UKUUG: KDE Development

David’s talk KDE Development dealt with new features in KDE 3.2.

He introduced the audience to application scripting via DCOP which allows for inter-process ommunication between KDE applications. KDcop is a useful GUI to inspect running applications and processes. DCOP has bindings to many languages (also PHP?) and usually works on the local machine only, but can be enabled ot work over the network, but this feature is disabled by default

KTrader handles “service types” and associates applications and mimetypes, taking into account the user profile. I thought to myself that we should think of a trader within CONESYS that deals with DDO packages and associates those packages with a certain repository.

KParts is there to load application components in the manner of

KParts::ComponentFactory::createPartInstanceFromQuery[…]

, which is a new approach compared to older KDE versions, much shorter.

Something you can easily try out yourself is KDialog which displays a KDE dialog similar to a JavaScript alert(). A sample:

>kdialog –yesno “Run this script?” || exit 1

With KDialog, e.g. shell scripts can ask for user input.

KOffice is currently in the phase of transition to a XML based native format as defined by the OASIS office committee. This process (which is in the beginning) will provide simple interoperability between OpenOffice and KOffice. I noticed that KOffice has a flow chart application called Kivio which I will try out at home 🙂

Some notes on Konqueror: it will allow for sidebar modules a la mozilla and inline spell-checking. Also, it will be possible to integrate applications like umbrello to display UML diagrams.

The next KDE meeting will be the first one open to the public. Up to now, the meetings were only meant for KDE developers. From my point of view, this is a very important and the right step ahead to also include the users at meetings when developing an FOSS Desktop system. The often perceived dichotomy between developers and users must be bridged, as has also been discussed at this years OSCOM conference concerning Content Management Systems.

UKUUG: Not Fired for Buying Linux? Quirks of Open Source Adopters' worldviews

My notes and some comments on Andrew Nicolsons presentation Not Fired for Buying Linux? Quirks of Open Source Adopters’ worldviews

Throughout his session, Andrew did not work with slides displayed to the audience. His talk was mainly a caleidoscope of good ideas and criticism.

He started with some questions addressing the audience, the funniest one: “Who wears a dress at his working place?”

Andrew continued analysing who is actually looking at the adoption of FOSS. It’s mainly the media, he said, that presents case studies, articles, interviews, etc.; but, you usually don’t hear about people who did not go for it.

Moving on to discuss the term “computer users”, he doubted the usefulness of this term. He brought up an anology: “Although managers talk a lot, we don’t call them talkers; allthough politicians shake a lot of hands, we don’t call them shakers – but computer users are called computer users because they use the computer.”

Decisions on migrating to Linux, Andrew said, sustaine the myth of rational decision making, which is a masculin approach to decision making. In general, Andrew is a constructivist thinker when he says that a decision is made first, afterwards we piece the evidence together to make our decision defencable.

Software is created socially, in discourses, speech, text and works with conecpts, networks of concepts, theories.

His MBA research is based on some migration examples:
– the city of nottingham that moved to a SuSe email system
– a school that moved to OpenOffice
– Unilever, that decided upon a 5 year plan migrating to linux
– the west yorkshire police

The result is that he detected classical structures of fairy tales and naratives in those migration stories: There’s 1. a problem/crisis, 2. a hero, 3. a solution (linux, the “magic tool”). Andrew explained that the story makes the teller look good and is deeply deep rooted in a traditional conceptional framework/structure. It all comes down to the phrase “we lived happily ever after”.

Having a closer look at the actors in the migration narratives, he enjoyed interviews with employees of the West Yorkshire Police, stating “TV cliches” like “tax payers money”, “I am a responsible police man”.

One more interesting point when looking at the migration stories is that on the one hand, FOSS is presented as something new and different, on the other hand, its similarity is stressed (e.g. between MS Word and OpenOffice).

Andrew adviced the audience to consider that it might not be a good argument that Linux helps companies in saving money, because the power of a manager is bound to the budget of his department. The more money he (can) spends, the more power he has.

At the end of Andrews superb talk, I asked myself, what’s the essence of his statements? Is there nothing new under the sun, even with FOSS, or does it essentially make a difference?

UKUUG: Linux@IBM

Richard J Moore from the IBM Linux Technology Centre, talked about Linux@IBM:

Richard started off with a survey that asked “Based on what you have seen or heard so far with Linux, how would you rate Linux on the following aspects?”. The results (most important on top):

1. Reliability
2. Acquisition Costs
3. Performance
4. Value of Open Source
5. Security

He labeled Linux Kernel 2.6 “a major step in the maturity of Linux”.

Summarizing IBM’s strategy, these are the important points:
– enabling linux hardware, software and services
– partnering with established linux vendors
– participating in the Linux FOSS developers community
– promoting adoption of open standards

Conerning the workload consolidation, IBM sees the following value propositions concerning Linux:
– reduce cost
– use resources more efficiently
– improve performance
– speed deployment
– centralized administration
– daramatically improve TCO

Yes, Linux is also being used inside of IBM to “eliminate OS/2 and Windows servers” (!). Linux runs on about 1100+ xSeries servers and zSeries in the IBM intranet. They do email filtering, web server, etc.

The Linux Technology Center department, where Richard works as RAS architect, focuses on the following areas:
– kernel scalability
– posix threading
– pci hot plug
– etc.
Their work is not architecture-specific. The department employs about 250+ engineers. More information can be found on the LTC Website.

Richard stressed at the end of his talks: “IBM does the upmost to be a good community player”. The succeeding discussion with the panel largely covered patent issues. Giving up IBM software patents would involve a “painfully expensive process”, Richard said. Jon “Maddog” Hall asked him, why IBM does not simple issue a statement saying that they will not use their patents against any FOSS project? Of course, Richard answered that this is nothing he could decide and added that “IBM is a big company that takes long to change its culture”.

Another question from the audience addressed the point why IBM does not offer Linux support for PCs or notebooks? Jon helped Richard answering the question, saying that the IBM Q&A team would have lots of work to make sure that Linux runs on their hardware – even if they choose only some PCs or notebooks. Nevertheless, Jon predicted that “the more linux goes to the dekstop, the more it will be supported, it’s simply a business decision”. Richard followed Jon saying that more significant investment is needed to make Linux widely adoptable for the Desktop, but currently it is still too hard to get a proper return on investment.

UKUUG: Extreme Linux Programming – A Continuum

Some notes on Jon “Maddog” Hall’s session Extreme Linux Programming – A Continuum.

It was new to me when Jon told us that the Titanic movie used 160 alpha processors with Linux to render the movie. The final rendering took about a year. The producers saved 500 000$ compared to proprietary solutions, a circumstance that Jon commented with: “So the world’s most xpensive movie was half a million dollar cheaper”.

Jon examplified how Linux is used for super computing when finding quarks (physics), doing adaptive control of earthquakes, simulating meteorits crashing New York, mammograms (breast cancer) analysis.

In these cases, Jon said, Linux helps with its cost efficiency, because often people say: “We know how to solve the problem, but we cannot afford to solve it.”, until they see the cost benefits of using Linux for super computing.

Jon drew the following future and past chronologic line, showing “Where does Linux belong?”:

– Beowulfs 1994/1995
– Small-Mid Range Servers 1998
– Embedded Systems 2000
– Commodity based NUMA machines 2003
– Desktop 2003/2004

And the nice thing is, he added, that all of it is based on one set of APIs.

Linux is just perfect for super computing, he said, because “the ntworking is built in” and “parallelism screems at you”. With Linux, you have parallelism even in single-cpu machines where it cuts down on I/O wait time and keeps memory and cache “warmer”.

The investment protection that Linux offers to super computing implementation, are based on the:
– standard operating system
– standard architectures
– standard programming techniques
inherent to Linux.

Oh, and I learned a new acronym: RAS = Reliability/Availability/Scalability.

UKUUG: I'm there

Just arrived at UKUUG Linux 2003 conference in Edinburgh. I intend to blog some of the sessions I will attend. The first one will be Jon’s talk. So keep coming back to my blog because I will add some reports from time to time, until the conference closes on Sunday.

Upon registration, I of course received the famous conference bag with many sponsor ads. To my suprise, I also found a printed copy of a Samba 3.0 How-To. Good idea, thanks!

Fortunately, I had some time to do some sight-seeing in Edinburgh yesterday, which is – of course – a great city, as I have now been able to experience on my own.

As far as I have seen, the UKUUG conference Web site does not provide trackback links for each session – maybe next time for the winter conference? Then bloggers could reference single sessions. Apropos conferences and trackbacks: O’Reilly’s OSCON Web site provided trackback links, so maybe it will become a common place soon for any conference Web site – which would really make sense.