Archive for April, 2010

Upcoming Conferences

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

With the FSFE’s Amsterdam Legal Workshop 2010 behind us and Akademy-BR evidently a great (if rainy) success, it’s time to look forward again. Spring, new life, birds a-cheepin’, etc.

Let’s look at the beginning of may: Linux Audio Conference in Utrecht, for sound junkies of all shapes. Phonon? Nope. But Reinhold Kainhofer — once of KPilot and KDE PIM — is speaking on music notation standards. I should drop by — I still owe him 20 EUR for domain registrations. Lots of other things that make me think “gosh, people do that on computers too?”

Right after the LAC you could move to Ede (about 24 minutes by train) for the NLUUG Spring Conference on System Administration with the LHC on tap. Yes, it needs system administration as well if it’s ever going to blow up the world.

There’s a gap then — fill me in, folks — and end of May will see the Ubuntu 10.04 release party on the 29th. That should keep everyone busy and I’ve got some Ubuntu Thinking Putty to inflict on various people there.

A Return to FreeBSD

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

After a great deal of procrastinating, I’ve rearranged my home office again and restored my FreeBSD machine to its rightful place under the desk. It must have been switched off for several months now, as the update (buildworld for 7- and 8- as well as portupgrade -aPP) is taking forever. There’s a reason for running through this routine: there are a few things I want to test with systems upgrades and jails. In addition, I’d like to document how the EBN is set up, to the level of detail of including package names. This is part of an effort to clean up the EBN code and separate the tools from the website a little; that in turn is in advance of adding some new features to Krazy / EBN in general.

It’s kind of nice to be back on FreeBSD again. I’ll have to take note and compare the FreeBSD KDE packages with the OpenSolaris ones I produce.

PS. There’s nothing like cleaning your desk with a shovel and just dumping everything in a box never to be looked at again. I did retrieve several Bluetooth dongles and SD cards that I’d thought lost.

EBN up again

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The EBN machine is up again. Will Stephenson pointed out how the API documentation can be generated locally which takes away one reason for the machine (because the machine serves up The value of the on-line version comes from multiple versions, indexing, searchability (although the PHP stuff that drives the search is rather poor, so that’s been on the stuff-to-fix-sometime for a long time), and saving you time in generating the whole shebang. The scripts and styling get occasional tweaks, too, to improve the API documentation. As always comments are welcome, patches are welcomer.

The machine does some other things, such as serving up my personal website (not updated in a gazillion years since I blog on FSFE’s Fellowship blogging platform) and that of Sebastian Kügler.

The main CPU load on the machine is running Krazy, the KDE code quality checker. It still produces lots of warnings and small items to fix in the KDE codebase. Sometimes I see people committing whole bunches of Krazy fixes. I recently saw it referred to as “KDE’s level grind”, which is a pretty good description in the sense that it was originally intended to find and explain the kind of low-hanging fruit you can fix on a Friday afternoon.

One last thing the machine does is provide the OpenSolaris packages for KDE4 as well. For this I ported pkg.depotd(8) to FreeBSD some time ago, but it’s starting to show its age and I think I’ll have to start running an actual OpenSolaris on the machine at some point. That means fiddling around with the available virtualization options and possibly updating and rebooting the machine repeatedly. If VirtualBox gives any measure of performance under FreeBSD, that’ll be it (because that simplifies updating from home where I also use it).

So, you may ask: what was the cause of this extended downtime? How can we prevent this from happening again? Well, one thing to fix it would be donating a 1U 4×3.5″ SATA disk server chassis with redundant power. Right now — thanks to being hosted in the “random crap” rack — there’s a little mini-tower thing doing the job, and it turned out to have a dodgy power cord. Some shifting and pushing-around of cables in the rack caused a momentary disconnect, which panicked the server and left it at a fsck(8) prompt for a while. This means, perhaps, that I should try to configure the system with “noauto” on the affected file systems, so that it comes up with reduced functionality even if the disk array is toast. Two other really important points: configure serial console support so that the ILOM can get at it and remember the ILOM password. Cue jumpering the server to reset the password and all the Fun that entails.

Anyway, it comes down to a few decisions made three years ago caused this downtime to be longer than expected. It’s up again, decisions have been amended, and we’re good to go for another three, I hope.

Amsterdam Legal Workshop

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Conference group photoThe third edition of the FTF’s Amsterdam Legal Workshop is behind us. Two days of excellent weather (for Amsterdam in April, anyway), good food and in-depth legal wrangling on a variety of to pics. Like patents and how to work to defuse them for businesses and Free Software projects. Canonical kindly provided the nicest lawyer in Europe and a speaker who could rush 168 slides in 20 minutes, so their input is greatly appreciated as well. It was good to see friends from HP as well for the engineers-and-lawyers perspective.

Each year the event brings in new faces and new topics, and we’ve grown to the point where we have traditions and can afford a little bit of silliness amongst the serious talks and the networking and the hashing-out-of-issues-left-hanging-elsewhere. So near the end of the conference I got to hand out custard cream cakes of merit and one attendee asked me “so where’s your pink whip?” That, though, would mean spilling too much KDE over into the FSFE, which is something that’s not going to happen.

That picture over there is the group photo — at least, the one I can publish, because I haven’t cleared the publishing rights to pictures of the conference participants nor the (potentially copyrighted) images on their T-shirts. And of course, even a room full of happy lawyers should not be provoked.

Planning is getting underway for next year already — that was my big failure this year, to get started early enough, so this is overcompensating a little — and we’re aiming for the same week of April, 2011 (say the 7th and 8th). Next year Easter is much later, so the workshop and the holiday clash less. Location to be decided — if we’re ever going to break free of Amsterdam, it needs to be done now.

Amsterdam Legal Workshop

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Today is the first day of the Amsterdam Legal Workshop — in full I suppose that’s called the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Freedom Task Force European Legal Network yearly workshop in Amsterdam. As in 2008 and 2009, we have a room full of the top lawyers and technologists in the Free Software legal field. Thanks to the organizational efforts of Shane, Karsten, Hugo and Rainer we’ve got a full two days of talks and demonstrations. As in past years, new relationships develop as we bring different parties to a neutral, private conference. We also take stock of where we are on a global scale with respect to Free Software licensing and legal issues. Glyn Moody was kind enough to open up the conference with a talk on the (singular) conversion from analogue to digital which — as is Glyn’s wont — ties together the past and future and fields of law, biology and computer science. And from there, we’ve gone off into deep legal territory which I won’t write about, but it’s an education.