Living With Open Source

.SEAs a session during the Internetdagarna conference (orginized by .SE), Björn Stenberg, Daniel Melin and I joined up to talk about open source with the title “Living With Open Source” (“Att Leva med Öppen Källkod” in the language of the brave: Swedish) on October 27. We did a 90 minute session split up between the three of us. The session was in Swedish and it was recorded so I expect that it will be made available online soon for those who are curious but didn’t attend.

Bjorn Stenberg during "att leva med Öppen kallkod"

Björn (on the picture above) started off by talking about how to work with Open Source as a user when using Open Source components. How to deal with changes, sending upstream, the cost of keeping changes private etc.

Talare - Att leva med öppen källkodDaniel Melin continued and talked about open source licensing. It is quite clearly an area that people find tricky and mysterious, judging from the many questions that followed. I think large parts of the audience wasn’t very advanced or well versed into open source details so then of course there is a lot to learn and to talk about. I think we all felt that we tried to cover quite a lot that together with the questions was hard to fit within the given time.

I ended our triplet by talking about open source from a producer’s viewpoint, how we view things in a typical open source project and I used a lot of details and factual points from the cURL project.

The audience consisted of perhaps 50 people. We had a rather nerdy subject and we had tough competition from five other parallel sessions, with some of them featuring Internet and other local celebrities.

Over all, I think we did good. The idea that held our three talks together I think was fine, we kept the schedule pretty good, the audience seemed to enjoy it and I had a great time. And we got a really nice lunch afterwards!

git, patents, meego and android

dotse-logoAt this Tuesday afternoon, almost 100 people apparently managed to escape work and attend foss-sthlm’s fourth meeting. This time graciously sponsored by .SE who stood for the facilities, the coffee etc. Thank you .SE! Yours truly did his best to make it happen and to make sure we had a variety of talks by skilled people and I think we did good this time as well! This meeting took place at the same time the big Internetdagarna conference had their 6(!) parallel tracks in the building just next to ours, so it was also rather fierce competition for attention.

Robin with git

Robin Rosenberg started off the sessions by telling us about git and related dives into JGit, EGit, gerrit, code reviews and Eclipse. Robin is a core developer in the EGit/JGit projects. While I think I know at least a little git already, Robin provided an overlook over several different things in a good way. (It should be noted that Robin was called in very late in the game due to another talker having to drop out.)

As a side-note, I will never cease to be amazed by the habit in Java land to re-implement everything in “pure Java” instead of simply wrapping around the existing code/tools and leveraging what already exists and is stable…

Jonas with patents

Jonas Bosson spoke about the dangers with software patents and how they are not good, they’re hindering innovation and cost a lot of money for everyone involved. He also pledged the audience to join FFII to help the cause. You can tell Jonas is quite committed to this subject and really believes in this! And quite frankly, I don’t think a lot of people in this surrounding would argue against him…

Andreas with MeegoMeeGo

Andreas Jakl, just arrived from a rainy Helsinki, then told us (in English while all the other talks were in Swedish) about how to develop stuff with Qt for Symbian, Meego or desktop using the same tools. He showed us the latest fancy GUI builder they have called Qt Quick and how they use QML to do fancy things in a fast manner. He also managed to show us the code running in simulator and on device. Quite impressive. Andreas is a very good speaker and did a very complete session. As a bonus point, he used ‘haxx.se’ as test site for demonstrating his little demo build and of course you can’t help loving him more then? 😉

Johan with Android

Android

Johan Nilsson started off just after the coffee break with educating us how you can do push stuff from your server applications to your mobile device. How it works and how to control that in various way. Johan’s presentation was into details, in a way at least I really appreciated it, and his (hand drawn on paper then scanned) graphics used in the presentation were stunning! The fact that Johan sneaked in a couple of curl command lines of course gave him bonus points in my mind! 😉

Henrik with FribidFribid

Henrik Nordström took the stage and briefed us on the status of the Fribid project, which is a very Swedish-centric project that works on implementing full Linux support for “bankid” which is a electronic identification system established by a consortium of Swedish banks and is used by a wide range of authorities and organizations these days. The existing Linux client is poor (and hard to get working right), closed source, saves data encrypted with private hidden keys etc.

Food, Talk, Tablets

We_Tab-140-Motiv_4-3

In the restaurant after the seminaries, we gathered in a basement with beer in our glasses and chili on our plates and there was lots of open source and foss talks and we had a great time and good drinks. Two attendees brought their new tablets, which made us able to play with them and compare. the Android Samsung Galaxy Tab and the german Meego based WeTab.

Samsung Galaxy TabTo me there really wasn’t any competition. The Galaxy Tab is a slick, fast and nice device that feels like a big Android phone and it’s really usable and I could possibly see myself using it for emails and browsing. It was a while since I tried an Ipad but it gave about the same speed impression.

The WeTab however, even if it runs a modified Meego that isn’t “original” and that might suffer from bugs and what not, was a rough UI that looked far too much like my regular X Window system put in a touch device. For example, and I think this is telling, you scroll a web page down by using the right-side scroll bar and not by touching the screen in the middle and dragging it down like you’d do on IOS or Android. In fact, when I dragged down the scroll-bar like that I found it far too easy to accidentally then press one of the buttons that are always present immediately to the right of the scrollbar. Of course, the Galaxy Tab is a smaller device and also much more expensive, so perhaps those factors will bring a few users to WeTab then still.

I don’t think I’ll get a tablet anytime soon though, I just don’t see when I would use it.

Summary

I didn’t do any particular talk this time, but I felt we had a lot of good content and I can always blurb another time anyway. I really really like that we so far have managed to get lots of different speakers and I hope that we can continue to get many new speakers before we have to recycle.

It was a great afternoon and evening. All the good people and encouraging words inspire me to keep up my work and efforts on this, and I’m now aiming towards another meeting in the early 2011.

I will do another post later on when the videos from these talks go online.

pNFS is my kind of toy

Ok, so NFS has never really been my cup of tea. Complicated and the problem with the root user and locking and what not have always made me get all itchy when thinking about or using NFS.

Enter pNFS, the NFS 4.1 invention that truly suddenly makes the NFS technology so much interesting for high performance solutions. I also think  it is a bit unknown so I thought I’d help to share the knowledge about this to you my dear readers. The p in pNFS stands for parallel. The whole idea is that the single NFS server just provides meta data back to the client, with enough information to allow the client to read the actual payload data directly from the storage server(s), that then supposedly are different ones than the main meta data server

img_pnfs_standard

(picture from www.nexenta.org)

As you can see on this fancy picture, it allows each client to speak directly to the storage device to get or send the data. This allows them to avoid using a single bottleneck NFS server.

NFS 4.1 and pNFS are IETF standards, RFC5661 to RFC5664. The first one being 616 pages long and one of the largest RFCs I’m aware of.

Haxx – the first year

Last year I left my former employment, and focused on Haxx full-time. My brother joined me a few months afterward (January 2010). Today, at October 1 2010 we celebrate the official one year anniversary of Haxx AB as employer.Haxx

The history of Haxx goes far longer back than so. Linus Nielsen Feltzing and I first registered the company Haxx back in October 1997 and we used it then primarily as a way to market and do business on the side of our “real” jobs. To have a way to charge and do things we wanted to, that wasn’t conflicting with our day jobs. And of course we also bought the domain and could setup our “permanent” email addresses etc, which turned out great since I’ve thus used the same email address since back then and I hope I never need to change it again!

The first year of Haxx has been nothing but great fun and a major success.

As we’re contract developers and consultants, we of course need to make sure that our employees are sold to customers to a high degree with as little gaps as possible. Our projects are typically going on from a few months up to a year or two. During this year, both me and Björn have worked with several end customers and we’ve thus both managed to change assignments several times and none of the times caused any gaps – at all. Our services seem to be in high demand.

Being only two employees brings challenges on how to deal with sales, financial accounting etc as we’re just a few guys and we’re experts on development! We have found a few great partners that “sell” us (and of course we pay them a certain amount of percentage, but that’s a price we need to accept and is nothing but fair anyway since we can then remain doing what we’re good at and what we love) and we’re buying the bookkeeping etc from another company that is specialized at doing it for companies like us.

We’re looking forward to many more years of great fun. We also hope to be able to grow the company slightly over time, so if you’re a kick-ass embedded open source guy with networking experience and some 10+ years in the business and you live in the Stockholm Sweden area, do get in touch! As I’ve mentioned before, we’re gonna start out our second year with Linus onboard.

I’ll get back with an update next year! 🙂