Category Archives: IT Politics

Hosting RMS again!

I'm thrilled to once again have to honor to organize a lecture and talk in Stockholm by the legendary RMS himself. (Remember the last time?)

On January 25 2016, RMS will talk about "For a Free Digital Society" in the large Aula Magna room at Stockholm University that seats almost 1200 persons.

See http://www.foss-sthlm.se/rms2016.html for the full invitation and sign-up. Registration is voluntary, but it helps us understand the interest and size of the audience.

Aula MagnaPhoto by Kjell Ericson, taken just before the event started the last time.

IDG prints lies about RMS

Joel Åsblom works as a "technical writer" at the Swedish "IT magazine" consortium IDG. He got assigned the job of interviewing Richard M Stallman when he was still in Stockholm after his talk at the foss-sthlm event. I had been mailing with another IDG guy (Sverker Brundin) on and off for weeks before this day to try to coordinate a time and place for this interview.

During this time, I forwarded the "usual" requests from RMS himself about how the writer should read up on the facts, the background and history behind Free Software, the GNU project and more. The recommended reading includes a lot of good info. My contact assured me that they knew this stuff and that they had interviewed mr Stallman before.

This November day after the talk done in Stockholm, Roger Sinel had volunteered to drive Richard around with his car to show him around the city and therefore he was also present in the IDG offices when Joel interviewed RMS. Roger recorded the entire interview on his phone. I've listened to the complete interview. You can do it as well: Part one as mp3 and ogg, and part 2 as mp3 and ogg. Roughly an hour playback time all together.

The day after the interview, Joel posted a blog entry on the computersweden.se blog (in Swedish) which not only showed disrespect towards his interviewee, but also proved that Joel has not understood very many words of Stallman's view or perhaps he misread them on purpose. Joel's blog post translated to English:

Yesterday I got an exclusive interview with legend Richard Stallman, who in the mid 80's, published his GNU Manifesto on thoughts of a free operating system that would be compatible with Unix. Since then he has traveled the world with his insistent message that it is a crime against humanity to charge for the program.

As the choleric personality he is, I got the interview once I've made a sacred promise to never (at least in this interview) write only Linux but also add Gnu before each reference to this operating system. He thinks that his beloved GNU (a recursive acronym for GNU is Not Unix) is the basis of Linux in 1991 and thus should be mentioned in the same breath.

Another strange thing is that this man who KTH and a whole lot of other colleges have appointed an honorary doctorate has such a difficulty to understand the realities of the labor market. During the interview, I take notes on a computer running Windows, which makes him get really upset. He would certainly never condescend to work in an office where he could not run a computer that contains nothing but free software. I try to explain to him that the vast majority of office slaves depend on quite a few programs that are linked to mission-critical systems that are only available for Windows. No, Stallman insists that we must dare to stand up for our rights and not let ourselves be guided by others.

Again and again he returns to the subject that software licensing is a crime against humanity and completely ignores the argument that someone who has done a great job on designing programs also should be able to live from this.

The question then is whether the man is drugged. Yes, I actually asked if he (as suggested in some places) uses marijuana. This is because he has propagated for the drug to be allowed to get used in war veteran wellness programs. The answer is that he certainly think that cannabis should be legalized, but that he has stopped using the drug.

He confuses freedom with price - RMS never refuses anyone the right to charge for programs. Joel belittles the importance of GNU in a modern Linux system. He calls him "choleric". He claims you cannot earn money on Free Software (maybe he needs to talk to some of the Linux kernel hackers) and he seems to think that Windows is crucial to office workers. Software licenses a crime against humanity? From the person who has authored several very widely used software licenses?

The final part about the drugs is just plain rude.

During the interview, Joel mentions several times that he is using Ubuntu at home (and Stallman explains that it is one of the non-free GNU/Linux systems). It is an excellent proof that just because someone is using a Linux-based OS, they don't have to know one iota or care the slightest about some of the values and ethics that lie behind its creation.

In the end it leaves you wondering if Joel wrote this crap deliberately or just out of ignorance. It is hard to see that you actually can miss the point to this extent. It is just another proof what kind of business IDG is.

The reaction

Ok, so I felt betrayed and badly treated by IDG as I had helped them get this interview. I emailed Sverker and Joel with my complaints and I pointed out the range of errors and faults in this "blogpost". I know others did too, and RMS himself of course wasn't too thrilled with seeing yet another article with someone completely missing the point and putting words into his mouth that he never said and that he doesn't stand for.

During the weekend I discussed this at FSCONS with friends and there were a lot of head-shakes, sighs and rolling eyes.

The two writers both responded to my harsh criticisms and brushed it off, claiming you can have different views on free vs gratis and so on, and both said something in the style "but wait for the real article". Ok, so I held off this blog post until the "real article".

The real article

Stallman - geni och kolerisk agitator, which then is supposedly the real article, was posted on November 15th. It basically changed nothing at all. The same flaws are there - none of the complaint mails and friendly efforts to help them straighten out the facts had any effect. I would say the most fundamental flaws ones are:

With opinions that it is a crime against humanity to charge for software Richard Stallman has made many enemies at home. In South America, he has more friends, some of which are presidents whom he persuaded to join the road to free source code.

Joel claims RMS says you can't charge for software. The truth is that he repeatedly and with emphasis says that free software means free as in freedom, it does not necessarily means gratis. Listen to the interview, he said this clearly this time as well. And he says so every time he does a public talk.

Richard Stallman is also the founder of the Free Software Foundation, and his big show-piece is the fight against everything regarding software licenses.

Joel claims he has a "fight against everything regarding software licenses". That's so stupid I don't know where to begin. The article itself even has a little box next to it describing how RMS wrote the GPL license etc. RMS is behind some of the most used software licenses in the world.

The fact that Joel tries to infer that Free Software is mostly a deal in South America is just a proof that this magazine (and writer) has no idea about for example the impact of Linux and GNU/Linux in just about all software areas except desktops.

My advice

All this serves just as a proof and a warning: please friends, approach this behemoth known as IDG with utmost care and be sure that they will not understand what you're talking about if you're not into their mainstream territory. They deliberately will write crap about you, even after having been told about errors and mistakes. Out of spite or just plain stupidity, I'm not sure.

[I deliberately chose not to include the full article translated to English here since it is mostly repetition.]

RMS in Sthlm

Claes and I started the foss-sthlm initiative a while ago, back in 2009. I'm sure I've mentioned that before. We've since then done a series of events where we've gathered foss hackers from the Stockholm region to speak about Free Software and Open Source for people interested in these issues. We've had 100+ persons attend to every event and I've considered them successful beyond our wildest expectations. Me and Claes originally expected to gather around 30 persons or so...

Interested?

So out of the blue I got a question from Giuseppe (who were talking to RMS at the time) if foss-sthlm/me would be interested in organizing an event in Stockholm with mr Stallman. It turned out mr Stallman was already considering coming to FSCONS in Gothenburg and when doing so he was looking around to see if he could do some more talks while in Sweden. Given this chance, I simply couldn't turn it down!

We coordinated with our pals behind FSCONS (the lovely crew at FFKP) so that we would jointly fund the event. We would split the bill for getting mr Stallman here and onward again to his subsequent gig, and the cost for his travel between Stockholm and Gothenburg.

How many?

Ironically, we already before had talked about not getting one of these super celebs to foss-sthlm events simply because of their immense popularity and the problem to get facilities to host events with them. How many would come to an RMS talk? I guessed at least 300 since among our previous events the most popular one got around 150 visitors.

How to get a place?

Commercial rooms for at least 300 people are expensive and luckily we quite soon got in touch with friends at KTH in Sweden - The Royal Institute of Technology, and they graciously offered to sponsor a room for 500. Awesome, we were on our way!

Sponsors?

South Pole didn't hesitate when I asked them (you rock, Jakob!), but immediately said they'd help us to sponsor the event. With them on board, we had all the financial stuff we needed covered and we could say "full steam ahead!" to everyone involved .

Fiddle like crazy

FSCONS had a fixed date for their conference already, but when would RMS come to Stockholm? After FSCONS or before? When would we be able to reserve the room and how would it all fit into RMS's schedule of other things. Several times we thought we had nailed it when something changed and we had to redo it all again. It took a good amount of emails back and forth until we finally scheduled and decided that he'd be in Stockholm first and then go FSCONS.

Open for registrations!

We went public about RMS coming to Sweden coordinated with FSCONS so that none of us would take advantage of this on the others' expense. On September 27th 13:22 we told everyone about it, and within less than eleven (11) hours all 500 seats in the room had been reserved!

Oops, full already

Wow. That was a bit overwhelming and not quite what I had expected. A bit tough, but well our room only fits 500 so...

Find a new place

Friendly people on the foss-sthlm list very soon mentioned a new, much larger, facility that perhaps could be possible to host Stallman's talk. The huge Aula Magna room. I was a bit pessimistic about it, as I was just so happy already with having gotten a fine sponsorship for that first room.

New place, new sponsor

What are friends for? I can hardly describe it, but we have good friends in good places and wow, not many days passed until I got the excellent news that the Stockholm University's department for Computer and System's Sciences would help us get the room and pay the bill for it. This massive room fits 1194 sitting visitors. (Thanks Beatrice, you're awesome!)

More tickets

Amazingly enough, it was just a matter of time until we ran out of tickets again. Sure, this time there were tickets available for a longer time but well over a week before the RMS talk there were again no tickets available. The demand was still clearly very high. When the event was just a few days away, we sent out reminder emails and we got lots of ticket cancellations, perhaps 60-70 of them, and the tickets that were returned were immediately made available again on the ticket site and were soon signed up for again by other lucky souls.

When we closed the registration, there were just a few tickets still available. 1180 or so had been registered to listen to Richard M Stallman talk in Stockholm, a dull and grey November day 2011.

The speech

Richard is a charismatic person. He can speak to a huge audience for almost two hours, with no slides and no images and no script and still keep us all alert and interested. He mixes in dry humor and reflects back and recites episodes from previous speeches from time to time.

The topic was of course Free Software. About doing the right thing. About freedom and how you need to be prepared to sacrifice some things in order to gain and fight for freedom. For mr Stallman things are often black/white. It is either free and therefore right and fine, or it isn't free and therefore morally wrong and a bad idea. He also spent quite a lot of time explaining why calling it GNU/Linux is the right thing and how mr Torvalds doesn't care about the ethics and about doing the right thing for humanity.

I've been involved in Free Software (and in Open Source too, a term that RMS despises and encourages us all not to use) for many years but this was actually the first time I heard RMS talk live.

Thanks

This would not have been such a smooth ride with the efforts of Giuseppe, Claes and the eager help and assistance from all friends in #foss-sthlm. Thank you!

(The pictures in this blog entry are all CC-BY-SA licensed and are taken by Kjell Ericson)

Three out of one hundred

If I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem and I don't want to be part of the problem. More specifically, I'm talking about female presence in tech and in particular in open source projects.

3 out of 100I've been an open source and free software hacker, contributor and maintainer for almost 20 years. I'm the perfect stereo-type too: a white, hetero, 40+ years old male living in a suburb of a west European city. (I just lack a beard.) I've done more than 20,000 commits in public open source code repositories. In the projects I maintain, and have a leading role in, and for the sake of this argument I'll limit the discussion to curl, libssh2, and c-ares, we're certainly no better than the ordinary average male-dominated open source projects. We're basically only men (boys?) talking to other men and virtually all the documentation, design and coding is done by male contributors (to a significant degree).

Sure, we have female contributors in all these projects, but for example in the curl case we have over 850 named contributors and while I'm certainly not sure who is a woman and who is not when I get contributions, there's only like 10 names in the list that are typically western female names. Let's say there are 20. or 30. Out of a total of 850 the proportions are devastating no matter what. It might be up to 3%. Three. THREE. I know women are under-represented in technology in general and in open source in particular, but I think 3% is even lower than the already low bad average open source number. (Although, some reports claim the number of female developers in foss is as low as just above 1%, geekfeminism says 1-5%).

Numbers

Three percent. (In a project that's been alive and kicking for thirteen years...) At this level after this long time, there's already a bad precedent and it of course doesn't make it easier to change now. It is also three percent of the contributors when we consider all contributors alike. If we'd count the number of female persons in leading roles in these projects, the amount would be even less.

It could be worth noting that we don't really have any recent reliable stats for "real world" female share either. Most sources that I find on the Internet and people have quoted in talks tend to repeat old numbers that were extracted using debatable means and questions. The comparisons I've seen repeated many times on female participation in FOSS vs commercial software, are very often based on stats that are really not comparable. If someone has reliable and somewhat fresh data, please point them out for me!

"Ghosh, R. A.; Glott, R.; Krieger, B.;
Robles, G. 2002. Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Survey and Study. Part
IV: Survey of Developers. Maastricht: International Institute of Infonomics
/Merit.

A design problem of "the system"

I would blame "the system". I'm working in embedded systems professionally as a consultant and contract developer. I've worked as a professional developer for some 20 years. In my niche, there's not even 10% female developers. A while ago I went through my past assignments in order to find the last female developer that I've worked with, in a project, physically located in the same office. The last time I met a fellow developer at work who was female was early 2007. I've worked in 17 (seventeen!) projects since then, without even once having had a single female developer colleague. I usually work in smaller projects with like 5-10 people. So one female in 18 projects makes it something like one out of 130 or so. I'm not saying this is a number that is anything to draw any conclusions from since it just me and my guesstimates. It does however hint that the problem is far beyond "just" FOSS. It is a tech problem. Engineering? Software? Embedded software? Software development? I don't know, but I know it is present both in my professional life as well as in my volunteer open source work.

Geekfeminism says the share is 10-30% in the "tech industry". My experience says the share gets smaller and smaller the closer to "the metal" and low level programming you get - but I don't have any explanation for it.

Fixing the problems

What are we (I) doing wrong? Am I at fault? Is the the way I talk or the way we run these projects in some subtle - or obvious - ways not friendly enough or downright hostile to women? What can or should we change in these projects to make us less hostile? The sad reality is that I don't think we have any such fatal flaws in our projects that create the obstacles. I don't think many females ever show up near enough the projects to even get mistreated in the first place.

I have a son and I have a daughter - they're both still young and unaware of this kind of differences and problems. I hope I will be able to motivate and push and raise them equally. I don't want to live in a world where my daughter will have a hard time to get into tech just because she's a girl.

Open fibre

One of the big telecom operators in Sweden, Telia, has started to offer "fibre to the house"- called "Öppen Fiber" in Swedish - and I've signed up for it. They're investing 5 billion SEK into building fibre infrastructure and I happen to live in an area which is among the first ones in Sweden that gets the chance to participate. What's in this blog post is information as I've received and understood it. I will of course follow-up in the future and tell how it all turns out in reality.

Copper is a Dead End

fiber cableI have my own house. My thinking is that copper-based technologies such as the up-to-24mbit-but-really-12mbit ADSL (I have some 700 meters or so to the nearest station) I have now has reached something of an end of the road. I had 3 mbit/sec ADSL almost ten years ago: obviously not a lot of improvement is happening in this area. We need to look elsewhere in order to up our connection speeds. I think getting a proper fibre connection to the house will be a good thing for years to come. I don't expect wireless/radio techniques to be able to compete properly, at least not within the next coming years.

Open

This is an "open fibre" in the sense that Telia will install and own the physical fibre and installation but they will not run any services on top of it. I will then buy my internet services, TV and telephone services (should I decide that TV and phone over the fibre is desirable) from the selection of service companies that decide to join in and compete for my money.

Installation

They're promising delivery "before the end of the year". I won't even get an estimated installation date until around mid August. If an existing tube doesn't exist for the copper or electricity that they can use to push the fibre through, they will dig. From the road outside my house to my building, across whatever land that exists there. They need to dig roughly 40 cm deep. The fibre is terminated inside the house (a maximum of 5 meter inside the building) in a small "media converter" box which basically converts from fibre to a RJ45 network plug. It is the size of a regular small switch or so. It is claimed to be possible to get a different "box" that provide a direct fibre plug of some sorts for the people who may already have fibre installed in their houses. I currently have a burglar alarm in my house that uses the current phone connection which I'll need to get either just dumped completely or converted over to use a telephone-over-fibre concept. I don't plan on paying for or using any copper-based service once the fibre gets here. (There's however no way to use the Swedish tax deduction "rot-avdrag".)

Price

dlink DIR 635There's no monthly fee for the fibre, I only pay a one-time installation fee of 16700 SEK (roughly 1800 Euros) to get it. I then of course will have to pay for the services if I want to actually use the installation but until I do there are no fees involved. This price is actually fixed and the same for all the houses in my area that got this deal. At August 15th the deal ends and they'll increase the installation price to 26700 SEK. Given the amount of work they have to put in for each new customer, I don't really consider this price to be steep. A lot of money, sure, but also quite a lot of value.

Speeds to expect

The physical speed between my house and the other end (some kind of fibre termination station somewhere) will be exactly 1000mbit/sec and no more "up to" phrasing or similar in the contract. Of course, that's just the physical speed that is used and with this equipment the network cannot be any faster than 1000 mbit. There will then be ISPs that offer an internet connection, and they may very well offer lower speeds and even varying different speeds at different tariffs. Right now, other fibre installations done by Telia seem to get offered up to 100/100 mbit connections. As this is then not a physical maximum, it should allow for future increasing without much problems. The 1000 mbit/sec speed over the fibre is a limitation in the actual installed hardware (not the fibre) so in the future Telia can indeed replace the media converters in both ends and bump the speed up significantly should they want to and feel that there's business in doing so. My current D-Link wifi router only has 100 mbit WAN support so clearly I'll have to replace that if I go beyond.

IPv6

Seriously, I believe I may be closer to actually get a real IPv6 offer using this than with ADSL here in Sweden. I haven't really investigated this for real though.

Update

December 16th: I got a mail from Telia today that informed me that the installation in my area has been delayed so it won't happen until Q2 2012! 🙁

FSCONS 2010 day 2

[continued from FSCONS 2010 day 1]

With the previous night's social event ending fairly late and involving a fair amount of good beers, it was nice to be able to sleep in a bit and have one of those great hotel breakfasts in a slow and relaxed manner.

I then checked out from the hotel and walked over to the venue, this time not as mislead by google maps' directions as I was yesterday.

The economics of open innovation and FOSS. was the first session I attended and the talker Karthik Jayaraman did a good job of explaining and showing how things can happen fast and why and he did some interesting predictions of the future.

I followed Kathik's talk in the same room with my 30 minute session Future transports in which I discussed and explained a bit about transport protocols today and what might come tomorrow.

Glyn Moody is a bit of a celebrity (he has for example written several books) and you can tell he's done this before. He's an excellent speaker and as he's a native English person he has a bit of an edge compared to most speakers at this conference. Mr Moody got the biggest room at FSCONS filled up to the last available chair and there were still a bunch who had to sit on the floor.

Glyn talked about Ethical Monopolies, the history of patents and copyright and how they have changed and how they today no longer are even close to having the purposes they were created for.

He advocates that we stop talking about "Intellectual Properties" but instead refer to them as "Intellectual government-granted monopolies" as that is a much better use of words when these subjects are brought up. The ordinary person thinks people should be able to keep properties, but would in many cases object to (more) monopolies.

The last session I got to enjoy this year was Mikael von Knorring's "Who are the free users" which did present a good view of things but I wasn't very focused during the talk so I'll refrain from judging it in any direction.

I took a last stroll over to the cafeteria area where I found some friends, said hello and good bye and then I took off towards the train station and my 3+ hours train ride back to Stockholm on the other coast of Sweden. (It could be noted that I left early, there were at least two session slots that I missed.)

My head is packed with impressions. I met lots of great people and friends, both old and many new ones. We had awesome discussions and I hope at least some of the ideas that were brought up will be turned into reality. I will post more about those here if/when they happen.

The future for Free Software (in the Nordic region) is bright!

My projects will never be GNU

I'm maintaining a bunch of projects and at times I think about joining some kind of umbrella organization to find a foster family for the project. An organization that's bigger than just that single project that possibly could be helpful in a lot of ways.

One large and famous such umbrella project for free and open software is GNU, Gnu's Not Unix. To submit your software to GNU, they have a set of rules you need to obey. and here's my reasons why the projects I maintain most likely will not ever become GNU projects:A gnu head!

  • GNU programs should come with documentation in Texinfo format - Oh man, so we need to provide an inferior documentation format of the docs for our software just to be GNU? It doesn't make sense. And of course, info also sucks.
  • A GNU program should use the latest version of the license that the GNU Project recommends—not just any free software license. For most packages, this means using the GNU GPL - for many existing projects the selected license was carefully chosen and if the project has existed for a while changing license is not an easy task. I would also consider it out of the question for many projects. A true stopping requirement for most of my projects.
  • the documentation files and comments in the program should speak of GNU/Linux systems, rather than calling the whole system “Linux”, and should use the term “free software” rather than “open source”. - blah. I often speak of "open source" and I like the term "Linux" because of its simplicity and it being easier to pronounce than GNU/Linux.

In all, this just proves that I don't share the religious and strong philosophical views on life and everything that the GNU people posses.

I'm quite simply not a GNU person. I sympathize with their general goals and I know and support a lot of GNU hackers and projects. I just can't make my projects join the project.

The Swedish BankID curse and Debian

Lots of bank, tax and insurance related stuff in Sweden these days switch to using BankID for secure logins on web sites.

That system used to be a java-thing so as long as your browser supported running java applets, you'd be fine. Even us strange guys who prefer Linux. While I'm not a huge fan of java, this seemed to be a rather fine example of where using a java-applet was actually a pretty good idea to achieve functionality on a wide variety of platforms without too much work.

They ditched the java applet a while ago and switched to a browser plugin and native application instead, which then suddenly made them forced to write platform-specific code to achieve the same magic. And not too surprisingly, the Linux version was poorly made and is not supported and is left with a really complicated way to install it which no doubt will prevent every Linux-newbie out there from using BankID on Linux. Annoying and rude if you ask me.

Now, my bank (Skandiabanken) is about to switch to use BankID completely for their regular logins and I thought it was about time for me to start the fight with this under Linux and see what I will learn.

The install.sh script is written for Ubuntu (very poorly) and doesn't work. Shame on you Nexus for that crap. I poked it and with some manual hands-on I could install the stuff properly. I can now head over to the official BankID site and it verifies that my installation works fine. Somehow it does however not allow me to "sign" anything because of some failure and here's the "fun" part:

The only help and contact there is about BankID says "contact your bank" for support. My bank says they have no support and just drops the ball there.

I'm willing to offer my fixed version of the install script that will work better on more distros. I'm willing to work a bit on my own to fix this for Linux uses such as myself. But how the hack can I even fix the problems when nobody can answer any questions or provide any details on this system?

My IETF 75 Story

A while ago, like a couple of years ago, I joined the mailing list for the HTTPbis effort. That's the IETF work group which is working on producing an update to the HTTP 1.1 spec RFC2616 that clarifies it and removes things that nobody does or that doesn't work. That spec is huge and the number of conflicting statements or just generally muddy expressions is large. This work is not near completion yet.

So when I learned the IETF75 meeting was to be held here in Stockholm, I of course cheered the opportunity to get to join in the talks and meet the people here.IETF

IETF is basically just an informal bunch of people who likes internet protocols, "above the wire and below the application". The goal of the IETF is to make the Internet work better. This is the organization behind the RFCs. They wrote the specs for TCP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, HTTP and a wide range of other protocols we all use non-stop these days. I'm actually quite surprised IETF is so little known. When I mention the organization name, most people just give me a blank face back that reveals it just isn't known to very many "civilians".

IETF has meetings around the world 2 or 3 times per year, and every time some 1K-2K people join up and there's a week filled with working group meetings, talks and a lot of socializing and so on. The attitude is generally relaxed all over and very welcoming for newcomers (like me). Everyone can join any talk or discussion. There's simply no dress code, but everyone just wears whatever they think is comfortable.

The whole week was packed with scheduled talks and sessions, but I only spent roughly 1.5 days at the conference center as I had to get some "real work" done as well and quite honestly I didn't find sessions that matched my interest every single day anyway.

After the scheduled days, and between sessions and sometimes instead of the scheduled stuff, a lot of social events took place. People meet in informal gatherings, talk, plans, sessions and dinners. The organizers of this particular even also arranged two separate off-topic social events. As one of the old-timers I talked to said something like "this year was unusually productive, but just about all of that was done outside of the schedule"...

This time. The 75th IETF meeting was hosted by .se in Stockholm Sweden in the end of July 2009. 1230 persons had signed up to come. The entrance fee was 650 USD unless you wanted to pay very late or at the door, as then it was a 130 extra or so. Oh, and we got a t-shirt!

One amusing little detail: on the t-shirt we got there was a "free invite code" to the Spotify streaming music service. But when people at the IETF meeting tried to use it at the conference center, Spotify refused to accept the users claiming it doesn't work in the US! Clearly they're not using the most updated ip-geography database in the world! 😉

So let me quickly mention a few of the topics I caught and found interesting, some of which I've blogged about separately.

HTTP over SCTP

The guys in the SCTP team works on this draft on how to do HTTP the best possible way over SCTP. They cite tests that claim "web browsing" becomes a better experience when done over SCTP. I'm personally quite interested in this work and in SCTP in general and I hope to be able to play with making libcurl support this in a not too distant future.

How to select TCP or SCTP

Assuming that SCTP gets widespread adoption and even browsers and browser-like apps start support it. How should the clients figure out which transport mechanism to use? The problem is similar to the selection between IPv4 or IPv6 but for the IP choice we can at least use A and AAAA lookups. The suggestions that were presented basically argued for trying all combinations in parallel and going with the fastest to respond, but a few bright minds questioned the smartness of that as it scales very badly if more transport options are added and it potentially introduces a lot more (start-up) traffic.

Getting HTTP from multiple mirrors

What the authors call Multiserver HTTP, is a pretty small suggestion of a few additional HTTP headers that a server would be able to return to a client hinting about other URIs where the exact same file/resource can be downloaded from. A client would then get that resource in parallel from multiple HTTP servers using range requests. Quite inspired by other technologies such as bittorrent and metalink. This first draft faced some criticism of not using existing HTTP as it could, but the general spirit has been welcoming.

The presenter of the idea, Mike Hanley, also mentioned the ability to allow the server response include a wildcard mention, so that a server for example could hint that "other images from this dir path can also be found under this dir path on this other server". Thus a client would be able to download such images from multiple servers. This idea is not in that draft and I'm not personally sure I think it fits as nicely.

HTTP-state wg

During the IETF week, it was announced that the HTTP-state working group is being formed. It didn't actually happen on the actual meeting but still... See my separate blog post on http-state.

Multipath TCP

The idea and concept behind MPTCP was new to me but I quickly come to like the thought of getting this into network stacks around me. I hope this will grow up to become something fine! See my separate blog post on multipath tcp for all details.

IRI

I visited the IRI BOF and got some fine insights on the troubles of creating the IRI spec. Without revealing too much, it's quite clear sometimes that politics can be hard even in these surroundings...

tng - Transport Next Generation

What felt pretty "researchy" and still not really ready for adaption (or am I wrong?) is this effort they call Transport Next Generation. Their ideas include the concept of inserting a whole bunch of more layers into the typical network stuff, to for example move congestion handling into its own layer to be able to make it per network-segment basis instead of only doing end-to-end like today. Apparently they have tests and studies that suggest that the per network-segment basis can improve traffic a lot. These days a lot of the first part and last part of network accesses are done over wireless networks while the core center tends to still be physical cables.

DCCP

I found it interesting and amusing when they presented DCCP with all its bells and whistles, and then toward the end of the presentation it surfaces that they don't really know what DCCP would be used for and at the moment the work group is pretty much done but there's just nobody that's using the protocol...

HTTPbis

HTTPbis is more or less my "home" in the IETF. We had a meeting in which things were discussed, some decisions were made and some new topics were raised. RFC2616 is a monster of a spec and it certainly contains so much details, so many potentially conflicting statements and quite clearly very many implementers have interpreted sections differently, that doing these clarifications is a next to endless work. I figure the work will simply be deemed "done" one day, and the remaining confusions will then just be left. The good part is then that the new document should at least be heaps better than the former. It will certainly benefit future and existing HTTP implementers nonetheless.

And a bunch of the HTTPbis guys got together a bit outside of the meeting as well, so we get to talk quite a bit and top off the evening with a dinner...

OpenDNSSec

There was quite a lot of DNSSEC talk during the week, and it annoys me that I double-booked the evening they had their opendnssec release (or was it tech preview?) party so I couldn't go there and take advantage of my two free beers!

Observations

Apple laptops. A crushing majority of the people seemed to have Apple branded laptops, and nearly all presentations I saw were done with Apples.

Not too surprising, the male vs female ratio was very very high. I would guess 20:1 to 30:1, at least in those surrounding where I spent my time.

Upcoming Meetings

This week was lots of fun. More fun than I have had in a conference in a very long time. I'll definately consider going to some upcoming meetings, although the next one in Japan in November doesn't fit my schedule. Possibly Anaheim in March 2010 and even more likely the 78th meeting in Maastricht in July 2010.

Thanks everyone who was there. Thanks to the hosters for a great event. It was a blast!

Mine is More than Yours

So Redhat created and made this very interesting Open Source Activity Map available. It rates 75 countries' open sourceness based on "Government, Industry, and Community" and how good the countries are at open source. Sort of. The numbers are based on research done by Georgia Institute of Technology.

What does it give?

I'm a Swede who lives in Sweden and I can see that we're not generally that much into open source, but we're also a very small population compared to lots of other countries. But no, I cannot see how Finland or Norway are any further than we. What also puzzles me is how they even rate China before Sweden. The numbers that are provided don't appear to take population into account, or even participation level in open source projects.

Of course I realize I have but one view and my view is deeply skewed by the projects I work in and by the people I meet and I have never even tried to compare different countries' governments against each other in regards of open source so I figure I can't make a good comment on these results. What is weird is that there's simply almost no participants in open source projects from China (and several other Asian countries) and I've always thought that's primarily due to language barriers. Is this map then suggesting that those missing people make up for it in projects within their own language regions?

Or isn't it so that this map is more a map of comparing legislations and governments against each other, and no so much what actual people from these countries do in various projects? I would otherwise assume that us people in the western world have a small benefit from being close to the English language. Not to mention how those speaking native English can easily jump into most projects without thinking twice about language problems.

I think however that this is a very good idea. It brings issues to the open. What makes a country good for open source? What's needed to make my country better?

oss activity map