FOSDEM Turns Ten!

I’m back from my daily visit to the FOSDEM. This two-days event organized in Brussels hit the 10th edition! Congratulations! I attended FOSDEM for several years and the success is continuously growing. This is good! It means that the interest in free software is growing too! Even better, like any similar event, it is an excellent place to meet “IRL” (“In Real Life“) your friends and the developers of your favorite applications or operating systems.

I joined the conference place around 9:00am. It was impressive to see so much geeks already converging to the same place in a foggy Sunday morning! My first selection in the huge-number of tracks was about “Linux distribution for the cloud” by Peter Eisentraut. Cloud computing remains a hot topic. Peter explained what is the cloud (and once again a new definition of the “cloud”!) and explained how Linux distributions could take advantage of it. Linux distributions are made to provide compilation of useful tools to the users. That’s also the goal of clouds. What are the implications of free software used in the cloud. The presentation was not as expected (“how to build a cloud service based on free software”), I was a bit disappointed.

The second talk was given by Marius Nuennerich. The topic was an “Introduction to FreeBSD“. FreeBSD is an operating system which offers nice features. I learned that many different big organizations like Yahoo!, bank, military organizations are using FreeBSD. Parts of the source code have been re-used in many commercial products (MacOS, Cisco, Juniper, …). The code is released under the BSD license and is so simple compared to other types of licenses! Lot of questions popped from the audiance regarding the license model and the discussions slided smoothly from a presentation of the operating system to something more “legal”. Time was out to deeply cover all the other nice features of FreeBSD like the jails and the file-system encryption. But the talk was instructive. I like the quote of Marius:

You cannot escape from a FreeBSD jail! It’s like a … jail

My next two tracks were much more popular and presented in the biggest room (“Janson”). Andrew Lewman presented the Tor project (“The Onion Router“). It is a well-known project which increases anonymity of users traffic on the Internet. Everybody may requires anonymity on the Internet: from the end-user to military infrastructure or human-rights defenders. The principle behind Tor was explained (routing packets through virtual circuits up to the end-node). There are also plenty of tools to make Tor easier to use (proxies, virtual machines, live CD, etc). As Tor protects the user anonymity, it’s difficult to information about the users. Anyway, a site (metrics.torproject.org) tries to gather some statistics.

Finally, my last track was performed by Andrew Tanenbaum himself. He spoke about MINIX, an operating system designed to be highly reliable, flexible, and secure. “Andy” is an excellent speaker and gave an presentation of his baby. He started with this quote:

If God wanted software to be reliable, he wouldn’t have created Reset buttons

This is so true! The MINIX fundamentals were reviewed and how it can provide this excellent reliability. I installed AmigaMINIX years ago and was happy to receive a prompt but only basic commands like ‘ls’, ‘cp’ worked. Now, the OS looks much more mature and has enough tools to start using it. To be investigated when I’ll have some free time (on my todo list).

And as usual, lot of stands with all your favorite flavors of operating systems and applications! The one of RepRap was impressive with their 3D printers in demo.

An excellent edition with a strong organization (mandatory to satisfy thousands of visitors during two days!) Some pictures of the event are available on Flicker and see you next year!

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