Last weekend, was FOSDEM 2013, two days of talks about Open Source, almost 500 in total, spread over more than 20 developer rooms.
It started on Friday night, at the Delirium café in the center of Brussels, where a few hunderd developers had gathered for beer and socialising. I planned to meet some people, but finding them was not an easy task. Ironically, modern day tools like SMS proved useless : by the time the messages I sent reached them (hours later), I had already found them.
After a nightly walk to the hotel and a short night, it was time for the real stuff. First the opening talk by FOSDEM staff, with some practical info about the conference : the new logo, location of rooms and buildings, wireless network, sponsors, catering, first aid, devrooms, lightning talks and main track speakers; finished by the FOSDEM dance, which was a bit more complex than previous years.
Looking at the list of talks I have attended (with more than 20 simultaneous talks at any time during the conference, it was impossible to go to all 500 of them), I'll mention some highlights :
- I went to quite a few talks about legal and licensing issues. Over the years I've come to realise this is an important part of the Open Source world. Choosing an Open Source license and publishing your work under it, being it software, hardware design, or other creative work, is one thing, making sure the license terms are not violated, is another. Although some talks were informative, some raised more questions than were answered.
For example, if I publish my software under an Open Source license as a European citizen, will European law protect my copyright and license terms? If the software is used in the EU, this would probably be the case. But what about other regions in the world?
- Maintaining a kernel subsystem : informative talk and good speaker. Although it was about maintaining a kernel subsystem, the methods he used, can be used to maintain any Open Source project.
- Welcome to the Symfony2 World gave an overview of the current state of the Symfony 2 framework, with some history and what components and possibilities it has.
- Vehicular traffic estimation through bluetooth uses a Raspberry Pi and some Open Source tools, to track traffic connecting to bluetooth capable devices. Nice application of the Raspberry Pi.
- What's new in BIND 10 and Samba4 : both telling a story about rewriting the previous software to come to a newer, better and improved version. Samba 4 will now support SMB3 protocol and Active Directory.
- One of the most interesting talks explained what the actual problem is with UEFI SecureBoot, who the different players are (from users, over system builders, to hardware and OS vendors) and how the problem can be solved.
Basically : Windows 8 requires UEFI Secureboot to be enabled (UEFI replaces the old BIOS), otherwise it will not start up. Secureboot ensures that the OS being started is valid, by checking it's signature with one stored in the UEFI chip. As such, this is not bad, but when you want to boot an OS that is not signed by a key, or the key is not present in the chip, it is impossible to start this OS, making dual booting linux/Windows 8 very difficult.
Luckily some intiatives are done to make the dual booting possible, with the most recent one : Linux Foundation obtained a Microsoft key, making it possible to boot a linux distro on a device were Windows 8 is installed. (this happened after FOSDEM, so it was not mentioned during the talk)
Of course, it is still possible to boot Linux, or any other OS, on a device with UEFI, when you don't want to use Windows 8. Then you can just disable the SecureBoot option.
It was a nice weekend, lots of interesting talks, meeting a few current and previous team members of the phpMyAdmin and some people I've met at the GSoC mentor summits. Still only 51 weeks to go before the next FOSDEM.