FOSDEM (Sunday)

So I was at FOSDEM on Sunday.

I saw quite interesting presentations compared to Saturday.

Sorry Frederic, but I missed most of your presentation, it was way to early for me 🙂 However, I saw quite a lot of people were interested in Metisse : I went back to the cross-platform room several times and definitely your presentation had the biggest crowd of them.

I stayed for the “Strigi internals” presentation which was definitely the best I’ve seen during this FOSDEM 2007. Yes, it was a bit technical and my C++ skills are gone since a long time, but the presentation was more about the architecture rather than the code and I was very interested in it : this piece of code is really well designed ! Thanks to this architecture, Strigi is very fast, extensible via plugins, able to parse nested files (pdf inside zip inside email attachements) and lightweight… what do you want more ? I really would like to join development of strigi and see where I can help (maybe nowhere, I’ll see…)

Then, I went to one of the shows of the FOSDEM : the presentation about metasploit exploit construction framework. The guy was really speaking too fast for me, but was incredibly dynamic and I’ve no doubt in his security nor development skills. He showed how to hack a vmware box thanks to a vmware exploit. Well… almost everyone was amazed by this but I already knew metasploit and this is really 0.1% of what this tool is able of (moreover, who wanna hack his own vmware virtual machine ? This exploit can’t be lead against a real machine so it’s a bit non-sense…). However, I enjoyed this presentation much and for ruby fans, wait for metasploit 3.X, you’ll be surprised 🙂

Then, I went to the KDE room to use the Free Wi-Fi connection and read my mail. Yeah, I just enjoyed having a free Wifi connection, so many things are not free anymore these days…

In the afternoon I decided to join people in the hidden Mandriva room. This was first time I saw all of them. I met misc, pterjean, warly, nanar and several others. We spent most of the afternoon discussing packaging policies and Mandriva Club / Users / Contributors. Then, I had to get home at 17:00

I enjoyed very much this Sunday and will probably attend FOSDEM next year.

Live from FOSDEM (Saturday)

(Désolé pour les francophones, mais à tire exceptionnel, pas de post en français cette fois-ci…)

Yes, I’m here in Brussels at one of the biggest open source meeting in Europe ! Here’s what I’ve done today :

  • First conference about Patent Software status in Europe. The speaker had nothing to show, just talk. Well, that was not very entertaining and rather boring for me… Posters were distributed during this conference for a new website called www.ethipat.org about ethical patents (it has a broader range than www.ffii.org which is only about software patents) and I took one. Let’s see where I can put it now… Probably at work
  • The second conference was about One Laptop Per Child project. The good thing in that conference is that almost every aspect of the project was tackled in the presentation. It includes difficulties with governments, power management, mesh networks (which involves you turn Wifi on night and day). Unfortunately, Jim Gettys, the speaker, was a little too fast and sometimes didn’t talk in details about interesting subjects. But he had to deal the whole subject in 45 minutes, which was not easy for him.
  • I went to lunch and came back at the end of the presentation of ReactOS. I didn’t know anything about this project except the name. Those crazy guys want to re-implement a 100% windows-compatible but 100% free operating system. The goal is to be able to run all windows applications under ReactOS. Their latest version 0.3 is still very buggy and slow, but is almost able to run mIRC and boot Windows NT. There was a funny question asking if they also implemented the blue screen of the death in ReactOS 🙂 If they ever succeed, maybe one day, we’ll have an operating system able to run windows programs as well as linux ones…
  • Then, I went to the strigi presentation which was interesting and I asked a question about the beagle/strigi comparison. For the main two developers, there’s no match : strigi is 10 times faster with 10 times less code 🙂 For having tried both desktop search engines, I must admit they’re right, but I still use beagle because of its user interface and because it’s a more mature project, but I’d like to try strigi once again and maybe help them with, at least, debugging.
  • I had time to see the end of LinuxBIOS presentation where I had the confirmation of what I read in the news : a new Gigabyte motherboard (shipped worldwide) is now using LinuxBIOS 🙂 It’s a 100% free BIOS which is also faster than other BIOSes in many ways. But if trying this BIOS involves flashing my BIOS, then I’ll try when it’s more mature… sorry guys
  • Then, I’ve waited for Andrew Morton and his linux kernel presentation. Well, I was rather disappointed, new features were listed, but there was almost no discussion about them or you had to already know them in order to understand the speech. Once again, the presentation was not really entertaining with only text and no pictures, graphs nor demonstration of a particular concept. Well at least, I’m glad I’ve seen what Andrew looks like now.
  • After getting some belgium fries near Janson auditorium, I went to several stands were I grabbed an openSuse CD, a firefox sticker, a google pin and had a presentation about XGL (which was rather a presentation of compiz : you can’t do much with XGL alone…). I let the guy talk but I already knew everything about was he was telling me about because I use compiz every day 🙂 I also kept quiet because my friends (windows users) were amazed by what the guy was presenting to them and then, I was very proud to tell them that I already had compiz preinstalled on my Mandriva 2007, running out of the box 🙂
  • Finally, I went to “Gentoo’s future” conference. It’s always good to know what are distribution’s plans. But there was no presentation at all, only talks between a good part of the Gentoo team and the public. Most of the discussions were about this or that particular Gentoo bug, but there’s no real “bug plan” for Gentoo future, I’m afraid. Except maybe creating a new documentation portal which is in itself, a big project and gentoo documentation quality has always amazed me (but I’ve learnt it’s becoming more and more outdated and developers nor technical writers have no time to refresh it). The room was overcrowded and when the speaker said “who is using Gentoo here ?”, I was amazed I was almost the only one not raising my hand. So it looks like Gentoo has a very supportive community and people using Gentoo comes to conference to see developers which is very good. I’m afraid we won’t have the same effect with Mandriva… see below

So here’s what I’ve done today. I have to admit that most of the conferences’ content was not what I expected and I was generally disappointed with the presentations. However, I found out the small rooms have a more friendly atmosphere (like strigi and gentoo ones) and I think I’ll spend more times going to such rooms tomorrow.

One last thing : “where is Mandriva ?”, you might ask. That’s the most interesting part : Mandriva is here, but in a secret room… Only a small group knows about it, it’s advertised nowhere and not open to the public… Come on… I hope you’ll do a better job next year, book a room and prepare something interesting for the public, otherwise, you’ll quickly loose your community, I’m afraid. Gentoo room was full of people supporting Gentoo and which actually helped (testers, technical writers, users in specific environments, …), it was a real community. Why would Mandriva not be able to achieve the same “community effect” ? Oh, because I think people reading my blog are probably not part of “the public” but are generally Mandriva supporters, I think I can tell you the room where Mandriva guys are : it’s room number H3228. To go there, follow the “toilets” sign (or infodesk, it’s almost the same direction) : you’ll pass in front of the CentOS stand. Then, turn left as if you’d go to the toilets, but turn left again to climb up the stairs. Once you’re upstairs, be careful not to turn left (because, I found out there’s two room number H3228, but the correct one lies on the right). So turn right and you’ll notice a “Mandriva” sign on one of the doors. I’ll try to be there in the afternoon. So maybe see you there ! 🙂