This year, I only went for the Saturday afternoon session of FOSDEM 2009, the Free and Open Source software developers’ European Meeting. Two years ago, I mentioned the general trend that more women were interested in free/open source software/movement and this trend continues. But this time, I also noticed some really cute babies … and my son Neel-Alexandre was one of them of course! Although he’s only 7-month-old, he was really interested in the FreeBSD, Linux and Firefox mascots (respectively a red daemon, Tux the penguin and a fox). You are never too young to taste the truth 😉
I also gave a lightning talk about Gemvid, my solution to monitor rats general activity. I tried to explain most biological information needed to understand the principles and I think people were really interested in this software, something with an application a bit different than the previous talks. I updated the Gemvid website and I uploaded the latest revision (0.6c) that was “analysing” the audience from my laptop during the talk. Finally, I also uploaded the presentation (PDF, 1.3Mb) and you can directly see it below.
See you next year, for the next version?
This Sunday, I attended only two talks. These talks were in the embedded track since I was with my brother who is interested in this. The first talk, “SH-2A Linux kernel” by Yoshinori Sato, was very difficult to follow since Yoshinori did not tell us what is the SH-2A microprocessor (it is apparently used in cars, a.o.) and his English was very bad. In the second talk, Vitaly Wool introduced XIP, a way to directly run portions of software from where it’s stored in a type of Flash memory (instead of being copied to RAM first). With XIP, you can reduce boot time (or at least the “time to splashscreen”, especially interesting in handheld devices where you want to quickly be “productive”). But you can have other occasions where speed of execution is more important than price (because the type of Flash memory used is more expensive than standard RAM). Yesterday, Jim Gettys said the OLPC laptop can boot very quickly but it was thanks to the use of LinuxBIOS (and maybe XIP?). I also liked when he took a pen to show us something on a slide and said that it’s “because my wife is here and she said it’s bad manners when I point at things with my finger”. 😉
During the afternoon, I was moderator for the Lightning Talks where people has 15 minutes to introduce their projects. This afternoon, it was about SIP Communicator (an open source VoIP and Instant Messaging client), OSSIE (a free radio software project), the OpenOffice.org port for Mac OS X, Mapyrus (a software for creating vector elements – mainly for cartography – and output them in various formats), PSPP (a free replacement for the commercial statistical package SPSS), OpenEmbedded (about how to make their porting task easier) and Mozart-Oz (a “multi-paradigm programming language”). It was nice to see all that life around free software (moreover, nearly all the speakers respected the time limit).
I spent this Saturday at FOSDEM, listening to some interesting talks.
Pieter Hintjens spoke about the Status of Software Patents in Europe. As the FFII president, he should clearly be against software patents. But, although his speech went in this direction, the 3 new FFII initiatives are diluting his/its position as well as the threat (the 3 initiatives are European patent conferences, the creation of the European Software Market Association to lobby the EU and a Campaign for Ethical Patents). Let’s talk seriously: software patents are not a solution and shouldn’t be allowed ; no trade-off.
Jim Gettys talking about the One Laptop Per Child project was good and exciting. I thought that the project was just about reducing the cost of a laptop with the 100 US$ goal in mind. But, technically, no one can just give regular laptop (as we have in developed countries): they are not designed to save enough power, to resist water and dust, to be readable under the sun, … The OLPC team came with bright ideas like a CPU that can be turned off (saving power) with display still on (allowing children to read) and wireless still on too (allowing the reception and transmission of network packets). They are using Open Source software because transparency is empowering (but it also really helps reducing costs and is the only thing you can use if you want to modify and fine-tune software).
Simon Phipps‘keynote about the “liberation” of Java was disappointing. It was rather a Sun/Java commercial show than a real developers talk. Of course, they are working on the next release of Java and Sun became a corporate patron of the FSF. But nor the JDK nor the JRE are free for the moment.
During the afternoon, I saw a very nice introduction (à la Lessig) of Jabber by Peter Saint-Andre, a hypnotic introduction to Fedora by Chitlesh Goorah and Max Spevack, a clear talk about the Belgian eID on CentOS by Fabian Arrotin (although nothing was said on concerns about privacy) and finally Wim Dumon’s talk on Wt (bof).
In general, I noticed 3 general trends: more women are interested in free/open source software/movement (even more than last year), more Mac PCs are shamelessly turned on 😉 and more SLR cameras are used.