FOSDEM - Speakers Info about speakers en Interview: Simon Phipps <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/simon+phipps"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-32-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> As Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems, UK-based Simon Phipps' job could become ever more tiring, it seems. The biggest step the company has taken so far is definitely the announcement of the Java Development Kit (and Runtime Environment) becoming free software. </p> <p> We invited Simon to keynote and FOSDEM and, due to his busy schedule, interviewed him about Sun's position in the free software universe over the phone. </p> <h3> What's motivation to speak at FOSDEM 2007? </h3> <p> Well, I want to share Suns vision of Java as a problem-solving technology in free and open (or GNU) software. One of the main problems people face today, is that different kernels are running underneath their code.<br /> Java, and interpreted (scripting) languages as well, can bring a huge benefit because it isolates from the underlying platform. So the big advantage that Java brings is not really the programming language, but the virtual machine that it runs on. </p> <p> We want to bring scalable, industrial-strength software to the community, and one way to do it is by introducing exciting software... </p> <h3> So your focus is more Java as a platform, rather than Java as an implementation language? </h3> <p> Yes, for example, Robert Tolksdorf has been maintaining <a href="">a list of languages</a> that run on the Java virtual machine]. And we're encouraging all these efforts - and Ruby in particular. For us, they're all part of the platform, they're all bringing value into the system. </p> <h3> What was your involvement in the process and the decision to actually use the GPL instead of e.g. CDDL? </h3> <p> As Sun is mainly an engineering company, there were a lot of people involved in the decision -- lots of people had a voice in it.<br /> It's been a very long discussion internally. Everybody agreed on the basic strategy of liberating the code, but there were a number of different opinions about how to reach that goal. In early 2006, we had narrowed our selection to a small number of possible licenses. </p> <p> As to my role, as chief open source officer I was of course very heavily involved in the decision. </p> <h3> Did Sun feel somewhat "pushed" to go open source because the rest of the Java ecosystem (with efforts like JVMs (such as GNU Classpath, Kaffee, SableVM, GCJ, Apache Harmony, ...) were already free? </h3> <p> Not really.<br /> To us, it was more of question of how far the platform had reached. And in that regard, we were a bit constrained by licensing issues.<br /> For example, some users didn't have access to a coherent package to install Java from. For a very long time, the projects that you mentioned were available, but they weren't fully complete or compatible with what we had. </p> <p> The biggest problem we faced was that Java could not be packaged well for a lot of users. For Linux users, the only way to get Java from Sun was in an RPM package - and it was a pretty hostile RPM at that. </p> <p> The Java Distribution License (JDL) solved some issues there -- for example it allowed Tom Marble to create a .deb package in collaboration with Debian. </p> <p> Our decision to go open source has been painted as "pushed" or "forced" before, but that's completely unlike our feeling about it.<br /> It's just something that fits into our vision, and nothing more. We see Java as an industry standard, and we want to collaborate on it together with the community. </p> <h3> Is Sun expecting something particular from the community? </h3> <p> That's not how we view things.<br /> You have to keep in mind -- Sun is different from companies like IBM or Microsoft. You see, Sun's roots lie with BSD Unix and custom high-end hardware -- big margin machines. Which was, at the time, a completely new market. And that's the heart and spirit of our company: to create and grow new markets. And to grow along with them. </p> <p> So our strategy for two decades has been to create new business categories. This time, with FOSS, the category is not new, it's already there.<br /> And our new mission now is to help grow that space, and to grow along with it. </p> <p> Our philosophy is that we should gather around source code to make software, and not worry too much about objectives.<br /> And you have too keep in mind -- the Java world has grown to a huge size. For example, four billion devices have shipped with Java support and there are five million Java developers worldwide. </p> <p> The benefit for us in opening up Java is that it will allow the market to grow even more. And a bigger market leads to more innovators and more opportunities. </p> <p> I know that can sound suspicious... But in our view a big community leads to big markets, which lead to big profits.<br /> And we have no interest to "string" competitors by making strategic moves - that's just not how our philosophy works. </p> <h3> Has the reaction from the industry about the opensourcing of the JVM been positive or negative? </h3> <p> We have received almost no negative reactions from the industry -- it's been amazingly positive. There is perhaps one exception, and that's IBM. IBM does not really like the GPL, it favours the Apache license.<br /> But we felt that such a license would have hindered Java's acceptance into Debian -- there are compatibility concerns between the Apache license and the GPL. </p> <p> Now, OpenSolaris has a different license, because it has a different community. The roots of Solaris lie in the BSD world, and the BSD community was pretty happy with the license that we chose for Solaris -- a license that does not have project-level consequences, but operates on the individual source code files instead. </p> <h3> We keep hearing rumours about OpenSolaris going GPL as well... Will that become reality? </h3> <p> We've not really decided that yet. We're looking at GPL v3, but at the moment it's still a work in progress. We'll continue that discussion internally when v3 has been released. </p> <h3> Are you happy about GPL v3's progress? </h3> <p> We're actually pretty positive about it. The direction that is taken, the process -- it's a good process, and we're involved in it ourselves. And v3 is becoming a pretty good license - we have no issues with its current state. </p> <h3> [Java application server] Glassfish is another major contribution to FOSS. Some people see it as an attempt to gain back some market share from JBoss or IBM, BEA...? </h3> <p> To answer this completely, I first have to sketch some perspective here. </p> <p> There are two different aspects of a project to consider. One is the source code and the community around it, and the other is the competitive market in which it is being commercialized. </p> <p> Glassfish is a J2EE container, and it had been available under the CDDL before. And now, we've announced it will also be available under the GPL v2. </p> <p> We're definitely not freeing it because that would gain us some market share. Glassfish was already <em>being</em> used to gain market share: we've been selling it as Sun Java System Application Server for a very long time.<br /> That decision is just another step to ensure that the whole of Java - ME, SE, EE - is available to all GNU/Linux users, without any license questions whatsoever. </p> <p> We've opened it up because that fits into our mission to free all Sun software... And the only thing that's holding us back right now are legal issues with our partners.<br /> And here I must come back to my motivation for giving the keynote; why am I coming to FOSDEM. I come to highlight the philosophy that Sun has on software, and software freedom. </p> <p> We strongly believe that we're evolving to a world where all software, except the upper most leading edge of the market, is developed collaboratively. </p> <p> And in fact, if you look at JBoss - which is owned by Red Hat - they are already sharing some code with Glassfish. This is a nice example where two companies compete in the marketplace, but cooperate in the community. </p> <p> We're very determined to free software. And we're taking this beyond software, too. We've freed our chip design [ed's note: see <a href="">OpenSparc</a>], so that you can now for the first time, buy a machine that is free from the silicon upward. </p> <p> Now, this doesn't mean we're distributing free computers... but in that regard, we do donate hardware to organizations such as Debian, Gnome and other projects - and we're happy to consider others. </p> <p> In the future, you'll see Sun even extending its support for free software. </p> <h3> Are you planning to open up all the hardware knowledge of Sun? How is this compatible with being a high-end hardware manufacturer? </h3> <p> Opening up _all_ the hardware stuff is difficult because many of our hardware partners are reluctant about trade secrets. For example, we still don't have free drivers for our video chips. It will be interesting to see whether Intel is going to release free drivers for the discrete graphics chips that have just been announced. </p> <p> In response to the argument that anyone could just copy our hardware designs, I can only answer with an anecdote. Do you know the joke of the plumber and the washing machine? [not really --ed] </p> <blockquote> <p> There's this guy whose washing machine is broken, and het calls in the plumber. The plumber comes over, looks at the washing machine for fifteen minutes, and gives it a kick. And suddenly it's fixed.<br /> He then charges $150 and the customer is outraged... That's hundred-and-fifty bucks just for kicking the washing machine! To which the plumber answers: I charge $20 for kicking it and $130 for knowing just how to kick. </p> </blockquote> <p> Sun is a bit like that plumber - the amount of know-how that we have is significant. And opening up all the platforms that we have is not the same as giving away all our knowledge. There will always be some stuff about our work that's ours, which we won't share - like for example how to manufacture high-performance processors. </p> <h3> A sensitive issue in this regard are software patents... What is Sun's position on this? </h3> <p> Our position is clear: software patents are an outright threat to free software.<br /> On the other hand, we are currently still applying for such patents, for the same reason that one needs a gun when everyone else is running around with guns. </p> <p> We worked extensively in Europe last year, in collaboration with Mark Webbink from Red Hat, to lobby and inform the policy makers. And we've been able to prevent software patents from being introduced there. </p> <p> The strategy that we follow now, you could describe it in three points: First, pursue a patent reform in the US. Second, prevent the introduction of software patents in the EU. And third, accumulate and use software patents for the good cause where they are still allowed. </p> <h3> Such a patent reform is much debated. Do you have a vision about how exactly that could be done? </h3> <p> It's a very complex subject and it would lead too far to discuss it here in depth. But I can tell you that yes, we are talking about that. </p> <p> We have a clear vision on it and are actively working to make it happen. </p> <h3> When contacting you, we noticed your schedule is quite full... What kind of work activities make up a typical day (like today) for you? </h3> <p> Well, today I did a lot of press interviews. The attention for the report by the European Union on <a href="">FLOSS economics</a> has been very high. </p> <p> My dat-to-day role is to lead a group of people who engage in the free software community. So a lot of my time goes to the staff; looking after the people. </p> <p> Today, I've also been busy with the release of the <a href="">ODF Toolkit</a>. [ed's note: this interview was taken over the phone on 2007-01-23] </p> <p> On the longer term, we're thinking a lot about the opening-up of middleware, which is a very hard issue. </p> <p> My job also involves giving advice to the business groups at Sun; to help them choose a direction. So that involves a lot of talking on the phone to various people. </p> <p> And there is the public speaking of course, like I will do at FOSDEM. Next week I'll be in Sweden, and then I'm off to the USA. I'll be in Limerick for <a href="">SkyCon</a>, and then comes FOSDEM, after which I'm off to Hamburg and then Berlin for the OpenSolaris conference. </p> <h3> That's a busy schedule all right. We look forward to your keynote! </h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Simon's blog: The Mink Dimension</a></li> <li><a href="">Sunsource</a></li> <li><a href="">Free and Open Source Java</a></li> <li><a href=" GlassFish">GlassFish</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 22:23:33 +0100 floris 69 at Interview: Jeremy Allison <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/jeremy+allison"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-34-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> Samba has been around for a very long time, and it has become one of the most important projects in the FOSS world. At FOSDEM 2007 you can learn all about Samba3, Samba4 and the outlook for the coming years from none less than Jeremy Allison. </p> <h3> What do you hope to accomplish by talking about Samba? </h3> <p> Hopefully to entertain people :-). I'd also like to get people enthusiastic about hacking on Samba. It really is a very important project to help Linux be interoperable with Windows. </p> <h3> We vaguely remember reading a quote of Andrew Tridgell where he said that in the end, <a href="">rsync</a> (the protocol) would prove to be much more important than samba. Do you share this view? :-) </h3> <p> Probably so.... Andrew is usually right :-). </p> <h3> Probably several millions of devices have shipped with Samba functionality. How does that make you feel? </h3> <p> I don't think much about it one way or another. The problem for me is that they're always using an old version of Samba and Samba to me is perpetually broken as we're always fixing bugs :-). I'm just thankful they work at all :-). </p> <h3> Apart from the bugs... What are Samba's main strengths compared to Microsoft's offerings -- other than the license and cross-platform benefits? </h3> <p> We're faster and more robust against failures. Plus we're infinitely configurable - if you want to do anything out of the ordinary you need to use Samba to do it. </p> <h3> Do you feel Samba has been beneficial in any way to Microsoft? </h3> <p> A Microsoft employee wanted to get Microsoft to support Samba on other platforms. I thought that was a great idea but it never flew. Samba has certainly allowed Microsoft networks to be viewed as "interoperable" in a way they really shouldn't be :-). </p> <h3> You've described SMB as a "not very clean" protocol (to put it mildly). Which protocol is "nicer" or better for network file access? </h3> <p> Maybe it's [my] old age but I'm getting fonder of CIFS/SMB as I hack on it. With the UNIX extensions (which I'll cover in my talk) it's becoming a useful protocol for UNIX to UNIX file sharing. </p> <h3> What's the status of Samba version 4 currently? </h3> <p> Samba4 is our "research" branch of the code, to allow us to test out new technologies. It's going well. </p> <h3> We understand that Samba4 has an LDAP store. What's the advantage over a separate LDAP component? </h3> <p> That's a sore point :-). I was never a fan of that decision, but I understand why it was done. It's necessary to discover what is needed to serve as an AD LDAP server, but personally I'd rather [have] OpenLDAP look after that code in the long run. </p> <h3> How is your time spread between Samba 4, and the existing Samba 3? </h3> <p> I mainly add torture tests to Samba4 and then back-port Samba4 code to Samba3 which is the production release. </p> <h3> And how many people are working on samba professionaly? </h3> <p> Around 10 or so. </p> <h3> Not bad... Speaking of professions -- how's life at Google? </h3> <p> Fun and interesting. Life inside is very different from the way it's perceived outside :-). All the publicity makes Google look like a vacation resort, but actually it's full of people working very, very hard :-). </p> <h3> Fun, interesting, hard work... That sounds a bit like FOSDEM then :-) </h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Samba</a></li> <li><a href="">Jeremy's homepage</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 22:22:00 +0100 floris 57 at Interview: Keith Packard <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/keith+packard"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-40-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> Keith packard is a long-time X11 hacker, and currently works at Intel. He is the project leader to </p> <h3> What's the goal of your talk at FOSDEM 2007? </h3> <p> I'm hoping to give current X developers some exposure to the larger community as well as encouraging new developers to come join in the fun. </p> <h3> You have been at FOSDEM before, right? </h3> <p> Yes, I've been to FOSDEM several times before and always find the conference stimulating and fun. </p> <h3> So do we :-)<br /> Do you plan to get some hacking done during the conference? </h3> <p> I'm hoping to spend most of my time meeting with other developers and enjoying their company. </p> <h3> How far off is the future where requires no configuration at all? What about hot-plugging of devices? </h3> <p> 7.2 has made some improvements in this area already, with the ability to actually use EDID data from monitors to detect preferred modes. The RandR 1.2 work has improved on that so that we can automatically configure multiple monitors with sensible defaults. On the input side, the Xinput hot-plug work has resulted in a restructuring of the input system so that HAL can now manage the input devices used by the X server. </p> <p> Most systems should now be able to function without any configuration file at all, the largest issue at this point is that the presence of a configuration file disables much of the automatic mechanisms. </p> <p> With the new Xinput work and RandR 1.2, we'll be able to hot-plug input devices and monitors. What we're still missing is the ability to hot-plug video cards; that looks to be a significant challenge given the current X server architecture. </p> <h3> And beyond that work -- how will evolve in the future? </h3> <p> Of course, the real answer is 'in whatever way people choose to change it', and I am only one of many people interested in what changes still remain necessary. For my own part, I hope to help release a new version of the server in a few months incorporating some new acceleration code along with the RandR 1.2 changes. After that, I still need to figure out how to deal with mouse coordinate transformations and polygon rasterization issues. </p> <h3> Polygons, tha't 3D-related then. How do you feel about the introduction of accelerated OpenGL to window managers? </h3> <p> I think it shows off the capabilities of the system in new and exciting ways. While we continue to encourage most applications to use the basic 2D drawing operations to ensure the widest possible portability, the addition of 3D effects to the desktop offers an opportunity to explore new desktop management styles while providing people with an eye to 3D graphics a better outlet than screen savers to show their work. </p> <h3> Do you think that in the future, an even larger part of the graphics processing could be accelerated in hardware? </h3> <p> At this point, the core X and GL APIs can be entirely accelerated by hardware. We've got some work to do in moving up the stack, especially related to media presentation, including full H.264 encoding and even video display improvements of the sort currently implemented entirely with the CPU by free software media players. </p> <h3> Considering the graphics drivers... Do you think that Intel's positive attitude toward open source drivers could influence other manufacturers as well? </h3> <p> I certainly hope so. The overall X architecture improves best when developers working on multiple platforms come together to develop solutions. We work very hard to avoid creating standards based on a single architecture, and having several key manufacturers not fully engaged in this process often makes development more difficult. </p> <p> One of my key reasons for joining Intel was to continue to push for better support for free software from Intel and to use that to try and encourage other vendors to do the same. </p> <h3> Thank you for these insights. </h3> <p> Thanks for inviting me back to Fosdem this year; I'm looking forward to another fun weekend in Brussels. </p> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li> <a href="">Keith's website</a> </li> <li> <a href="">Keith's blog</a> </li> <li> <a href="">Keith on Wikipedia</a> </li> <li> <a href=""></a> </li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 22:21:30 +0100 floris 52 at Interview: Miguel de Icaza <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/miguel+de+icaza"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-30-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> Miguel De Icaza was one of the founders of Gnome, and started the Mono project. In 2002 he spoke at FOSDEM, when he was still leading Ximian and Mono was just started. </p> <h3> What's your goal for this edition? </h3> <p> Transmit the excitement that we have for Mono as a developer platform to other fellow open source developers. </p> <h3> You've done that before at FOSDEM... How was that experience? </h3> <p> Well, things have changed a lot. </p> <p> In the FOSDEM 2002 presentation the project was in its early stages: we had a self-hosting C# compiler running on Windows, we had our just-in-time compiler running some basics (the compiler could only process 75% of the tests we had created at the time), and we had just finished the first pass at the underlying I/O and socket infrastructure. </p> <p> At the time Mono still required Windows to be developed, we were a tiny project with only a handful of people working on it. </p> <p> So five years later things have changed dramatically, we have created a multi-platform optimizing JIT compiler, we shipped C#, JavaScript and Visual Basic compilers, we launched two major releases of our Gtk# API that opened the doors to hundreds of Mono-based applications for the Gnome desktop, and we completed both ASP.NET and Windows.Forms which have allowed us to help developers support the Linux platform from their same [Windows-based] code base. </p> <p> Many Mono-based applications are now shipping with all major distributions and developers that would have never considered Linux are now routinely porting their applications to Linux and Mac OS. </p> <h3> How does the future of Mono look like, even beyond .NET 2.0 compatibility? </h3> <p> Our strategy is to first complete the 2.0 support because that is what shipping applications today are using and there are thousands of those (we have received more than a thousand application reports using our Migration analyzer). It took about a year for developers to transition from 1.0 to 2.0 (it was an incremental upgrade, so the transition was very simple). </p> <p> 3.0 is a bit more disruptive. For example, to take advantage of the new GUI API, its best if applications are rewritten, and the same applies to the Workflow and communication APIs. So we believe that applications that require these APIs will take a bit longer to hit the market, which buys us time. </p> <p> So in the short term: we are focusing on shipping a great 2.0. </p> <h5> Mono and .NET 2.0: </h5> <p> Our core (runtime, compilers, XML, XPath and ASP.NET) are pretty much complete at this point. We still have plenty of work to do to round up the sharp edges, but we are in a great position. </p> <p> Windows.Forms 2.0 is a work-in-progress. The team has implemented the most "urgent" features, but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area (bind Mozilla to expose the WebControl for example, complete auto-sizing). </p> <h5> Mono and .NET 3.0: </h5> <p> .NET 3.0 is actually not an upgrade to .NET, .NET 3.0 is just a series of libraries that run on top of .NET 2.0, there was no update of the core libraries, the compilers or the runtime. </p> <p> The 3.0 stack consists of: a new RPC system (Communications Foundation), a new GUI API (Presentation Foundation), a new server-side Workflow engine (Workflow foundation) and a platform for authentication (Cardspace/Infocard). </p> <p> We have started work on the Communication Foundation as well as the Cardspace/Infocard stack, and we recently were able to send our first WS-Security encrypted message from Mono's implementation to Windows's Communication Foundation implementation. </p> <p> <a href="">Jordi Mas</a> started the work on Workflow Foundation, but he is now a full time developer at a Catalonian startup and this effort has been paused. </p> <p> The GUI components are probably the most exciting ones, some bits and pieces exist, but we have not officially started work on this. </p> <h5> Mono and 3.5: </h5> <p> 3.5 is the name of another add-on to .NET 2.0 and it is being showcased in the Visual Studio "Orcas" preview. </p> <p> The most important bit in this area are the new changes to the C# language to implement Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and the support libraries required by LINQ for its various backends (LINQ, LINQ to XML, LINQ to Databases). </p> <p> The compiler bits will probably take six to nine months, the libraries will probably take a year to develop (although some pieces have already been contributed). </p> <h3> What do you think is more important: a good development platform, or making sure that there are some 'killer applications' to run on it? </h3> <p> A good developer platform. </p> <p> You need your developer platform to be solid, robust, feature complete, be open to new ideas, be a good foundation for innovation, having a platform that helps you, not a platform that gets in your way. </p> <p> You want your development platform to be strong when it comes to interoperability: call into native libraries, reuse native libraries, reuse code written in multiple languages, have your platform take the boring, the repetitive and the complexity out of the equation. </p> <p> If you have a good platform, applications will follow, and hopefully those applications will be great applications on each of their domains. </p> <p> In the end, you want to make sure that developers using the platform are having a fun time and enjoying themselves. </p> <p> I like to think that we have some moderate success in that area, and I also like to think that there is a lot more that we can do. </p> <h3> What is your daily role inside Novell exactly? </h3> <p> I run the Mono project engineering and make sure that we have the features that our users request. I work towards creating a roadmap, working with third parties (commercial ISVs, components vendors, software integrators) and working with Novell internal users (both developers and Novell customers) to make sure that their applications will run with Mono. </p> <p> Since Windows is the dominant software platform and .NET was a much-needed upgrade to the Windows developer experience, the migration to .NET has been impressive. Everywhere we look there are .NET applications for all kinds of vertical markets, and we want to make sure that all of those applications can be run successfully on Unix. </p> <p> With Mono maturing its Windows.Forms implementation we have been able to expand our reach with ISVs and vertical software developers and it has opened up many new opportunities. </p> <h3> The Novell/Microsoft agreement generated some heated discussions on the internet. Did the "average Linux developer" (if such a person would exist), in your opinion, react equally hostile? </h3> <p> I think there were various stages of responses to the agreement. When the initial announcement was made, when questions were asked, when questions were answered, there was clearly a transformation on the position as information came to light. </p> <p> A lot of people did not like the agreement, and I can understand why, and it's possible that a better agreement could have been negotiated. We have taken some of the feedback from the community and we are still trying to get Microsoft to improve some of the terms for the community (like the open source developer covenant). We will have to wait and see where those things go. </p> <p> I have been advocating approaching Microsoft and improving the open source/Microsoft relationship for years as opposed to taking a combative stance towards them. Basically, I'm a believer that you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar and that pointless confrontation is useless. </p> <p> The most painful thing to watch was the self-inflicted pain that came out from some quarters in the community. There are grounds to like or dislike the agreement, and these could have been clearly articulated without resorting to fear, uncertainty and doubt. </p> <p> Some of the arguments put against the Microsoft/Novell agreement or against Novell were sadly based on FUD or self-flagellation. At the height of the rhetoric I remembered the Mexican phrase "the more I understand humanity, the more I like my dog". </p> <h3> Will yourt talk include such "political" topics or do you want to keep it more technical? </h3> <p> My plan was to talk about Mono and technology; that is where my passion is. But if there is interest, I would not mind doing a separate Q&A session regarding the agreement, hosting a BOF or discussing it over onion soup in downtown Brussels. </p> <h3>We suggest some <a href="">Belgian beer</a>!</h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Miguel's blog</a></li> <li><a href="">Mono</a></li> <li><a href="">Mono Migration Analyzer</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 22:19:23 +0100 floris 62 at Interview: Paul Everitt <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/paul+everitt"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-45-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> Paul Everitt is one of the leading people in the Plon and Zope communities. Zope is a Python web application framework, and Plone is a content management system (CMS) built on top of it. At FOSDEM 2007, Paul will present Plone 3. </p> <h3> What's your plan for your FOSDEM talk? </h3> <p> I'm always sympathetic to the audience. If I was listening, what would I want from a talk? Would I get bored? </p> <p> I want developers to walk out knowing the 3 things that might make them interested in Plone 3, along with the specific first steps to get started. I don't need to show a thousand points of details or 30 slides of theory. </p> <h3> What's your opinion about the "ecomic impact of FLOSS" <a href="">report </a> by the EC? </h3> <p> Zea Partners is a non-profit business partner network of the people involved in building Plone and Zope. We have participated in some of the EC projects that interoperate with the FLOSS studies and were specifically mentioned. </p> <p> As such, we have a particular voice on this subject: small business and independent contractors. I'm happy to see things in the report such as "Almost two-thirds of FLOSS software is still written by individuals; firms contribute about 15% and other institutions another 20%." and policy strategies of "Encourage partnerships between large firms, SMEs and the FLOSS community". </p> <h3> You're involved in both Zope and Plone. Does that lead to conflicts of interest sometimes? </h3> <p> Not at all. Plone is a CMS application, built atop the Zope application server. Zope is written in Python. Thus, supporting Plone means supporting Zope and Python. All layers in a stack. </p> <h3> Are the two projects heavily related? </h3> <p> The Plone core team participates in Zope development and provides a large portion of new Zope users each year. Also, Plone-based companies have funded some initiatives in the core of Zope. At the same time, more needs to be done to move Plone work down the stack into Zope, or even Python, where possible. </p> <h3> What is planned for Plone 3.0? </h3> <p> Jon Stahl, the organizer of Plone Conference 2006, wrote <a href="">a nice tour of the features</a>. In summary: inline Ajax, versioning/staging, portlets, wiki-style linking, and link checking. Under the hood, [there is] more of a push to use the component architecture of Zope 3, as well as improved support for Python packaging. </p> <h3> And how is Zope going to change in the future? </h3> <p> As background, Zope spent time from 2002 through now on a major new version named Zope 3, which focused on a vastly improved programming architecture. Many of the things Zope 2 did right were improved, but many things that developers complained about were also rethought. This effort has reached maturity now, with 3 upgrade releases (Zope 3.3 is the current) and 2 books, one of which was just released in its second edition. </p> <p> The effort now is on <em>doing</em> things with Zope 3. First and foremost, getting Zope 2 and Zope 3 to converge. This has been happening since the Zope 2.8 release and is really picking up momentum now. As Zope-based projects such as Plone start to depend more on this integration, Zope 3 technologies will become the norm. </p> <p> Additionally, there are efforts to scale Zope 3 down, making it easier for developers to get started. There is a project called Grok that aims to make the first 10 minutes of Zope 3 as effective and fun as possible. </p> <h3> The lower part of the Plone/Zope/Python stack, Python, is not (yet) as mainstream a language as PHP is. Do you feel this is a burden, or does it also have advantages? </h3> <p> They are both mainstream languages. PHP certainly has an order of magnitude more users, but Python definitely passed the tipping point years ago. Amongst people that just want to get a series of dynamic pages on the web, PHP owns that market. However, when writing a larger-scale project, and certainly when making a platform such as a CMS, the choices are more even. </p> <p> Thus, I view it as an advantage. The Zope and Plone world, as applications written in Python, want to appeal to a certain audience. That audience appreciates the balance of power and elegance that we feel Python provides. </p> <p> PHP, Python, and others are all popular, and will never eliminate each other, simply because different people like different approaches and have different needs. </p> <h3> What do you like most about Python? </h3> <p> Everything is so immediately obvious and natural. It fits my brain. It also, though, scales up (in formalism and performance) to larger-sized projects. Thus, someone like me, on the low end of the skill level, can co-exist on a project with all the smart people. </p> <h3> What are the main activities of ZEA partners? </h3> <p> We are involved with several European projects, bringing our voice as a collection of small businesses that create FLOSS. We are also involved in other non-development activities, such as working together on tender responses, giving the company founders a place to swap experience with others, and similar activities. </p> <h3> In your experience, does the open source world has any similarities with the military? </h3> <p> I was a military officer in the early 90's, so it's a particularly appropriate question. I went from the Navy directly into Python and the Web. </p> <p> With that said, my experience (combined with my crummy developer skills) made me an oddball. In the Navy you had individual accountability. Specifically, at the junior officer level, you had enough coercive control to force, or push someone to be accountable for the result. </p> <p> In open source you have group accountability. And you can't push, you have to pull. On one hand, "getting things done" can't be dictated. On the other, there is still a role for following up and keeping things moving. Getting that balance, and achieving group accountability in the culture of a project, is one thing that separates a young project from one that is mature. </p> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Paul's blog: Zope dispatches</a></li> <li><a href="">Zope</a></li> <li><a href="">Plone</a></li> <li><a href="">Zea Partners</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 22:18:22 +0100 floris 59 at Last interviews: start the countdown Only sevens days left until FOSDEM 2007... Time to read up on our last speakers: <a href="/2007/interview/simon+phipps">Simon Phipps</a> on Java and free software, <a href="/2007/interview/jeremy+allison">Jeremy Allison</a> about Samba 4, <a href="/2007/interview/keith+packard">Keith Packard</a> on, <a href="/2007/interview/miguel+de+icaza">Miguel De Icaza</a> about Mono, <a href="">Paul Everitt</a> about Plone and Zope, and <a href="/2007/interview/pete+herzog">Pete Herzog</a> on the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual. Speakers Fri, 16 Feb 2007 21:52:20 +0100 floris 70 at Interview: Joe Hewitt <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/joe+hewitt"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-36-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> We have good and bad news. The bad: Joe Hewitt wil <em>not</em> attend FOSDEM 2007. The good news: Firebug 1.0 stable is released. That's why we didn't want to keep back this interview from you. It was performed at the time when Joe was right in the middle of the release process for Firebug 1.0 - his versatile web developer's tool. </p> <p> We also took the opportunity to poke Joe for some info on Parakey, his all-secret software company. </p> <h3> What did you plan to talk about at FOSDEM? </h3> <p> I wanted to talk briefly about the philosophies that drove Firebug's development and then run through a series of mini-tutorials that illustrate how to get the most out of Firebug. </p> <h3> Firebug is useful for hunting (JavaScript) bugs, but it does much more than that. Do you feel the name still matches the app? </h3> <p> The name wasn't meant to be taken literally, any more than Firefox was meant to be the name of a tool for igniting furry red canines. </p> <p> While it's true that the first few version of Firebug were very JavaScript-oriented, it was always my plan to support all facets of web development. </p> <h3> How does the community around Firebug look like currently? </h3> <p> The community is still taking shape. I'm seeing certain names appear more and more frequently in the Firebug forums, and it's exciting to imagine some of those people making larger and larger contributions over time. </p> <p> Some companies have been investing serious time integrating their tools with Firebug. Both <a href="<> ">Yahoo</a> and <a href="">Aptana</a> have some products in the works which will integrate nicely with Firebug. Many of the popular JavaScript frameworks like <a href="">Dojo</a>, <a href="">jQuery</a>, <a href="">YUI</a>, and <a href="">MochiKit</a> use Firebug's logging feature for their built-in debugging facilities. </p> <h3> You've considered making Firebug a commercial product, but in the end you didn't. What changed your mind? And -- how are the donations going? </h3> <p> The state of web development tools is awful, and the quality of the web itself reflects that. I like money as much as the next guy, but what I really want is a more usable, better performing web. I decided to make Firebug free so that every web developer on Earth has easy access to information they can use to make better websites. </p> <p> Donations have been ok. I'm hoping that soon they add up to enough [to] cover a summer intern to come in and work on some of the most requested features. </p> <h3> Did you get any assistance from with regard to promoting Firebug? </h3> <p> Mozilla has been very supportive of Firebug. On the day they added Firebug to the list of recommended extensions on <a href=""></a>, downloads more than quadrupled and have not dropped since. </p> <h3> Do you have a vision for "Firebug 2.0"? Is there a "grand plan"? </h3> <p> There is definitely a vision for Firebug 2.0. The theme of the next version will be extensibility. Firebug 1.0 lets people debug the aspects of a web page that are common to everyone, but Firebug 2.0 will let people debug aspects that may be specific to their application or a particular web framework. </p> <p> For instance, 2.0 will allow pages to add their own tabs and buttons to the interface and to parse and format data from network requests. It will also allow debugging of original JavaScript source files that have been compiled using systems like <a href="">OpenLaszlo</a>. </p> <h3> To ease the pain of missing your talk, can you reveal something about <a href="">Parakey</a> for FOSDEM? </h3> <p> I wish I could, but it's still a little too early. </p> <h3> Maybe next year? :-( </h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Firebug</a></li> <li><a href="">Joe's homepage / blog</a></li> <li><a href="">Firebug development blog</a></li> <li><a href="">Parakey</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Tue, 13 Feb 2007 14:37:14 +0100 floris 42 at Interview: Tom Baeyens <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/tom+baeyens"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-24-128x128.jpg" /></a> <h3> What's your motivation to speak at FOSDEM 2007?</h3> <p> My talk will be an attempt to show the value of BPM [Business Process Modelling] and workflow technology to developers. Managers are easily persuaded by BPM technology, because BPM is based on graphical diagrams that managers can understand. Developers are much more sceptical since they see much more alternatives to write this kind of software. Because of the work we have done with JBoss jBPM, we know the trade-offs and alternatives. </p> <h3> We imagine they are positive, but what are your feelings about Sun opening up its JVM ? What do you think will be the impact on the FOSS developer community? </h3> <p> This is the next level of adoption of Java. The OS will loose a bit of its importance in favour of the Java abstraction. The more ubiquitous Java desktop applications become the less difference there will be between Windows, Mac and Linux. </p> <h3> Is the lack of an all-encompassing standard (JSR) for workflow management engines a hurdle ? </h3> <p> Definitely. It's important to know that there is no such standard because there is no consensus whatsoever in the workflow and BPM market. Different approaches, different focus and different environments lead to a completely fragmented market. All vendors see BPM or workflow as a big set of features but in fact, all of these technologies are just use cases of a state machine. Standardization should focus more on the bare bones state machine level versus only on the application level. </p> <p> Take <a href="">BPEL</a>, for instance. BPEL is a state machine language to script new web services as a function of other web services. That is a good application of state machines but it is just one. Regrettably, marketing behind these standards has succeeded in coupling this technology to BPM. Since the association between BPM and BPEL is known at CIO level, many BPM projects today fail. Those experiences are starting to ripple through. Reporters and people at CIO level start to realize that BPEL is a good language for service orchestration, but not for managing business processes. </p> <p> In the next two years, we'll see a shift towards <a href="">BPMN</a> and <a href="">XPDL</a>. These standards will increasingly get more focus. Because they serve the goal of BPM much better. </p> <p> Also in Java, I would really like to see a standard that focuses on the state machine level. The added value of such a standard would be that a lot of developers would get common mindshare about BPM and workflow technology. Just like with relational databases, when people know what it is and when to use it, the technology as a whole becomes a lot more valuable. </p> <h3> What are the major assets of JBoss' JBPM implementation besides being free? </h3> <p> A multi process language strategy. In fact, I think that strategy is even more important to our success then being open source. We have one base technology for implementing state machines. Each process language is just a specific way of describing state machines. So we can support many process languages on top of the same core jBPM technology. </p> <p> Embededdability. Our engine is really embeddable into every Java environment. You can use it as a standalone product, but you can also take the engine library and embed it into any type of Java application. We have really managed external dependencies very well so that you only need to include libraries that you actually use. Even persistence of process executions is optional so that you can get ultimate performance in case that feature is not needed. </p> <h3> Given the strong position and wide use of open source containers and frameworks of all sorts, combined with the strong standardization around Java, do you think the market proprietary businesses in that area will shrink? </h3> <p> Whether it's open source or not doesn't really matter to most of the consumers. They just look for the products and frameworks that do the trick for them. It's more of a development and business model. Each company has to decide which model works best for them. In recent years, open source has proven itself as a viable strategy to build scalable businesses that can be very disruptive. But building scalable businesses on top of open source software is not trivial to say the least. The dynamics are completely different from traditional closed source development. It's a matter of knowing and leveraging those dynamics in an appropriate way. While the whole software industry is moving towards open source, only a handful of the companies really know the basics of those dynamics. The good thing is that all this focus on open source business will lead to steep learning curves from a business perspective. And over the next 2 to 5 years we'll see these pioneering practices being replaced with proven business models. </p> <h3> Is there a lot of code contribution from non-JBoss/Red Hat employees to the JBoss JBPM project? </h3> <p> Yes. A big contribution is done by the community in QA. They report the vast majority of problems in ease-of-use, documentation and implementation. Secondly, we have a very lively community where people share their insights and help each other to get started with jBPM. We hire from our community. So there is a natural tendency for non-JBoss/Red Hat community members to dry out. </p> <p> The bulk of the core software is written by JBoss employees. Once and a while people will actually make significant contributions. Also collaboration with other companies like e.g. Bull is now starting to result in joint development of the next generation BPM engine. </p> <h3> What are the current goals for the next release of JBoss JBPM? </h3> <p> The 3.x releases of the jPDL language will focus on more integration and more out-of-the-box features. E.g. jBPM jPDL 3.2 adds email support and improved support for enterprise environments. Also, the BPEL engine GA release based on jBPM is imminent. </p> <p> For the next generation 4.0, we are working on real pluggability of node types. Which means that it will be child's play to add custom nodes. Also we'll be able to support multiple process languages on top of the same database schema. </p> <h3> And what is the somewhat longer term vision for JBoss JBPM? </h3> <p> I think that the jBPM technology has potential to create mindshare around BPM similar to the relational model in the database world. When someone mentions "This is a relational DB.", instantly you think of tables, columns, primary and foreign keys, join queries and so on. An analogue generic model and mindshare is necessary in the BPM world and I'm convinced that jBPM has got the foundations and potential to realize that goal. </p> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">JBoss</a></li> <li><a href="">JBoss jBPM</a></li> <li><a href="">Presentation: Workflow, BPM, and Java Technology</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Tue, 13 Feb 2007 14:27:29 +0100 floris 63 at Interview: H. D. Moore <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/h+d+moore"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-28-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> H. D. Moore is the creator of the Metasploit security exploit framework, and is one of the people behind Brower Fun, which became notorious for their "month of browser bugs". </p> <p> Mister Moore will present his project, and the latest version of the accompanying framework. He will discuss the lessons learned since the start of the project. </p> <h3>What's the goal of your talk?</h3> <p> I hope to encourage attendees to try the Metasploit Framework and expand their interest in exploits and security. I expect an interesting discussion about open-source licensing, vulnerability disclosure, and the future of exploit development. </p> <h3>We understand that you're pro "full disclosure" regarding vulnerability reports?</h3> <p> I believe in sharing detailed vulnerability information and exploit code whenever possible. This information is essential to security software developers and providers of security services. Full disclosure shares many core values and benefits with the open-source software model. </p> <h3>Some of your actions have received quite some press coverage in the past. Do you actively seek that media attention?</h3> <p> A relationship with the media is critical when you have no marketing budget. I work with the media to increase public awareness of the Metasploit Project and ensure the accuracy of any articles that cover the projects I work on. The end result is a well-informed public and increased growth of the Metasploit user base. Besides, its fun :-) </p> <h3>In the coming years, do you see IT security increasing or worsening?</h3> <p> Vulnerabilities just keep piling on, they never go away. The body of knowledge required to identify and remediate security issues is going to keep increasing until old systems are replaced. Windows NT 4.0 is no longer supported by Microsoft and can be compromised with an off-the-shell exploit, yet many companies still have NT servers. The mantra of "keeping your systems patched" doesn't work when the commercial entity that sold you the system stops supporting it. </p> <p> Microsoft has dropped support for Windows XP SP0 and SP1 (as of October 2006), even though many of its customers have not moved to SP2. The addition of the Windows Genuine Advantage checks in SP2 will prevent many users from receiving security updates. The end result -- thousands of XP desktops that will stay vulnerable until replaced. </p> <p> This trend applies to open-source software as well. Although the open-source model allows anyone to apply their own security fixes to a piece of software, not many users have the time or experience to do so. The result is that the project maintainer (and downstream maintainers for various distributions) are solely responsible for the security fixes of that product. </p> <p> Hundreds (thousands?) of companies are using embedded Linux in their products. What happens when these companies go out of business or stop providing updates for their products? Even if a volunteer effort is created to produce patched firmware and new packages, there is a slim chance that your average consumer will be able to find and apply the updates. This trend is especially common with printers, scanners, and other networked office devices. Many vendors only release updated firmware for new device models, leaving security flaws unpatched. As an example, some versions of the Busybox application contain a HTTP server that is vulnerable to a directory traversal attack. An advisory was released in September of 2006, but very few product vendors released an updated firmware image containing this new release. The results -- an unkown number of products that suffer from a serious information leak, one that can easily lead to a complete compromise of the device. </p> <p> In summary, I believe that the challenges of IT security will continue to increase, even if the operating systems and applications drastically improve. </p> <h3>To counter this -- which current trends are actually beneficial to IT security?</h3> <p> Automated updated systems are becoming common for not only commercial products, but open source applications as well. These systems provide an excellent way for vendors to distribute in a timely and consistent manner. The Mozilla Firefox browser is a great example of a product that protects its users via an auto-update mechanism. </p> <h3>What plans are in store for the Open Source Vulnerability Database?</h3> <p> You would have to ask the maintainers of this project, I provide advice when I can, but I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of the project. </p> <h3>How is the contact with the 'script kiddie' "community"?</h3> <p> Entertaining. Many security professionals used to be script kiddies and many script kiddies may end up becoming security professionals. I try to encourage education and suggest that they focus on the long-term benefits of having security experience. Not many companies will trust a person to secure their network if that person has a criminal record :-) </p> <h3>Keep on 1337-ing, and see you at FOSDEM!</h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Wikipedia about Mr. Moore</a></li> <li><a href="">The Metasploit framework</a></li> <li><a href="">Browser Fun, a security blog</a></li> <li><a href="">The Open Source Vulnerability Database</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> <!--Creative Commons License--><a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width: 0" src=""/></a><br/>This interview is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="">Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License</a>.<!--/Creative Commons License--><!-- <rdf:RDF xmlns="" xmlns:dc="" xmlns:rdf="" xmlns:rdfs=""> <Work rdf:about=""> <license rdf:resource="" /> <dc:type rdf:resource="" /> </Work> <License rdf:about=""><permits rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><requires rdf:resource=""/><permits rdf:resource=""/></License></rdf:RDF> --> </p> Speakers Tue, 13 Feb 2007 14:25:38 +0100 floris 31 at Interview: Georg Greve <a href="/2007/schedule/speakers/georg+greve"><img src="/2007/schedule/images/speaker-43-128x128.jpg" /></a> <p> As the President of the <a href="">Free Software Foundation Europe</a>, Georg Greve will be keynoting about the GPLv3 and beyond -- an outlook for the year in Free Software that lies ahead. </p> <h3> What's your plan for the FOSDEM keynote? </h3> <p> FOSDEM is the traditionally the first Free Software conference of the year. Since I will be giving the closing keynote the focus will be on the year that lies ahead. Of course that includes the GPLv3, but it also goes beyond it in various ways. The past months were truly exceptional: The Free Software community now finds itself in the center of drastic changes and it seems likely 2007 will see this trend continuing. So as a community we will have to make some decisions, and I will provide a view on where things may go. </p> <h3> The FSFE has been a strong supporter of FOSDEM... Have you attended before? </h3> <p> Yes, there has always been a good connection with FOSDEM, which is why the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) -- including myself -- has been at every single FOSDEM since 2002. </p> <h3> Could you give us an overview of how the FSFE has evolved since 2001? </h3> <p> In 2001 we started the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) as the first Free Software Foundation outside the United States, starting what we hoped would become a global network of sister organisations. </p> <p> Today we still have the original FSF in the United States, but we also have (in order of their founding) the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), the Free Software Foundation India (FSFI) and Free Software Foundation Latin America (FSFLA). </p> <p> All four FSFs form a global network of equal sister organisations that are legally, financially, personally and organisationally independent From each other, but share one spirit and goal, as well as close ties in their work. So the original ideal of the Free Software Foundation is stronger than ever and rests on many more shoulders around the world. </p> <p> As far as FSFE is concerned, we started in 2001 with a couple of volunteers and me investing my full time work into the organisation, initially without any form of payment. </p> <p> Today we have teams in more than ten countries, hundreds of volunteers contributing to the work in various ways, a European core team with almost thirty people coordinating our activities, six full-time and two part-time employees as well as up to two interns at any given moment. </p> <p> We have crossed blades with Microsoft in European Court where we continue to fight for the freedom of <a href="">Samba</a> to write interoperable software. We have been part of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, partially within the German governmental delegation. We have fought (and won) with our allies in the European software patent battle. </p> <p> If you wish to have an idea of the many things that have been done, feel free to take a look at the 2003 and 2005 executive summaries at<br /> &nbsp;<a href=""></a><br /> &nbsp;<a href=""></a> </p> <p> and our monthly newsletters at<br /> &nbsp;<a href=""></a> </p> <p> Also don't forget to take a look at the Fellowship of FSFE. During FOSDEM 2005 we announced the start of the Fellowship as a community for people who share an interest in various forms of freedom in the digital age. It allows to make the interest in these issues visible, contribute to FSFE's work, get active yourself, and find likeminded people. </p> <p> We are very happy about how this has worked out in many ways: people organise local Fellowship meetings and last year there was a global Fellowship meeting in Bolzano, Italy during which we started to discuss the beginning of a Fellowship Advocacy project. </p> <p> Through the Fellowship we've discovered people we might never have met otherwise, such as Shane Coughlan, our Freedom Task Force (FTF) coordinator. </p> <p> So during this year's FOSDEM the Fellowship will see its two-year anniversary, and so far it has only gotten better. I hope that everyone will join us at the next Fellowship meeting which will take place sometime later this year and meanwhile visit<br /> &nbsp;<a href=""></a> </p> <h3> What were, in your opinion, the most important evolutions around free software in 2006? </h3> <p> 2006 was a very important year for Free Software. </p> <p> There is of course the drafting of GPLv3 and all its conferences that has provided for quite a bit of discussion and will continue to shape and influence the Free Software community in 2007 and beyond. </p> <p> We've also seen the big hearing with 13 judges at the European Court in the Microsoft antitrust case. While the outcome still remains to be seen, this could be an important part of establishing a code of conduct that will help to limit lock-in and arbitrary modifications of protocols for the sake of monopolising new markets. </p> <p> The deal between Novell and Microsoft seems to be headed in the opposite direction, but was nonetheless an important event for Free Software in 2006. This is continued in the battle around OpenXML vs ODF as the existing international standard. </p> <p> And finally we see Sun making a bold move towards freedom with its announcement to GPL Java. While long-hoped for and expected eventually, this was certainly a highlight of 2006. </p> <h3> <a href="">Simon Phipps</a> from Sun Microsystems is also present at FOSDEM 2007. You're happy with the direction that Sun has taken? </h3> <p> Yes, I think Sun has gone through a remarkable evolution. </p> <p> They are on a very good track, and if Simon and I get the chance we should definitely have a beer together. </p> <h3> Are you personally involved in GPL v3? </h3> <p> I've been involved in the process since the planning stage, mostly in some of the coordination, motivating people to participate in the process and helping to explain what is going on and what isn't, because GPLv3 certainly saw a lot of mistaken reporting. </p> <p> FSFE also organised the third international conference on GPLv3 in Barcelona and I've participated in all but one of the international conferences as well as some local events. </p> <h3> There have been many (failed) attempts to get software patents included in European legislation. Will these efforts stop at some point, or is it a battle that will continue? </h3> <p> These efforts will only stop once certain major companies understand that software patents are detrimental to their business. This is unfortunately not to be expected so soon. So the battle will continue until we managed to remove the motivation for software patents. </p> <p> We're working on this at the United Nations as well as through our relationship with business. </p> <h3> What kind of skills does on need to influence political decisions? </h3> <p> I'd say the most important thing is not so much skill but determination. The software patent struggle has shown that people with little political experience but a lot of determination can bring about major change. So without determination and the will to take personal responsibility, there is no political change. </p> <p> But if people have that determination there are of course skills that help: Knowledge about the area you are working on is obviously very important, but if you cannot explain this in terms that a political audience understands, its use is quite limited. </p> <p> So being able to talk and write coherently in understandable and simple terms about your area is vital. Many people also underestimate social skills, but most human beings tend to make their personal decisions based on such "soft" factors more than hard facts. </p> <p> And you need to be able to deal with a lot of frustration, keep a cool head and exercise a lot of patience. The extreme case of this is the United Nations where you may have to spend days listening to things you disagree with or find outright scandalous until you find the right opening to place your message. Losing your temper at the wrong moment can destroy years of carefully constructed positions and agreements. </p> <p> Another reason why a calm head is important is that there is always another crisis, always another battle coming up. We have seen in the software patent battle that many very energetic and courageous people simply burnt out because they spent all their energy in a sprint to do this one thing, to prevent that one initiative. </p> <p> FSFE has always tried to avoid that. While the necessity for a sprint may exist occasionally, we see politics more like a series of marathons than a sprint. So we were always careful to do what we could, even stretch things painfully thin at some times, but always kept an eye on not destroying our substance so we would be stronger and not weaker when the next crisis hit. </p> <p> And one of the lessons to keep in mind is that while this one may seem more important than anything else, there will always be another crisis. </p> <p> And finally the ability to cooperate and communicate across various barriers is very important. There is strength in numbers and not everyone needs to do this work personally: By standing up and making themselves heard in support of groups and organisations, people can give additional strength and weight to the ones working in the trenches. </p> <p> That is one reason the anti-software patent coalition was able to swing the debate, and it is one reason why we ask everyone to join the Fellowship of FSFE. </p> <h3> You're a practitioner of <a href="">Aikido</a>. Is that a benefit in doing what you do? </h3> <p> Yes. Aikido teaches you many things, and for me it has helped me to understand myself and life much better. </p> <p> Among many things Aikido teaches you patience in pursuing improvement of yourself and the limits of strength and violence: In Aikido you seek to achieve a state of peace not only for yourself, but also for those around you, including people you may not like or that try to attack you. You don't allow yourself or others to be harmed, but you also don't seek destruction of an attacker. </p> <p> Aikido teaches you about avoiding overreactions, trying to stay calm in a situation where you're being attacked from many sides at the same time. It is also about posture and stance, and about how to deal with other people. </p> <p> That my work as president of FSFE leaves me too little time to train Aikido as much and as regularly as I would like to is probably my biggest regret about the past years.</p> <h3> We wish you a lot of practice then. Thanks! </h3> <hr /> <p> Additional links: <ul> <li><a href="">Free Software Foundation Europe</a></li> <li><a href="">Georg's homepage</a></li> <li><a href="">FSFE about Georg</a></li> <li><a href="">Georg's blog: Freedom bits</a></li> <li><a href="">George's blog: Digital Restrictions Management</a></li> </ul> </p> <p> This article is licensed under the <a href="">GNU Free Documentation License</a>:<br /> Copyright (c) 2007 FOSDEM asbl<br /> Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. </p> Speakers Tue, 13 Feb 2007 14:24:09 +0100 floris 67 at