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September 22, 2009

The wonderful openSUSE Conference 2009

Filed under: Great Days — colyli @ 1:07 pm


In September 16-20, I was in Nuremberg Germany for openSUSE Conference 2009.

In previous years, Labs member attended SuSE Labs conference. This year, the Labs conference was cancelled and we were encouraged to attend openSUSE Conference. IMHO, more investment on openSUSE community is a great idea, we need more hands from community.

I was invited to give a talk, the topic was about the open source development activities among a group of Chinese university students in Beijing. In the past 4 years, a group of university students in Beijing University of Post and Telecommunication contribute quite a few to open source community. In my talk, I introduced how the people were grouped and how the technical seminars were organized, of cause including the Google Summer of Code projects in the past 2 years. The slide file and video of my talk can be found on the internet [1].

OSC09 was a great chance to meet other community members, especially some ones did excellent contributions but never met before. For example, I spend 4~5 happy hours every month to read the openSUSE Weekly News. The News content is well organized and prepared, especially the community news and people of openSUSE. During the conference. One day I took Tram to conference venue from SUSE office, on the Tram I met a very nice guy, wore a black openSUSE T-shirt. We talked about the openSUSE community and the Weekly News, I was supprised to know him as a Weekly News editor after his self introduction, I never though I had opportunity to meet these cool guys face to face! This was the wonderful side effect of this conference, and collaboration happened. I decided to send text to him when I had valuable News, therefore I remembered his name — Sascha Manns.

This year I acted as mentor of a Google Summer of Code project, to guide a student to port openSUSE to MIPS platform (I will mention the project detail in another blog). During the conference, I met another Google Summer of Code group (Jan-Simon Möller, Martin Mohring, Adrian Schröter) who ported openSUSE to ARM platform. The openSUSE ARM porting student gave a talk on the conference, to introduce their job. I got very helpful information from his talk, and from the discussion after the talk. When we ported openSUSE to MIPS, we used system mode QEMU as the target MIPS hardware for RPM package building, which was every slow. Building GCC even spent around 5 days! The ARM porting team used a very smart method, they used user mode QEMU. The user mode QEMU is able to run a normal program on x86 machine which compiled for ARM processor, without emulating the whole system, compiling GCC just spends 3~4 hours. Right now QEMU does not support 64bit user mode, before integrating MIPS support to OBS (OpenSUSE Build Service), enabling the 64bit MIPS user mode support for QEMU might be our next target.

Since 2008, I know there is a community board of openSUSE (the board definitely exists earlier). On the second day here was a session to meet openSUSE board. Before the session, the board members were only symbols/strings/names to me. This time I knew they were 6 people (IIRC, why not 5 or 7 seats?) and who they were. The difficulty for me was, I could remember their faces, but was not able to pronounce their names correctly. In the Q&A time, I suggested to mark the pronunciation of board members on openSUSE website. This might not be a good idea, but really helpful for non native English (or other language) speakers to identify the community board members.

On the last day, there was an interesting session — ‘openSUSE Legal’. In this session, Jürgen Weigert and other people explained how to comp with software patent, different software release license. In the past years, I tried to assemble source code from MINIX (BSD like license), Linux Kernel (GPL2)), uClibc (GLGPL) into a hobby OS. I asked a question on how to do with this condition. The answer was quite clear, 1) If I could get announcement from the code authors to use a unified license, the unified license could be used. Otherwise 2) declare different license for different code. I need to find quite a lot time to declare different license to MLXOS [2].

Besides the above topics, I also attended some other very interesting sessions, e.g. Tackling a Buggy Kernel by Nikanth Karthikesan, Making Technology Previews Succeed by Suresh Jayaraman, openSUSE & Moblin by Michael Meeks, Visualizing Package Dependencies by Klaus Kampf, Git in the Build Service by Andreas Gruenbacher, Samba by Lars Müller … The final light talk was also impressive to me, especially the awesome Baconn 🙂

For openSUSE community, the OSC09 is a great event, we have chance to do face to face communication, which is very helpful to people work closer. Thanks to Novell for the conference sponsorship, wish all people continue to enjoy the community.

[1] Slide file and video of my talk:
[2] MLXOS website:
[3] Conference schedule
[4] Pictures of OSC09

1 Comment »

  1. By the way you missed the point that your talk was considered one of the best talks of the Conference.. Great going!

    Comment by Suresh Jayaraman — December 11, 2009 @ 12:07 am

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