Froscon 2013, a Mini Review

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Froscon, a weekend event held Bonn annually. This was the 2nd time Ive been able to attend but each time only on the 2nd day. Froscon is your typical Open Source event, with organised talks, a vendor area and an exhibition.

As  I was only able to attend the second day, I made sure I was there nice and early, so as not to miss anything. The standard ticket price is 5 Euros for the weekend, although there are other tarifs available. I planned to spend the morning section in a workshop and the rest of the day exploring the rest of the event. As I had arrived early, I decided to pop in and take a look at the Fedora booth and have a chat with the guys on the stand there. This year the Fedora booth was complete with a 3D printer, utilising the new 3D Printing Support in Fedora 19.

After checking out the Fedora booth, it was time for me to get over to the Workshop. The workshop was an introduction to Hadoop, run by a guy called Uwe Seiler from Codecentric. He had prepared a VM image for us to use during the workshop. It was available as a VMware image or a Virtual Box image.  While I has used to like Virtual Box I had recently removed it from my laptop. So I could either re-install it OR try and get it to work with KVM.

I started off just importing the .vmdk file and telling KVM that it was a vmdk file, but whileI did see grub, once the system started booting, I was getting lots of disk errors. I decided to convert the vmdk file to qcow2 using the following command

qemu-img convert -O qcow2 <sourcefilename>.vmdk <destinationFilename>.qcow2

Unfortunately this took the file from 2.4G to just over 7G but it did mean that it booted perfectly, with no errors. In retrospect, I realise that it was because I missed the compression option off. Doing the following, means the filesize stays as 2.4G

qemu-img convert  -c -O qcow2 <sourcefilename>.vmdk <destinationFilename>.qcow2

The image had been setup with some tutorials included, so you could work at your own pace and ask Uwe if you needed assistance.

After a couple of hours there I decided to go and investigate the exhibitors area a little more. One of the stands I walked past was the Piwik stand. I had run Piwik in the past but not for quite a while. I was impressed with how good it was looking these days, so I decided it was high time I installed it again. Now that I host my website in OpenShift I was wondering how I would be able to add Piwik. It turns out that someone has made an Open Shift Piwik application cartridge, so it was very simple to get a Piwik instance up and running.

Next I went to a talk in the Fedora room, about OpenScad. I hadent heard of it before but I was very quickly impressed with just how simple it was to use. Using it is like writing a bash script and you get instant results. There are some well documented examples over here

Next up I went to take a look at Freifunk which lets you, via alternate firmware on your router, setup up a mess network and offer free internet access to all. Its a great concept and I think mess is a very important next step in the evolution of networking, especially in light of recent revelations about wide scale internet snooping. At anytime you can see realtime stats of your local area – mine looks like this

The final talk for me was a quick overview of the new features/changes that will be in the next version of Fedora (Fedora 20). These are far too  numerous to list but can be found here.  I think Fedora 20 looks like being an excellent release

In other news, this weekend I also had a first look at OpenShift Origins (via an all in one VM). I have really come to like OpenShift, I have to admit, at first I wasnt too interested in PaaS as Im more of an IaaS person, but OpenShift has totally won me over.

All in all, it was a great geeky weekend, hope yours was too



We I have just returned from my anual trip to FOSDEM, held in Brussels. FOSDEM is one of my favourite conferences, there are so many interesting tracks and the, already large, conference seems to grow bigger each year. FOSDEM is entirely free and exists on a combination of donations and sponsorship, a model which clearly seems to work.

Like all good conferences you are inevitably faced with with the problem that there are multiple talks that you would like to see but the are being held at the same time. Some of the talks inevitably make it online and this years is now exception. They are available here

Of course, like most conferences, its not all about the tech. FOSDEM is the conference where I see the most socialising. I guess the fact the Belgium has some of the finest beers in the world helps this no end 🙂

Each year I come away from FOSDEM itching to get my hands on some of technologies that I have heard about, and this year is no differnt. Spacewalk is a project Ive been interested in for about 6 months now and it seems to have had some really nice features added soon. Im just waiting for them to break the need to use Oracle before I really dive back into it. PostgreSQL is on the roadmap and should be here soon.

There was an interesting talk by Linsay Holmwood about Flapjack, Cucumber Nagios & Visage, both of which Id like to have a play with. Another very interesting talk was give by a couple of Guys from Facebook. They were talking about how they have scaled Facebook with Open Source tools and the additional tools that Facebook have created and Open Sourced. Full marks have to go to Facebook for this, nice to see a company contributing back to Open Source so much. You can go to to find out about this.

I have also come away from FOSDEM ready to give OpsView another try, @dotwaffle extoled its virtues, so I certainly need to take a look at that. I have to say it was a real priviledge to listen to Andrew Tanembaum talk about Minix as well, I had no idea about some of the cool technologies included in it such as the reincarnation service. He was an entertaining speaker also which always helps.

I mentioned that FOSDEM seems to grow each year and take on more and more talks, inevitably this leads to some talks being put in rooms that are too small for the level of interest. I really wanted to take a look at some of the Coreboot talks but the room seemed to be at capacity right from the start. I guess I need to use those online videos I mentioned above.

Each year there also the usual swag available and this year was no different. I came away with a new TShirt and Max Spevak (Fedora Community guy) had brought over some excellent “powered by Fedora” case stickers. Spreaking of which, Max had also organised a Fedora Activity Day on the Friday afternoon, which was a nice way of starting off the weekend, a kind of pre-con. It was great to see so many Fedora Ambassadors at FOSDEM again this year.

All in all I had a great time there, a time that always seems to be over too quickly. It would be great to seem then extend the conference by a day or two. There were over 200 lectures given over the space of two short days, so Im sure there is enough content. I guess it depends if they could secure use of the University on weekdays that may be the limiting factor.

Anyway, a *very* big thanks to the organisers, the sponsors and the people who volunteer their time to make sure that the conference runs so smoothly. If you have never been to a FOSDEM, please make sure to see if you can go next February – watch the site for the exact date.

Other Conferences
While Im talking about conferences, please be sure to check out
LOAD April, Antwerp BE
OGGCamp March, Liverpool UK

Give Google a Break

Google are developing a new operating system, aimed squarely at the netbook market. The ethos behind it, like with most things at Google in the last 12 months, is speed – they want it to take no more than 7 seconds to boot.

Once logged in you will only have access to a web browser – the browser will be Googles Chrome Browser, as you may expect. There will be no desktop or other apps, everything will be done from the browser. They are going to build in functionality for  working offline, for when you are not connected to the net.

Many people, even in the Linux world, seemed to be opposed to this but I can only see it as a good thing. Under the hood its based on Linux, Google have said they have been working with Ubuntu in this respect. Google have stated that Chrome OS will be Open Source and released the current dev version on From my point of view I think its going to be good for the Linux platform. The improvement in boot speed and hardware drivers alone can only be good.

I really dont know why Google seem to have so much opposition. I understand peoples concerns about a company that knows so much about its users but they are the only company to have a “do no evil” moto. Whats more Google are also a very transparent company, the information that they have on you can easily be found and deleted if you so wish. For example, if you want to view or delete your web history, just go here and do so.

I do wonder how many people know about the Data Liberation Front, a team of Google engineers who work solely on making sure that you can easily get your data in or out of as many Google products as possible, as simply as possible.

I really do feel that Google are a friend of open source. Their Android phone OS is Open Source and while I know there was some concern over their reation to the Cyanogen mod, when you read into it, you can understand their point of view – plus they worked with the Cyanogen guy to come up with a work arround.

Also, lets not forget the Google Summer of Code. Each year they make this great contribution to Open Source. Im sure its not entirely altruistic but never the less it is a very valuable contribution.

Recenlty Google seemed to cause some more negative ripples with their aquistion of the Etherpad Project. I think anyone who has tried both Wave and EtherPad will understand why Google wanted Etherpad. Etherpads real time document editing is much better than the current Google Wave client. So the Etherpad team have been pulled off Etherpad and put to work on Wave. The controvesy was not so much about this but that the fact they closed Etherpad, a product that many people use and find invaluable. They gave people about a months notice to trasition away from it. The thing I will say about this is that as soon as they became aware of the communities concern, they re-examined the decision and have re-opened EtherPad – in a matter of days. They then said, in a very open way “what were we thinking”.

UPDATE: They have also released the sourcecode for Etherpad under the Apache Licence

This brings me on to Google Wave.I know that people who have been able to try this out are not that overwhelmed with it. What I will say is that its very early days in this products development. I would also so that Wave is all about the protocol underneath that lets you collaborate on document editing and the current Wave client is just the first implementation of a client – there will be other clients. In other words, think of Wave as SMTP and the current client as Outlook Express. There will be better clients

My main point about Wave though is how Google have gone about this. They said, from the outset, that they wanted to create an open protocol, just like SMTP. They also built federation in and they have also desinged it to be extensible, so that people can develope their own plugins. This shows that they are a company that just seem to get it. The understand why Openess is important.

So whats the point of this article, well what Im really saying is give Google a break. Yes they have a lot of information about us and its right to be concerned but their every action to date seems to have been honorable. Lets save the paranoia for companies that treat us and our data appallingly on a daily basis

I’d love to hear your opinion of this subject, please leave a comment or use the contact form