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


2006-01-31 - Jon Trowbridge


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

Jon Trowbridge - I'm Jon Trowbridge and I live in the United States, in the city of Chicago. I work at Google, in their Open Source Program Office. Prior to joining Google, I was a member of Novell's Linux Desktop Team. While at Novell I helped to start the Beagle Project, an effort to build a fully-featured desktop search system for the Linux desktop.

FOSDEM - What is "different" with Beagle? What are the competitors on this "market" and why is Beagle better?

Jon Trowbridge - Beagle's best-known competitors are Apple's Spotlight and Google Desktop Search... but they aren't direct competitors since they do not run on Linux. Some KDE developers are working on a desktop search system called Kat, but I don't know very much about it.

One unambiguous advantage of Beagle is that it is free and open. But beyond that, it is difficult for me to directly compare Beagle to other systems: all of my important files, emails and other data have been stored on my Linux machine, so I have not been able to see how Spotlight or GDS behave under normal usage.

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

Jon Trowbridge - There are a lot of things in Beagle that I'm proud of, but rather than rattling off a long list I'll just mention one: when we were designing Beagle, an important goals was to build a flexible, language-neutral foundation for a variety of search-related applications. Today we have client libraries that make it easy to incorporate Beagle search results into C#, C and Python programs, and a variety of Beagle-powered tools have started to appear. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

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

Jon Trowbridge - The bugs, of course. Beagle is still under development, and it still has some bugs that can cause it to consume a lot of memory or use too much CPU, slowing down your computer. We are working hard to fix these issues, since it is important that Beagle be as unobtrusive as possible.

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

Jon Trowbridge - Beagle is now being maintained by Joe Shaw, who is one of the best developers out there --- any project he is involved with has a bright future.

Since my move from Novell to Google is a very recent development, it is too early for me to say exactly what I'll be doing there. But I've been involved with open source since before they started calling it "open source", and I expect my involvement to continue for a long time to come.

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

Jon Trowbridge - My talk will be an overview of what I've learned over the last two years while working on Beagle --- and I intend to take advantage of my new emeritus status to be even more discursive than usual. Expect to hear about subjects like the challenges of integrating with existing applications, inotify and the Linux file system, developing with Mono, free software on non-free platforms, and the importance of giving away t-shirts.

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

Jon Trowbridge - I'm very pleased to be speaking at FOSDEM --- I've always heard that it is an excellent conference, but I've never had the opportunity to attend until now. And I've never been to Belgium either, so that will be a new experience too.

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

Jon Trowbridge - You are very welcome!


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