Debian 7.0 "wheezy" has been released this weekend!
Quite a few new Debichem packages are now available in a stable Debian release for the first time:
I am currently sitting in the train to Goslar, where the German Conference on Cheminformatics will take place. As part of the Free Software Session, I will give a session on DebiChem. This is the first I attend this conference and I am looking forward to meet Noel O'Boyle and hopefully others from the community.
In light of this, I have packaged and uploaded RDKit and Cinfony over the last weeks and also updated the Debichem task pages, introducing a Cheminformatics Task at the same time. I feel we still need at least tasks for Chemical Education (to expose e.g. Kalzium more prominently), and possibly Protein Docking and Crystallography. So if you have experience/opinions in these fields (or want to propose other fields), drop me a mail or contact us at email@example.com.
The next day, I picked up Martin Michlmayr nearby and we headed for FrOSCon. I was quite impressed by the Makerbot at the Tarent booth, but I still don't know what they are really doing and why they had it on display... In the afternoon, I attended a couple of talks in the PostgreSQL developer room and a talk about a big OpenVPN deployment, before ending the day with the excellent as always social event barbeque. On Sunday, I went to quite a few talks, but I thought that two of them were particularly interesting:
Michael "Monty" Widenius of MySQL gave a talk titled "Why going open source will improve your product" about starting businesses on an open source project, or how business can/should open-source their product. Besides a detailed discussion about the various forms of Open Source licenses and the Open-Core model, he proposed the idea of "Business Source" (see slide 20 of his presentation), where a startup would distribute the source code under a non-commercial (but otherwise open-source) license with the explicit guarantee that the license would be changed to a true FLOSS license at some defined point in the future, giving the company a head start to develop and nurture their project. I asked whether this has been already implemented in practise and how the community could be sure that e.g. lawyers after a hostile takeover would not just remove that part of the copyright notice, as long as a true distribution under a FLOSS license has not happened yet. Monty wasn't aware of any real-word cases, and he did not seem to be concerned about this and said the original intent would be clear in a possible court case. This was the first time I heard about this approach, I wonder how other people think about it, whether it would work in practise and be a useful thing to have?
Second, I attended a talk by Gregor Geiermann, a Ph.D. student in linguistics on "Perceptions of rudeness in Free Software communities". He conducted an online survey about the perceived rudeness of several forum thread posts on Ubuntu Forums. Survey participants were first asked a couple of generic questions about their gender, nationality etc. and were then presented with a series of posts. For each post, they were asked to rate how rude they thought it was on a scale of 1 to 5 and they also had the possibility to highlight the parts of the post they considered rude as well as add comments. He presented a neat web application for analyzing the results, which makes it possible to select different groups (he did male vs. female and Americans vs. Germans in the talk) and have their overall rudeness ratings as well as the highlighted texts visualized as different shades of blue. Comments can be easily accessed. There were quite a few interesting differences e.g. in how Germans perceived rudeness compared to Americans (RTFM comments were considered less rude by Germans for example, IIRC). In response to my question, he said he intended to release the web application as open source and this might be an interesting tool for FLOSS projects to analyze how their public communication channels are perceived by various groups. Unfortunately, I cannot find any other resources about this on the web as of today, so I should try to contact him about it at some point.
Last weekend, I was at the Debian Med Meeting in Travemünde near Lübeck, thanks to an invitation by Steffen Möller and Andreas Tille.
It was a great opportunity to finally meet Steffen and some of the other bioinformatics people in Debian like Manuel Prinz face-to-face for the first time. Also, lots of upstream and related bioinformatics packagers from e.g. Biolinux were present as well, many of them from the UK.
I discussed with and helped some people about Debian packaging. There is a big push to get Debian packages done and integrated in Debian and Ubuntu, but often enough people are not exactly sure what the requirements are and what needs to be done. Hopefully, the sprint was successful to clear things up and move forward.
I also managed to finalize the initial Jmol packaging and uploaded it to Debian towards the end of the sprint. I plan to update the other bioinformatics related packages in debichem like pymol and openbabel as soon as squeeze is released.
Overall, it was a great weekend, many thanks to NERC and Debian for making it possible, and to Steffen Möller for organizing it!
The success of the international climate conference in Cancun appears to be a great (and desperately needed) leap forward in the struggle to preserve our climate. At least news sources in Germany marvel at the very much unexpected and bigger-than-hoped outcome of the final declaration.
However, I keep wondering whether this could also be the first big success of Wikileak's power: what if Cablegate's timely leakage of the US and China's double-game at the Kopenhagen summit has scared their delegations so much they did not dare to repeat the backstabbing of the climate conference a second (or thrice?) time - in fear of their actions being defaced another time next year?
If this was the case, one could either call this Diplomacy by Fear or Diplomacy by Transparency - I choose to pick the latter. And if it indeed turns out Wikileaks had been the prime source behind a success for our planet, nominating the organization for the Nobel Peace prize does not look so absurd to me as it did last week.
So, DebConf is over and it was a blast. I wanted to blog about my talks for a couple of days, but the conference was so great that I did not get around to it until now.
The unique thing about this year's conference were the outstanding contributions by non-Debian FLOSS people from the east coast. I am really glad the organizers decided to reach out to the communi ty and take this opportunity when a lot of great minds were just a couple of hours away. Also, discussing and hanging out with the local team people was so much fun and interesting that it was wor th the visit alone.
The venue was just perfect, the dorms were on campus, the cafeteria had an all-you-can-eat buffet, everything was in short walking distance and the Columbia campus is beautiful. I would have liked to go to a couple more places in the evenings, but hanging out in the Carman basement lounge with awesome people was just as good. A big thanks to Richard Darst, Biella, Micah and the rest of the crew.
The Debian GNU/Hurd talk went quite well, I was pleasantly surprised so many people made it to the Davis auditorium. I wanted to do the presentation on Debian GNU/Hurd (and I had it working before the talk), but as my notebook has a different resolution than the projector, I decided to play it safe and just show a d-i run in qemu. Nevertheless, Jeremie's wo rk on debian-installer is impressive, I got it installed on my ThinkPad without a problem (using qemu) and it automatically installed and setup grub2. Unfortunately, grub2 seems to be having issues when booting my notebook natively, but I got it to work with grub-legacy, including X and evince.
There were quite a few comments and I had interesting conversations afterwards with a couple of people. It is a shame Emilio Pozuelo Monfort (pochu) could not make it to DebConf to give the talk himself, he did lots of great work on porting packages and fixing the Hurd and glibc for various testsuites over the last couple of months.
My other talk about GOsa and FAI was a bit rougher, I scrambled to get FAI integration in GOsa to work based on Mark Pavlichuk'sinstallation scripts which I fixed up over the last couple of weeks to the point where one can install a client using the FAI simple demo classes (which I ported to GOsa's FAI LDAP). There were some problems with the demonstration during the talk and I guess it was a tough audience for a web-based admin tool but I hopefully got my point across that we should salvage this work done for the city of Munich. Indeed, I had great discussions with Andreas Mundt from debian-edu afterwards who posted a summary and call for discussion to the debian-edu mailing list.
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
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If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!