Fosdem 2011 Report – Day 1

This year, I was able, thanks to my mangement support, to attend the Fosdem 2011 in Brussels. HP was a sponsor this year, and I think this event deserves it, so I’ll recommend it for sponsoring again next year, as this is one of the best community event in EMEA I’ve been able to attend (with the RMLL/LSM.

The list of speakers is impressive, with key developers of most famous projects. However more taregtting sysadmin, apps devs rather than Kernel Hackers, such as at Linux Conf Australia.

I arrived at Fosdem Friday evening by train, where I was lucky to be with Dominique Dumont who explained to me in details how I could use his Config-Model perl module to manage my configurations files (I have quite a lot with lots of info in it) in project-builder.org. We decided to join the restaurant where other fosdemers were eating for the Devops Meetup @ Fosdem, including the project leaders of FusionInventory Gonéri Le Bouder, David Durieux and Walid Nouh. We went back to the hotel not too late, as a loaded week-end was at the horizon ;-)

I attended a lot of interesting sessions. First day, it started with the keynotes:

Eben Moglen – Keynote Why Political Liberty Depends on Software Freedom More Than Ever

Extremely interesting talk (as expected), but as it was the first time I was able to attend one of his session live, I was really happy to see him in action, so passionate and energizing the community listening to him. The Room was full, so hundreds of people were exposed to his great talk.
Some points he underlined:

  • Social media we have today belong to private companies.
    Recent events in Tunisia, Egypt show importance of the Internet and the Social media.
    If states shut down the Internet, then no revolution is possible anymore.
  • So he underlined the importance of putting in place mesh network to support liberty.
  • He refered to the Washington Post “Top Secret America”
  • He also insisted on the # of private google versions exisqting WW, especially in the US, mentioning the huge mass of data mining done there.
  • When states discussed around the Internet, they consider it under the Cyber-War angle, exfiltration (spying) being considered as normal by most of them, however disruption of the Internet seen as normal is not shared across them.
    So social media services needs to be federated and not centralized if we want to sustain liberty and freedom (so not a la Facebook or Twitter) and the network, is disrupt, should not be trusted per se.
  • He then advocated “plug-servers” as a way to go on supporting privacy and personal freedom (hosting Asterix, tunneling, and various services). He also underlined the importance to be able to preserve anonymity.

He concluded on calling for help from free software developers as key people in the fight to support freedom globally and ask their help to develop meshed, potentially anonymous, tools helping people preserve their data while still distributing them. He obtained a copious round of applauses.
A question of J. Zimmermann of La Quadrature du Net allowed him to praise the role this group plays for the Net neutrality.

I met with Bdale Garbee at the end of this presentation. This is for me a real honor to be treated as a friend by him, and I always enjoy talking with him around Free Software as he has one of the most interesting view, and vision of our ecosystem. We stayed together up to the lunch, discussing about projects, HP, Open Source, … I wish it could have been longer !

Chris Lattner – Keynote on LLVM and CLang

Chris talked about the approach this project has around new compiler paradigms, layer oriented, more modern than the 30+ years old gcc. Their projects are delivered under the BSD license.
He explained the advantage of his architecture with OpenGL optimization examples.
He then described more in details the advantages of the Clang C/C++/Obj-C compiler.
Clang has a large set of features, brings performances improvements wrt gcc, while keeping gcc compatibility.
It currently compiles itself and Firefox (1 hour less than with gcc) and aims at compiling FreeBSD.
Chris underlined the performance gains obtained in O2/O3/O4 in compile time (2 to 3 times) as well as in execution time of resulting binaries (+5% to +20%).
Particularly interesting at least to me were the examples of error messages brought by Clang, which are much more precise and explicit than gcc, by really pointing to the place of the error, and giving comprehensive messages. And Clang also provides a static analysis tool, that can help detect programmation errors.
Probably worth checking on your prefered apps to see if it improves your user experience as Chris suggested.

After the lunch with Bdale, I went to the Cross-Distro Dev Room

Jared Smith (Fedora Project Leader) – Swimming upstream
This was a failry entry level presentation, but enjoyed it anyway. Only photos and words. Of course, 3 months later that pres doesn’t mean anything for you, but that’s entertaining, and I should try that at least once ;-)
It consisted of:

  • Comparison between salmons swimming upstream and work with upstream projects.
  • Used the quote: “None of us is as smart as all of us
  • Why do we care about distributions, is because we all live downstream.

Hans de Goede (Fedora) – Michal Hrusecky (openSUSE) – Downstream packaging collaboration

Hans:
Problem of dead projects without upstream or downstream collaboration.
Tool to put in place to run a new upstream.

Michal:
Ideas around sharing patches between different distributions
Topic already discusses last year without big improvement.
Bdale proposed to store centraly pointers to patches, instead of patches themselves.

Bdale Garbee (HP) – HP and Community Linux
Bdale made a short presentation on how HP helps all distributions working at their best on our ProLiant platforms, from the HP supported commercial RHEL/SLES, or community Debian, passing on partners supported ones such as OEL, Ubuntu and Asianux to the community supported ones such as Fedora, OpenSuSE, CentOS, …

Before attending the next session I took time to discuss with the project leaders and some contributors of Mageia. The build environment has made progresses, and will allow me to start working on packages for Mageia, as the tools to use are now available without conflict for Mandriva. Estimation of a usable Mageia version that could replace Mandriva is for later, around Q3 CY11.

Ralf Treinen – Jaap BoenderMancoosi

They came back on on the results of the previous EDOS project. What interested me the most was the mention of the debcheck/rpmcheck tool I didn’t know before. rpmcheck is for example included in Mandriva.

They also covered some of the results obtained by the following Mancoosi project. It soon derived into a discussion of the resue of the work done around these european projects. Problem being the perennity of the source code published without the scientists community remaining after the end of the projects.

Of course, some Linux distributions are very well represented in these projects, so some results benefot directly to them. However, it is always frustrating to see public budget sustaining useful research, with interesting results, without looking at how to transform those into long time projects beneficial for european citizens and our community.

I ended the day by joining the FusionInventory Anniversary party held downtown. A lot have been done and the future looks promising. I’ll try to help the project on my side by providing access to HP network equipment and servers to improve discovery, work with them on packaging with project-builder.org, and also invite them to the TES (HP event) so they could present Fusion Inventory to the HP OSL folks and also start collaborating with people from Combodo working on iTop, a promising CMDB Open Source tool as well.

After all that, was time to make some patches and sleep a bit before starting Day 2.

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4 Responses to “Fosdem 2011 Report – Day 1”

  1. Gonéri Says:

    Hi Bruno, Actually I’m not a Boulder yet, It’s Le Bouder and we use to write FusionInventory to improve the Google Ranking :)

  2. Bdale Garbee has been HP’s best Open Source Ambassador « Bruno Cornec’s Blog Says:

    [...] an opportunity to learn more on Open Source at HP and at large. Which was the case during various Fosdem, LinuxCon or our own internal TES. As I’ve always been impressed by his profound knowledge of [...]

  3. Bdale Garbee will soon need your help | Bruno Cornec's Blog Says:

    […] nice impressions after his conferences and talks (as in Canberra this year, in Brussels for the Fosdem or in Prague), the kind words he deserves and proposals of support from everybody in a situation to […]

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