Thursday, September 22, 2011

My openSUSE conference

Last week was the openSUSE conference in N├╝rnberg. Here are some of my impressions. I loved the relaxed, crazy atmosphere, mixing so many different people with so many different backgrounds, skills, interests, and fascinating projects. This spans quite a broad range of topics, not only on the software side from kernel to office suite, but also in other areas from cheese over quadrocopters to self-replicating machines. This community is seriously rocking the boat.

openSUSE Conference 2011: All openSUSE- and Free Software enthusiasts are invited to come together at this conference to learn, hack and have a lot of fun.

I gave two presentations at the conference. The first was about Polka, my humane address book for the cloud, which I mostly wrote during the last SUSE hack week. I explained the concept of addressing the problem from the user's side, not from an implementation point of view. Humans don't think about people in terms of vCards, but in terms of groups, pictures, time, and space. The Polka user interface reflects that.

I also did the first release of Polka during my presentation live on stage. So if you want to try it, go to the Polka home page and download the tarball. It's an early release, but it should work quite well. I intend to stabilize it a bit more and then do a 1.0 release. If you find bugs, please let me know.

The other talk I gave was a lightning talk in the Speedy Geeko session. Twenty slides in five minutes. This was fun. There were a nice variety of topics, including bees, fire fighters, and crazy scotsmen. My talk was about Maria Montessori, the Italian educator, who founded the Montessori schools. A lot of the concepts from her philosophy of education have interesting parallels in what we do in open source development.

There were many more talks. I only had a chance to listen to a few of them, but I enjoyed Greg's talk about the Kernel and Tumbleweed (change faster to be more successful), and Martin's talk about Wayland (wait until it's done, and then wait some more). Dominik showed the latest from SUSE Studio in a presentation and we also had the kiosk at the venue, which always is a great way to show, explore, and explain Studio.

Another great thing was that there were so many KDE people at the conference. It shows the strong relationship of openSUSE and its upstream projects, and KDE makes some excellent use of openSUSE, e.g. as base for Plasma Active. This is a great fit, and I think it's hard to underestimate how important collaboration between downstream and upstream is. We'll only win together.

Finally it was great to feel the enthusiasm of the community, people who came from all over the world, hang out at the barbecue in the evening, listen to 8-bit music, drinking openSUSE beer and chatting about openSUSE and many other things. The Zentrifuge was a wonderful venue for that. It certainly was an inspiring event. When is the next conference?

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