2006 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2006-01-26 - Massimiliano Pala


An interview conducted by Lionel Dricot (aka "ploum")
FOSDEM - Please present yourself.

Massimiliano Pala - I hold an M.S. Degree in Computer Engineering and I am currently attending PhD course at the Politecnico di Torino, although actually I am working as visiting PhD at Dartmouth College (US).
I have been playing with computers since I was eight and I still enjoy working on them. I personally find programming a form of art, and I like to think that in some sense in every program I write there is a little "piece of me".
Actually my research interests are in the field of new security architectures and protocols development, Peer-to-Peer technologies for PKIs and e-Government projects.

FOSDEM - What is "different" with OpenCA ? What are the competitors on this "market" and why must we choose OpenCA ?

Massimiliano Pala - When I started the project in 1998 the market was pretty closed, there were no options available in the open source community and costs to experiment with digital certificates where unbearable. At that time I was used to work for my hometown's municipality and we wanted to provide all the citizens with a digital ID, free of charge.

Today there are many different choices out there, but the plus of OpenCA, I guess, is that we have a good community of users and developers willing to provide suggestions and share their experiences. This is not true for many other products.

In my understanding, finally, you do not have to choose OpenCA because it is the best product available (I wish!), but we hope you'll use OpenCA and provide feedback to the project so that everyone who is involved may benefit from your experience. OpenCA provides an option, you are free to choose the software you like best!

FOSDEM - What, in OpenCA, makes you very proud of it?

Massimiliano Pala - I guess the longevity of the project and its support from the very users. Most of the time, solutions and new features are suggested by users themselves, I find this really amazing. Also we are very open to contributions from everyone.

FOSDEM - What, in OpenCA, ashamed you the most ?

Massimiliano Pala - Recently some good developers left the project to start their own, it is unfortunate having a split of the codebase, but I wish them all the best. After all they will provide another option and, hopefully, new ideas and different features.

FOSDEM - How do you see the future of OpenCA and your own future in the OpenSource world ?

Massimiliano Pala - I hope that OpenCA will provide ever more a general framework where different PKI projects may find their own place.
I also hope we will have the opportunity to provide not only good software but also innovation in the PKI field throughout coding and deployment experience. We are working hard on this and we hope the community will support in this as well.

Many people think that OS projects do not innovate, we want to change this feeling by also providing scientific support to new ideas.

I guess that I'll always look at the OpenSource world as my natural home. I grew up by coding open source software and I find it extremely difficult to understand people and enterprises that do not support this model.

FOSDEM - What will you talk about at FOSDEM this year (more precisely than just "it will be about OpenCA") ?

Massimiliano Pala - The OpenCA project is moving forward. We have great news I hope I will be able to talk about in my talk at FOSDEM. Unfortunately I can not be more specific today.

What I can say is that we will present a full new development strategy as well as a totally new design for OpenCA. It is an ambitious project that will probably take some time to be completed.
These engineering efforts will be aimed to solve current deployment issues in our current codebase that grew throughout the life of the project on a (quite) old code. Now it is time for OpenCA to undergo a major re-design to support new technologies and to face new PKI issues and environments (e.g. Grids or Ubiquitous computing).

FOSDEM - What do you expect from FOSDEM and what makes you happy (if any) to come here in Belgium ?

Massimiliano Pala - First of all I hope to meet interesting and nice people to talk to. I also hope to receive feedbacks about our news and our plans for the future--it is very important to us.

FOSDEM - Thanks you for your answers, for coming to FOSDEM and for your involvement in Free Software.

Massimiliano Pala - Thank you for the opportunity to talk about OpenCA at FOSDEM, there are not many occasions for open source projects (not funded ones, at least) to talk outside the boundaries of their own communities.


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