aLANtejo 2007, 19-21 October, Évora, Portugal

This weekend I will be in the beautiful city of Évora, for a new edition of the Open aLANtejo, the first one entirely dedicated to open source. The conference is one of the biggest IT events in Portugal and I had a great time there two years ago, when I was invited to give a talk about Gnome and to take part in a classical KDE vs. Gnome round table.

This year I was again kindly invited to give two talks: the first one, on Friday afternoon, about business models and sustainable free software development, taking Igalia as case study; and the second one, on Saturday afternoon, about the use of free software for mobile devices, discussing in detail GMAE, Gnome Mobile and Maemo.

The conference program looks very attractive, and I am looking forward to being there.

Master on Free Software

By the end of this week we will start the first edition of the Master on Free Software, organized in A Coruña by the Social Program of Caixanova, the University “Rey Juan Carlos” (URJC) and Igalia. Caixanova will provide the facilities and do the management, and the people at the Libresoft group of URJC and ourselves at Igalia will be in charge of the contents and teaching.

The Master is a one-year-long course targeted to people with software engineering (or similar) background that want to specialize on free software. Our experience shows that it is often the case that engineers have good general skills on software design and development but lack the specific knowledge needed to contribute to the free software ecosystem. All the teaching, with a very practical approach, will try to reduce that problem.

Of course, Gnome, Freedesktop, Gnome Mobile and Maemo will have a key role inside the course, and will be used as main case studies.

We also will have the collaboration from key people inside the community, like Miguel de Icaza, Richard Stallman, Carlos Guerreiro or Bdale Garbee among others, who will be involved in the adivising committee of the Master and will give seminars on subjects like Mono, the free software moviment, software patents, Maemo or Debian.

Some companies, like Sun Microsystems or Telefónica I+D are also contributing, giving some seminars and/or taking some o the students for an internship by the end of the course. New companies can still get involved: please, drop me a line if you are interested.

All the teaching material (written in English) is expected to be published with a free license.

This first year we will start with a very reduced amount of students, trying to keep the quality standards high, and setting the bases for consolidation during the next years.

I will try to keep sharing this teaching experience, closely related to the Gnome project, as the course evolves.

Lots of things, but no time to blog

Lots and lots of things have happened since the last time I managed to blog: Guadec Hispana at Granada, Guadec at rainy (felt like home) Birmingham, Gnome Foundation Advisory Board meetings, GMAE meetings, Gnome 10th birthday, OSiM at Madrid, AGASOL, and a bunch of interesting projects we are involved in at Igalia. I have just promised myself to book some time from now on to blog much more often.


Inside the Fisterra framework, we define a special kind of business objects, quite similar to Java’s “Enterprise Java Beans”, and we call them “Enterprise Gnome Barnacles”. “Gnome” cause they are heavily based on gobject and Gnome technologies, and “Barnacles” cause Percebes (“barnacles”, more specifically “gooseneck barnacles” in English) are a kind of seefood very popular in the village of Fisterra which gave name to the project.

When I explained this to the 40 people audience at CaFeConf 2006, nobody knew what a barnacle/percebe was! Nobody! So this post is devoted to those who have never seen and/or tried Percebes, for some, one of the tastiest kind of seafood.


Back from CaFeConf 2006

I have returned from CaFeConf and Buenos Aires (I will miss the city a lot). The conference is one of the biggest free software events celebrated yearly in Argentina, with about 2000 (yes, two thousand) people registered this year, and about 100 talks, tutorials and workshops -a lot of them in parallel- spread over two days. My two talks went nice.

On Friday after lunch I talked about the Gnome project, during 1 hour, in the main auditorium, with about 150 people in the audience. I presented the history of the project (10 years of Gnome), what is being done today (technologies, applications, organization), and which are the plans for the near future (“Topaz”, world domination, technical priorities, new functionality), but also included some practical aspects about Gnome Love and how people could get involved (including non technical tasks and trying to show that we want diversity). The slides are available for download (in Spanish, with material based on several previous talks about the project and my own talk at aLANtejo 2005); as you can see, I decided to use the great “Gnome is people” picture composition from Luis Villa to close the presentation, and people seemed to like it. I got a bunch of interesting questions about Mono, 3D animations, the relation between Gnome and GNU, and the cooperation between Gnome and Python. And my hope is that someone from the audience decided consider becoming a contributor to Gnome after seeing how nice and cool we are 😉 (according to a fast poll I did, 1/3 of the audience was a Gnome user, and no one was a contributor to the project).

Two hours later, I was talking about Fisterra, a framework strongly based on Gnome technologies which makes life easier for people wanting to use or develop ERP-like free software for business management. This time the presentation took place in a small auditorium, which was full, with about 40 people attending. I talked about the motivation of the project, the architecture, the development process, and even about the business model we propose for it. People showed a lot of interest, asking several questions about functionality, technology and the plans we have for the near future. The slides (also in Spanish, not very technically detailed and quite readable) are available for download.

In the conference I attended to a lot of talks, and had the opportunity to meet very nice people: I had a great time with Dario Rapisardi, from the LinEx project; it was nice to chat with the people from Tecso (main sponsors of the conference), a software development company pretty similar to Igalia in the way they are internally organized; and it was cool to meet Enrique “Gallego” Verdes an Uruguayan free software advocate with Galician roots.

I want to thank the organization, and specifically Martín Brambilla, for the great work they did.

Talks on Gnome and Fisterra at CaFeConf 2006

In a couple of weeks (10th of November) I will be giving two talks at CaFeConf, a free software event organized every year in Buenos Aires by the local lug (CaFeLUG). In one of them I will talk about the past, present and future of the Gnome project, and in the other one I will describe in detail the Fisterra project. I will provide further information on the contents of the talks soon, but you can already check the webpage of the event for more information.

I have to publicly thank Germán and Fernando for offering me to participate in the Chilean Gnome Day at the Encuentro Nacional de Linux, but it was too complex for me to be there cause the day after the event I fly back to Europe from Buenos Aires. I would have loved to meet them again and I hope to be able to make it for the next time.

Back from Guadec 2006

Long time no blog. My work load during the last three weeks, since we came back from Vilanova, has prevented me from writing anything about what happened there. So 20 days late, here is my summary.


About te BoFs I coordinated:

  • BoF on continuous integration for Gnome. It was a clear success. More than 30 people attending (and interested). We managed to get the participation of Thomas Vander Stichele, who has experience using BuildBot for Gstreamer, Frederic Peters, developer of jhAutoBuild, and our José Dapena, who has adapted jhbuild and tinderbox to Gnome. Luis Villa, who had been the continuous integration man for Gnome during the last years, was also there. Thus, as we had the right ingredients, the BuildBrigade (a working group -with already more than 10 members- inside Gnome, in charge of the creation and promotion of an automatic build environment for the project) was created. The general requirements and ideas were agreed during the BoF, and the same afternoon we got together again for deciding about the technical details and the first steps to carry out. I have to say I am very happy with the results of the BoF. Stay tuned! [The slides I used are available here]
  • BoF on the development of business applications with/in Gnome. Quite successful. About 20 people attending. We spent 1 hour talking about how the development of business (ERP-like) applications (using Gnome technologies) relate to the development of the Gnome platform. Lorenzo Gil, creator of Gazpacho, Fernando San Martín, developer of PyGestor and a bunch of Fisterra developers were there. Unfortunately other people interested like Johan Dahlin from the projects Kiwi and Stoq, or Murray Cumming from Glom could not make it for the BoF. There are different approaches for the development of that kind of applications, but in general the feeling was that we have things that could -and should- be shared (knowledge, patterns, marketing, widgets, libraries, and so on); also, the feeling was that they could and should be shared probably inside Gnome. The goal now is to create permanent channels for continuing the discussion and finding out what and how we should share results among projects. [The slides I used are available here]

In general I liked the conference very much. My five favorite talks were:

And I should not forgot to mention that we (the marine blue team) won The Other WorldCup with a very effective mix of catenaccio and total football 😉

Therefore, a lot of new experiences, people, projects and opportunities. I am looking forward to Guadec 2006 in Birmingham (and also to the Guadec Hispana, which will take place a few days before in Granada).

Guadec 2006: ideas for the Business software with Gnome BoF

Yesterday I talked about the BoF on continuous integration. Also on Thursday 29th I will be coordinating another BoF on developing software for enterprises with Gnome (10:00-11:00 in the Sala d’Actes).

By “software for enterprises” here we refer to ERP-like software.

From Wikipedia: Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs) integrate (or attempt to integrate) all data and processes of an organization into a single unified system. A typical ERP system will use multiple components of computer software and hardware to achieve the integration. A key ingredient of most ERP systems is the use of a single, unified database to store data for the various system modules.

This vertical software can be more or less complex, but it has normally quite a lot of diferences with most of the horizontal desktop applications. It is database-oriented and sometimes needs complex three-tier architectures and is deployed using several machines.

There are some projects related to Gnome (and using Gnome core technologies) that in some way have the business management software as one of their targets:

  • Glom: fast development of database oriented applications with a simple architecture.
  • Gazpacho: was born to make the development of business applications GUI easier.
  • Kiwi / Stoq: framework for creating GUI applications and example business oriented software using it.
  • Fisterra: a development framework for creating complex three tier business software using Gnome without needing to reinvent the wheel.
  • Other proprietary or non published developments of business software using Gnome.

They follow different approaches but all of them try to make easier the development of business applications using Gnome technologies.

In the BoF, some of the main discussion topics could be:

  • Is there anything in GNOME that could be improved in order to make it more friendly for the development of this kind of applications?
  • Which are the different approaches for solving the need of that kind of software, and which are the advantages or disadvantages of each of them?
  • Should GNOME as a project provide the third party developers with recommendations on how to use the development framework for data oriented applications?
  • Should the business management software projects be part of the GNOME project itself or they should be better outside it and leave it as a very desktop oriented project?
  • Would it make sense to have a Gnome-BusinessManagementSoftware kind of working group with the usual mailing list, web page,and working agenda?
  • And any other topic that the people attending could find interesting.

If you are interested in Gnome not only as a desktop but also as a way of making better (potentially complex) data-oriented applications, you should participate in this BoF 🙂
I will be flying to Barcelona in a few hours, see you at Guadec!