Older blog entries for DV (starting at number 196)

GNOME marketing list

I have been co-managing this list with Jeff for a few weeks now, and I am suprized by the momentum there, first there is around 2 new subscription per day in average, and we reached 150 subscribers today. GNOME promotion is growing, this is a nice feeling !

LinuxTag

I was in Karlsruhe for Linux tag on Thursday and Friday. Even if it may sound a bit silly to drive 1200km for just 2 days there I still think it was worth it. I didn't had that much time to wander around, I was in a day long meeting organized by the iDABC the first day, did a presentation on Xen the second day for the Fedora Conference and worked a bit on the Red Hat booth. The GNOME booth was well-staffed, nice to see Murray, Swen and the volunteers showing 2.10 to visitors, but we need Fedora based bootable CD (not DVD) to be able to demo and give away on a large scale, Ubuntu is nearly getting a monopoly at this point. Oh and the CD duplication machine was amazing, whoever managed to get that machine lent to us, THANKS to you and the volunteers ! Notably missing at the expo was Novell, it was a bit strange, I also could not spot a booth dedicated to Debian, though there was for sure a lot of Debian logos and Tee-Shirt around.

the European Union iDABC

The acronym hides the fact that this is a program from the European Commision about electronic governement services. The ABC mean Administration Businesses and Citizens, i.e. the scope is relatively wide, though they are really providing guidelines to Public Administrations. Of course the deployement and development of Open Source software is a hot topic, if not a hot potato, for them. I was invited by Barbara Held to participate, as the topic was about how software developped within the EU should be made open source (or developped in an open fashion). There interesting discussions about building sourceforge like collaborative site for european administrations, and also on a draft of a new OSS License, apparently the existing ones don't really match the needs of the governements, yes it's annoying to get yet another License, but the mismatch seems to have been blocking existing efforts toward open-sourcing exitsing code bases so this is really needed. The very positive point is that the language of the License is understandable by mere mortals and very clear/well structured, I just asked for a specific provision against submarine patents. It was interesting to discuss with some of the Brussels and various local governement representative, and to see Intel/Sun/IBM/Microsoft doing their lobbying parade. Good to see we had some real OSS advocates like Leon Shirman and Anne Østergaard around too. The burning hot potato of open office document formats wasn't discussed, at least not in the main track, but this a domain iDABC has been working on of course.

You can learn more about the iDABC online, they also have a special section dedicated to Open Source with a number of resources and case studies (and are looking for more case studies so if you have OSS adoption examples in the european public sector to share please contact them).

On a related note the City of Munich has an Open Source page related to their migration, and with various documents. This is of course watched closely by a lot of public sector administrations.

Xen and Linux virtualization

My talk on the second day was about Xen the OS virtualization layer and its inclusion in Fedora Core. Unfortunately my talk started 30mn before the published schedule so a lot of people rushed in in the middle of the presentation, sorry for those who misssed the beginning, but the slides are online. The room was fully packed at the end, obviously people are eager to learn about Xen, and Xen has the potential to change a lot of things, to take Daniel Glazman's terms this is a Disruptive Innovation, not virtualization in itself as it's a well known and deployed technology in the mainframe world for decade, but the fact it comes nearly without price to the standard and cheap PC platform. Moreover their recent work on migrating VM between machines within a cluster opens the door to a number of changes in the way we do computing, this is very exciting and since we are only at the beginning of the deployment phase this is a domain where new comers have an opportunity to get involved in something exciting and make a difference. But to learn more about this I really suggest people go look and read the most recent publications from the Xen group in Cambridge research lab especially those about Xen-3.0 roadmap and about live migration of VMs, it's IMHO amazing !

A wedding

Congratulations to Damien and Jonita, and enjoy your vacations !

and a burial ?

Condoleance to our friends in Iran, I don't know how we will be able to help, I just hope it won't have too much of an impact. What I really don't understand is how this can happen in a country where women have the right to vote, is there vote statistics available to try to understand town vs. countryside, sex, age influence on people's vote. Of course those who didn't vote deserve the right to be ignored (I had to go vote for Chirac in the last presidential election here to block the ultra right wing, and still feel bitter about this but this is democracy rules).

Libxml2 vacations

I'm on vacations until Friday, the goal is to clean some of the backlogs of bugs I have on libxml2, libxslt and make new releases as people have been asking and waiting for those. Weather forecast is 37C in Grenoble on Tuesday, I refuse to install aircon on principles ground but this is gonna be nasty. Lot of sweat ahead ...

One of those days

You know those day where even before finishing your coffee you get a nasty bug report, then you try to debug it and immediately step onto another serious problem, and the ball keeps rolling until you realize it's way past lunch, and this continue with an avalanche of mails, bug reports once you get back to the keyboard... till the end of the day. Yeah, that was one of those days, I probably didn't do more than the usual days but end up wasted, though happy to have survived. On the nice side a long but good GNOME board meeting at the end.

The positive side is that I'm on vacations till next Monday, away from the Internet, laptop fully loaded with mail archives, CVS checkout, Fedora Core 4 and Xen, so I will probably do some work anyway. I'm visiting my father retired in the mountains.

Fedora Core 4 Release

Seems to be a very successful release. I'm watching the traffic on (fr.)rpmfind.net, currently around 9MBytes/s maxing the pipe out, with a load average around 100, still responsive even if with only 512MB of memory the disk holding Fedora is trashing a bit (good old RHEL3 box). I was surprized how fast the demand kicked in, from the time I flipped the access bit the downloads reached 60Mbps in approximately 60 seconds. Maintaining a server and watching the good bits spread is a nice feeling :-) , it's less personal than a maintainer release but the raw volumes of those release is impressive, we will have to watch the numbers from the bittorent trackers, and the load at the ISP levels in the next few days.

My last blog really didn't go into technical matters, here is some news thanks to Drivel

libxml2 progress: Schemas

Thanks to Kasimier Buchcik, there is a lot of progresses there, he integrated the new version of the W3C/NIST regression tests which show some serious progresses (current CVS):

## Running XML Schema tests (NIST)
Ran 23170 of 23170 tests (3953 schemata): 32 failed ( 2 internal )
## Running Schema tests (Sun)
Ran 193 of 193 tests (40 schemata): 41 failed ( 9 unimplemented 14 skip-invalid-schema )
## Running Schema tests (Microsoft)
Ran 7230 of 7230 tests (4686 schemata): 1236 failed ( 50 unimplemented 50 skip-invalid-schema ) 4 leaks

XSD is excruciatingly hard to implement, in a large part because the specification is nearly impossible to understand (at least for the structure part), getting most of the NIST test is a serious achievement (and some of the remaining problems are my fault especially about \n handling in regexps).

Also coming but not yet finalized API wise is streaming of Schemas validation. It should be available at the xmlReader level soon, and probably at the SAX level too, this is something which has lot of value for some corporate users. it's interesting to see the interest growing there. To put that in comparison, libxml2 is also being ported to Symbian the tiny embedded system OS, it was also interesting to hear from the Nokia person who did the "port" of libxml2 on the 770, if he compiled without Schemas support there would be failures on the Gnome desktop, I'm wondering what in Gnome is using Schemas (or RelaxNG they share
the configure switch).

gamin: trying to reach a stabilization phase

I released gamin-0.1.1 last Friday, if fix yet another desktop UI regression, and will be pushed to Fedora Core updates. Gamin should not work on a variety of kernel back-end (dnotify, inotify, MacOS-X and BSD kqueue, and Hurd/Mach), it's hard to make sure all platforms are equal but the regression tests are expanding as new bugs are hit, I'm getting increasingly more confidence on the dnotify based behaviour even if dnotify itself is really an ugly interface.

11 Jun 2005 (updated 11 Jun 2005 at 12:36 UTC) »


Blogs

It has been months since my last blog. I just installed Drivel 2.0, this rocks.
Sorry for the very long entry, I have a terrible backlog, here you are !

Vacations

In April I took a couple of weeks of vacations, first I went to Hong Kong for a week, William Brack and his wife took great care of me, we visited a lot of places in the peninsula, ate fantastic food, and went to Shenzen special economic area of China. I must say I got very impressed by that week there, on a variety of aspects, cultural, economic even the landscape and how completely overcrowded towns (from an european viewpoint) and nature are intermixed. It changed my perspective on quite a few point, I know understand better how China is just affecting everybody's life on the planet (for good and bad). It reinforced my belief that maybe we will be able to preserve our culture here, but there is no way we will be able to preserve the manufacturing industry, we must shift even more to services, high-tech and customer oriented work, or we will loose any capacity to sustain our current standard of living.

In comparison the next week in Ko Tao island in Thailand was very quiet, I enjoyed relaxing, snorkeling, and food. The coral reef there is very well preserved, and being in the Siam Gulf they were not affected by the tsunami.

I took approximately 700 MByte of pictures during those 2 weeks, including underwater, everything is in my April folder 11 to 19 is Hong Kong, 19 to 24 is Ko Tao.

Flowers

Since my anniversary last September, I have orchids at home again, I resurected one of the small green house now sitting in my office here next to my desk. I have been fairly successful so far, 3 of them are blooming right now one white phalaenopsis a gift from my mother in October is having a new set of flowers, another pink phalaenopsis from chrismas is still blooming (yes it held flowers for nearly 7 months in a row now) and a Zygopetalum I bought in November is having 3 flowers again. I also discovered the miltassia (hybrid of Miltonia and brassia) which started the set is about to get new flowers too. I also planted a rose and iris on the balcony, I love iris and finally managed to get one good picture of them. The S50 is making
really crisp images once it gets focus, but in macro mode it's a hell to get it to actually focus where it should and not 10cm behind.

GUADEC

Was fantastic. It wasn't without issues, but from the audience it was truely good. Congratulation to all the people who made that event. Now we need to make sure everything goes into place for the next one.

GNOME Summit at MIT

First the dates announced in the advisory board meeting were wrong, sorry about that, the event will be held 8, 9, 10 of October, at MIT, Cambridge MA, USA. Second we need to coordinate with our corporate partners and try to give some highlight topic, for example they are interested in the performance aspects (those who discussed with Nokia understand the trade-off on embedded devices are different, and it is clear Sun is also looking at it from a network oriented standpoint). It is clear that UI stability though regression testing is also a goal shared by the corporates behind GNOME, and if we plan to discuss those
topics we will get their involvement in the event and lots of their engineers will show up.

On trust

I think trusting each other on an invidual basis is the key to keep the project successful, that's something I repeated in all my board candidacy statement, I'm afraid lack of trust between individuals can seriously harm the project, I won't get into any details though. I have only one message "be friendly, trust other people, don't assume hidden agendas".

To telsa

I can't tell for others, I missed you at GUADEC, please keep your blog (hum, I would not say I'm examplary there :-), we love you !

Mountains

That time of the year the mountains around Grenoble are georgeous, I took the cat up there last week-end, and will probably do the same this week.

Astrolabe

That's my toy app to find office documents on the desktop. It's not a beagle replacement more an experiment into GTK programming, playing with UI code (PyGTK rocks, excellent documentation !). I like the name, it's an old navigation instrument used before sextants were invented there is sone very nice pictures on wikipedia (english).

Feeling burnt out

I spent most of last week chasing bugs in libxml2, libxslt and gamin. Finally made new releases libxml2-2.6.19 and libxslt-1.1.14 . Still chasing some issues with gamin. But I'm exhausted and overall starting to feel nauseus about the way people interract with me, gamin bugs that are not entered in GNOME bugzilla, Jdub caracterizing me as "not hugely responsive", even stating "Even the Red Hat desktop team are not getting traction from him on this one." i.e. the colleagues instead of putting bug out prefer to rant on my inability to fix unreported things ; and now I get flamed because libxml2 API python API is "ugly", crashes, etc... One very seldomly get thanks when things work, but you sure get the crap if there is anything wrong.

I'm tempted to raise a big FUCK OFF flag at this point. If ignoring feddback, IRC and just looking at the complete bug reports is the only way to retain one's sanity when trying to do open source development, then so be it. I will just note that historically, as Linux (the kernel) project grew, the communication channel between those who where doing it and those who were using it decoupled more and nore. Maybe it's normal, maybe it's the way to not waste too much time on communication issues. I note that a number of old time GNOME developpers are less and less on IRC, only sitting on specialized list, for those still around the project at all. I still find this sad and I'm having that really bad feeling at the moment, maybe I hould just not care, it's a job, and take it purely like it.

Anyway I will be on vacations in a few days nearly till the end of April, I am really looking forward it since I'm really fed up at this point. Maybe I will be ready to continue to take the crap after that, but I may as well change the way I do things when I return.

Free Software and diversity

There have been lot of fuss recently around the GNOME project concerning how such a project should be run, who participates, etc. Of course there have been the mess about Eugenia article, i.e. how the project should get input and make technical decisions (trying to avoid the most inflamatory part and focuse on the interesting aspects), but to me what is really important is who is making the project. To me open-source is a process, but an open-source (or free software it's equivalent there) project is a set of people, and the project is the sum of the people activities. That's why I found Anne Østergaard post on the foundation list more interesting, that's also why I'm really concerned that on the GNOME worldwide map there is only:

  • one person for the whole Africa and Mddle-East
  • two persons for China-Japan-Korea

We need to understand why we are not an attractive project for those part of the population. For women I can't evaluate why it is so, except I followed the "classical" Math/Physic and later Computer Science studies track here and as it was getting closer to core CS stuff the ratio of women student decreased from 50% general studies, 25% in Maths/Physics, 10% in CS engineering, 5% for CS doctorate, and a couple per cent apparently in OSS projects. Seems women have a hard time taking this geek stuff seriously, but when they do, well they do it very well. Maybe the key to get women involved is to prove it does have an effect and reduce the visible part of flamewar and pissing contest around (i.e. grow up !).

For Africa/Middle-East/Asia involvement, I don't understand well either what is missing, first it's so diverse that it certainly can't be reduced to a single cause. I'm really worried that we don't have one korean person showing on that map, this is one of the country where the Internet is the most integrated in the society, Linux has a serious deployment there, why is there no GNOMEs ? My main fear would be that we are showing a cultural bias upfront, and what can we do to solve this ? Should www.gnome.org be translated in a variety of languages with localized subsite ? According to the translation statistics, GNOME is 100% transalted in korean, so obviously there are people behind that, but that community does not show up. Why ?

I'm afraid I have only question but no real answers, honnestly I would prefer we spent energy trying to understand why we don't grow the community, rather than growing the difference in opinions within the existing community out of proportion (which is where I think Eugenia's attitude is really really wrong).

Sometime users are obnoxious too, I got a fantastic example on bugzilla this week (no link, no :-) , usually it is still worth trying to discuss even if it seems to go nowhere, I think that's how one can grow long term respect.

The 2.10 release

Was clearly a success, there have been some hiccups, but we are improving over time, this is very comforting and congratulation to everybody involved !

The ISO CDs were as far as I can tell based on my server acccesses a really really good idea, this need to be integrated as part of the release process if possible so that luis can sleep a bit the weeks during releases :-) !

Furious w.r.t. the Software Patent handling of the EC

Clearly we are all getting endangered by this. It also show how little consideration we get from the European Commision. I wrote emails to EU elected representatives, people I voted for, never got an answeri even automated :-(. I used to be enthusiatic about the european construction, in practice I'm afraid it allows just politicians to dilute their responsabilities, and then they are in heaven to take advantage of their position without being at risk legally. I think I will end-up voting against the European constitution here, and really really I would not have expected this a few months ago.

In the list of industrial "partners" who can now forget getting direct help from me about libxml2 or other open source projects, there is a nice list at EICTA:

07/03/2005: EICTA welcomed today's decision by the EU Competitiveness Council to adopt a Common Position
on the proposed Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions.

This list some of our "friends" like IBM, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Alcatel, Bull, Apple, Cisco, Canon, Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Motorola, Nec, Phillips, SAP, Siemens, Thomson, Toshiba. I'm in a positively furious mood at the moment and looking for possible retaliation (yes I'm really unhappy). So what can I do to express my miscontentment, and tell those "allies" that I would like them to play by the rule. One of the thing I can do is send them a nice mail each time that anyone from those companies asks for help about some of my code, telling them that I can only afford to give help in the framework of a legally binding contract with my corporate employeer. Anyway I doubt an isolated action is likely to help anybody, only concerted wide scale and clearly directed action might help. What would be the effect if 80% of the open-source projects maintainers would just refuse to help those company outside of a paying contract.

Anyway I don't expect a large scale revolt agaisnt this though I would like to be surprised, I think I will just set-up a web page on veillard.com explaining why I won't give free support anymore to some companies, and just use that as a canonical answer to mail coming from them. This won't block people from asking from a personal email for example if they wish.

the foot trademark issue

As luis pointed I asked the board to get the right to print T-Shirt for computer events. I made the request in a sufficiently scoped fashion that I think the lawyers should not oppose this. Then if this go though I want to expose this wording so others can get the same kind of approval for local geek show. But I don't think I flamed the board (I would have to flame myself, ouch !), I'm just trying to get a process which others can follow to achive GNOME marketing without making risk on the trademark.

FOSDEM

FOSDEM was huge, as expected, a lot of things going on in parallel, I could not talk to all the people I intended to chat with :-\, still managed to listen to some nice talks, make a talk on libxml2/libxslt and a speed talk on gamin. I need to put them on-line and update veillard.com Talks section.

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