NLUUG Spring Conference 2012

This year’s NLUUG Spring Conference is on Operating Systems — a “good ole'” topic for an association for professional UNIX administrators, now broadend to include Open Systems and Open Standards. This edition is special because it’s in cooperation with the NGN, and it’s bigger and broader than other recent NLUUG conferences. You can catch folks from Red Hat, Canonical and OpenSUSE there, as well as plenty of Sun Oracle people. There’s also a Windows 8 track. I don’t suppose repeating the Kubuntu-is-Windows trick would work there.

NLUUG Fall conference 2011

So, with NLUUG’s spring conference behind us, it’s time to look to the future. A future that actually started 10 years ago but is only now becoming really darn important except that not everyone’s paying attention.

I’m talking, of course, about IPv6, not the port of KPresenter to KDE3 by Carsten Niehaus (r86549).

The Register has a nice IPv6 WTF article, which in turn points to World IPv6 Day. There’s a Dutch IPv6 event on June 8th, too.

All this run-up is to point out that the NLUUG fall conference 2011 is october 20th (a little earlier in the year than usual) and the theme is "Netwerken: IPv6 en de rest." or, in plain English, "IPv6 and all that Jazz". The posters are printed, the Call for Papers, Abstracts and Vague Statements of Intent will go out sometime soon.

That said, there were various people grumbling about the lack of IPv6 connectivity at the spring conference, so there’s also technical and infrastructure work to be done, not just getting a good conference programme together.

NLUUG spring conference 2011

Yesterday (the 12th of May) was the NLUUG Spring conference 2011. The theme was "Open is Efficient" — a theme which can be explained any number of ways. Keynotes were along the theme of the social contract and cooperation, and the technical talks were mostly about cost- and time-savings.

I followed three technical talks (the most I’ve had in years, since usually I’m too busy running around checking on the vendor stands and doing last-minute organizational and board stuff) and quite enjoyed them, although 45 minutes is too short to dive in deep when the speaker starts off unsure of the technical level of the audience. At NLUUG conferences, the range of attendees is pretty big, so it can be difficult to judge where to start.

Mayur Nande talked about systemd, its design and philosophy, compared to other init varieties like SysV init, upstart and launchd. I had the please of sharing a train with Mayur after the conference (all of 12 minutes to Arnhem), so I could ask a few more technical things of him. I don’t mess with init systems very often (limited mostly to scratching my head at what SMF is doing on OpenSolaris) so this was a good introduction so I know what my Linuxes are doing.

I missed Jos van den Oever and his talk on WebODF. Drat.

Micha Kersloot dove into the details of migrating (partially) away from Exchange with the Zimbra suite. This is a talk I went to for work-work purposes, since getting away from Exchange is on the list-of-wishes for work-work. Being able to dump Outlook in the process is just a bonus. Interestingly, Micha said that he preferred Zimbra’s webmail client for ease-of-use of KMail. Inconceivable! I’ll have to look into it.

Magnus Hagander gave a whirlwind talk about Postgres 9.1 beta. I’ve been partial to Postgres forever (over other available Free Software databases) but the last time I installed it was version 8.2 and I’ve never done anything big with it. This overview of cool new features — hot streaming replication, weird-ass subqueries — made me repeatedly scratch my head and go "hey, postgres can do that?" Much appreciated. I’ll probably attend the Postgres Conference in Amsterdam to learn more. I though Magnus’s talk was great: well delivered and technical.

Then bought a book on DTrace, begged a Google Women T-shirt for the MomC, and ran off into the sunset.

This NLUUG conference marks the end of my involvement with the NLUUG as part of its board. I joined the board 4 years ago, and as my term expired I found I just didn’t have the time — what with working a regular job outside of the Free Software world and being involved with KDE and other things — to participate properly in this particular association. Pieter-Paul Spiertz and Marcel Nijenhof have joined the board (come to think of it, I should update the board webpage) so it’s at full strength.

Upcoming Conferences – NLUUG VJ11

The NLUUG, Dutch organization for Open Standards and Open Systems, has been organizing twice-a-year conferences for ages. This will be my last one as a member of the board of the association; it’s been an interesting three (five?) years, but I find I don’t have the time to be properly involved. My daily work is exactly one gazillion miles away from Free Software, perhaps a little closer to Open Systems; not close enough to be constructively engaged on a regular basis.

The conference programme itself is quite nice, though, and I’m looking forward to picking up a few talks. The theme is "Open is Efficient", which can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Jos van den Oever will be presenting WebODF, there’s an open GSM network, and a replacing Exchange talk (by Zimbra or Zarafa, not Kolab). I’ll be at those migration talks; the boss at my place has clearly said "if you guys can replace Exchange, write up a plan and the hours are all paid for." Who knows then my daily work would be only one bazillion miles away from Free Software.

Anyway, registration is open until May 8th, dirt cheap for students and UKUUG members, and inexpensive otherwise as conferences go in the IT world.

NLUUG fall conference schedule finalized

The NLUUG‘s Fall Conference — this time on the topic of Security — has been finalized. You can find the schedule, with speakers on both practical and theoretical topics, one the conference website. One of the speakers will be Frank Karlitchek, on Cloud security (in the context of OwnCloud). There tends to be a good amount of KDE presence at the NLUUG conference — I guess that means I’m good at spreading the Call for Abstracts in KDE circles, I guess.

Attendance for students is dirt cheap, so here’s a chance to pick up some useful or inspirational information on security.

Next NLUUG conference will be in May, topic still to be disclosed.

Upcoming Conferences

Two upcoming (in the fall, that is) conferences of note whose calls for papers are still open.

FSCONS: the Call for Papers is open until June 30th. FSCONS is a tremendously fun conference because it’s not just software technology, but Free Culture and other things. That means that there is more scope for learning (well, this is important for me) things outside of software. The compressed earth brick machine made a lasting impression on me last year, for instance.

NLUUG fall conference: the topic this (half) year is Security in all its aspects. You could talk about security from a systems administration perspective (for KDE, for instance, managing trust in a global distributed project with only occasional face-to-face contacts) or programmatically (for KDE again: what to do with Plasmoids and mitigating whatever security risks they might bring). This CfP is open until July 12th.

Down with loading!

One peculiarity of Dutch copyright law is the fact that obtaining a copy of a (copyrighted) work that is not offered in a legal fashion (i.e. the person offering the copy does not have a license to do so) does not in itself constitute infringement. In other words, you can take, but you can’t offer. Sounds a little like “do ask, but don’t tell” to me. I believe a similar situation applies in Canada. Both countries also have a “copying levy” applied to blank media.

The effect of this situation is to turn all the Dutch computer magazines (the non-technical ones anyway) into “where to get yur music n vidz” catalogues. Something that I feel does the notion of copyright a disservice. [[ I should note that it’s possible to disagree with the notion of copyright itself or the implementation thereof, but here we’re mostly weaseling to escape the fundamental restriction that it should be the author of a work who controls what may be done with it. ]]

[[ Additional warning: all links in this blog entry lead to Dutch-language pages, so be warned that they may contain Hottentottententententoonstellingen and other examples of that raspy tongue down by the sea. ]]

In the past few weeks there have been repeated kerfuffles around enforcement of copyright — in the music business, not software — but the Dutch government has now stated that it intends to make downloading illegal. Well, fortunately a little more subtle than that (although the umbrella for copyright organizations has in the past tried to paint a picture that all downloading is illegal, until the NLUUG and others called them on that). It hit one news site as free downloads should be punishable; another headline (same site) was gov’t to ban downloading. What I make of this is that “downloading” in Dutch apparently means “obtaining a copy of a work from an unlicensed source.” See the perverse effect on language?

This kind of news hits lots of channels, and you can see, for instance, on security.nl — the usual kind of discussion focused on “music biz needs a new business model” and “copyright lasts too long” and “implementation is infeasible because I’ll use encryption.”

But let’s take a closer look at the sources (maybe not the most-original source, but closer than reports in the media): a press release from the ministry of Justice. The summary of the press release reads:

Thuiskopieheffingen op informatiedragers zoals blanco cd’s en dvd’s moeten op termijn worden afgeschaft. Daarvoor in de plaats komt een regeling die het downloaden van beschermde werken uit (evident) illegale bron verbiedt. Verder wordt het toezicht op auteursrechtorganisaties sterker en zal de contractuele positie van auteurs en uitvoerende kunstenaars worden verbeterd.

[[ Loose translation in English: ]] The blank media levy (which covers home copying of music and video) on cd’s and dvd’s should be scrapped in due time. In its place, downloading of copyrighted content from (obviously) illegal sources will be prohibited. In addition, the oversight of copyright-related umbrella organizations will be strengthened and the contractual position of authors and performing artists will be improved.

I suppose I can only say I think I applaud this (the devil’s in the details, of course), as it moves to a somewhat less actuarial approach to copyright violations and tries to come up with something that works more closely along the original setup where the author had control over the protected work (within the scope of copyright law, which is the social contract governing the use of creative work, along with its explicitly allowed exceptions).

LinuxWorld wrap-up

Two days of LinuxWorld have left me tired by happy. I ended up giving two talks, because Karsten and I made it a double on wednesday and then on Thursday I had another one on best practices in license selection for Free Software projects (one-line summary: pick one that is consisten with your business strategy). The Open Source pavilion at LW isn’t all that large, so 14-20 people as an audience fills it.

Besides giving some talks on licensing topics (FSFE hat), I sometimes stood around the NLUUG booth and handed out posters for the next NLUUG conference — spring 2010, topic “System administration.” Very traditional for an Open Systems and Open Standards organization. And aside from that, wandering around a trade fair with four themes — Linux, Storage, Security and Business Tools — is an education in itself. I try to make clear at the start of every conversation that I’m not a sales opportunity, as that seems to avoid wasting time for both of us if I run into a hard-sell booth (still, the one stand that asked “How many workplaces does your company have?” and then “Well, you have less than five hundred desks, you’re not interesting, goodbye!” — I never even found out what they were selling at all.) You can still get conference goodies though, so I got home with a nice collection of peppermints and flashlights for the kids.

Roundup of NLUUG Fall Conference

Time to put down my NLUUG hat (that’s the purple one, matching the NLUUG color scheme) for this conference round and look back for a moment. It’s good to hear kind words from Sebas about the conference. They pretty much match my impressions of the whole: a conference with strong technical talks (I chaired three, on Legal aspects, Ampache and Midgard2) and a satisfied audience. The coffee was darn good — but you had to order a cappucino (after 11am) to get the full sense of artistry; Schuberg-Philis takes good care of its people. They had a nice talk on data storage tiers at the previous (spring) conference — the same conference where Ben Marin talked about libferris, so I’m happy to see him show up on planet KDE as well, now.

Kudos especially to Jos Poortvliet for filling in on short notice. I fully expect some form of revenge for that, even if the dinner and lengthy discussion about Free Software usability made up for some of it (quoth I “surely someone who drives a car has some mental model of what’s going on?” saith the usability expert “ha ha ha.”).

Thanks too to the programme committee, headed by Armijn, and to Interactie, represented by Andrea, for their dedication to the conference. As they say in Inspector Gadget: “next time” (the topic is “Systems Administration”, nice and traditional, and the call for abstracts is up if you’d like to submit a paper.)

Conference Schedules

Spurred by Henrik’s comment on FSCONS (and I intend to go to FSCONS to talk about licensing, but need to get that together), I thought I’d post an update on some conferences.

I’ll be at ELCE later this week to talk about licensing compatibility (and possibly machine architecture). I’m looking forward to it, because the embedded and mobile industry is one that mostly “gets it” when it comes to Free Software (it’s also the source of most violations). I’m honoured to be on a conference programme with so many real hackers, and looking forward to hearing about non-x86 architectures in particular.

Later this month, the NLUUG conference on the Open Web will be held in Ede, the Netherlands. Support for openness — in all the meanings of open standards, open access, open content — is still of growing importance. You can find me at that conference with my green and purple hats on (FSFE and NLUUG). Arnoud Engelfriet will be providing the legal and licensing angle at that conference (speaking of whom, I was very surprised to see him on TV a week or two ago explaining about copyright and how it was possible to download things without violating copyrights).

If you don’t want the Open Web, you might want to go to Linux Kongress, 600km to the east. You can attend a talk about Ede, though. From my point of view, though, the most interesting talk is probably about Open Source ERP (I wonder about that, actually, since the OEPL looks like it is a restrictive license that will probably fail the Free Software criteria and might fail the Open Source Initiative criteria — but this is not the spot for lengthy license examination). My interest there is sparked (if I can call it that) by the relative lack of Free Software in that space. It is apparently neither an itch that people want to scratch, nor a market where business has found a way to work with Free Software in its business model. At least, that’s the impression I got from OpenExpo two weeks ago, and I’d be happy to be shown otherwise.