barbecue restaurant we visited the last time we were there.  Alberto
was working on a project to map the Canary islands, so I was more than
happy to provide him with updates from the OpenStreetmap and Debian
GIS projects, and Louis-Dominique was an ex-UN inspector moving back
to Burkina Faso to work on free software.  He was interested when he
heard about Skolelinux, and I hope we can keep in touch.  The dinner
was nice and when we finally packed up almost everyone wanted to head
for bed.  I ended up in the Hotel bar with Alan Robertson talking
about everything from the USA gun policies to free software
development.  When he went for dinner I went to bed.

The next morning was uneventful, and on the plane on my way back home,
I read through the proceedings from the conference.  Most of the
articles were in some unknown language (I assume Spanish), but a few
were in English, and I read the interesting ones.  I've been unable to
find electronic versions of the articles. :(

  "Guidelines for software procurement in public administrations" by
  Flava Marzano (page 26).

    Some clues to the clueless in the public sector, on what features
    to look for and requirements to put forward when buying software.

  "Towards an EU policy for open source software - a position paper"
  by Simon Forge (page 30).

    A lot of ideas on how EU should handle free software.  Would be
    nice if they were implemented.

  "Open source software engineering" by Alexander Dymo (page 59).

    Presented interesting views on how to model free software
    development and how to estimate development time and cost when
    using this method.q

  "Sustainability of FLOSS-based business models" by Calro Daffara
  (page 64).

    A summary of the known business models around free software, and
    what to consider when using or developing free software.  Sort of
    a short intro to companies.

  "Barriers to FLOSS in SMEs: The lack of knowledge and skills" by
  Manon Van Leeuwen and Kathryn Cormican (page 73).

    Gave a summary of the issues we need to address to get small and
    medium sized enterprises to use free software.  Very nice

  "FLOSS-CC: A collaborative Network of FLOSS competency centers
  towards open source software adoptation and dissemination" by Bulen
  Ozel, Julia Velkova, Brian Restall, Jaka Mocnik, Kaan Erkan and
  Gorkem Cetin (page 79).

    A proposal to organize several centers around Europe to help free
    software adaptation.  Perhaps something for the Norwegian

  "Kradview: A free radiological image viewer for free operating
  systems" by David Santos ORcero, A. Falco Montesinos and
  C. R. Zacharias (page 101).

    A presentation of a freely available DICOM image viewer[4] usable for
    doctors wanting to look at medical images.

  4 <URL:http://www.orcero.org/irbis/kradview/>.

  "Open source software in Italian schools - a national survey" by
  Giovanna Sissa (page 114)

    This was a reference to a survey presented in 2005.  The center
    Osservatori Tecnologico (OTE) provide servies for italian schools,
    and the survey was conducted to find out how much free software
    was used, what kind of skills were needed and why the schools
    choose to use it.  The results are available on the web[5].

  5 <URL:http://www.osservatoriotecnologico.net/en/software/exp/>.

All in all I had a nice trip. :)

Petter Reinholdtsen
One of those

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