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Learn More About Free Software Next Week in Prague

October 11th, 2012 by

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The openSUSE Conference 2012 takes place next week from October 20th to 23rd in Prague, Czech Republic.

When you first step into the world of Free Software, it isn’t always easy: to paraphrase Richard Stallman, we are used to “trading freedom for convenience”. Understanding why you are using Free/Libre/OpenSource Software and seeing it at work can be inspiring – you might well find yourself on the path to be a Free/Libre Open Source Software contributor or advocate. Seeing how the principles of FLOSS are applied to things other than software can be equally inspiring and like Free Software, it is a revolution you can contribute to! You’ll find this and more inspiration in the Future Media track at this year’s conference.

This track aimed specifically at bringing a wider scope to the conference and with talks by people like Georg Greve, founder of the Free Software Foundation Europe, Lydia Pintscher from the WikiMedia Foundation and Bas van Abel from the FabLab movement, the sessions will you a proper knowledge base on the why and what of the ‘open’ movement.

We spoke with a number of the speakers to give you an idea what they will talk about.
May the Geeko be with you

Earlier interviews

On Tuesday we already published the interview with Linux Defender Armijn Hemel from the Open Invention Network. Click here for a blip.tv link. and here for YouTube and we also interviewed Agustin Benito, our keynote speaker, who will talk about the importance of Small and Medium businesses for Linux World Dominance. See here for Agustin on youtube or click here for a link to blip.tv.

Gamification and Engaging Design

After the Keynote on Saturday morning comes the first choice from the packed program. You might like to consider Thijs de Vries’ session on Gamification, using concepts from gaming in software design.

Thijs de Vries’ talk on Gamification provides inspiration for software developers who want to explore design concepts and create a richer user experience. Discover how software developers are using ideas from the world of gaming to create more intuitive user inferfaces, engaging websites and fun. As Free Software developer, getting your users engaged in your application is a good thing – the more people care, the more likely they are to be willing to contribute.

We did a video interview with Thijs de Vries, which you can watch below or click here for blip.tv if you prefer that.

If you can’t open it, you don’t own it!

Bas van Abel tells us to start demanding open products. He states that “if you’re not open-sourcing and making stuff radically transparent, the way it happened in open source, (…) in the physical world then stuff will not change.”

Bas has been involved in the ‘maker’ movement, setting up fablabs in the Netherlands and in short advancing the case of decentralized production. He believes that, by bringing products closer to the consumers, there can be more innovation and less waste. He explains fablabs and his vision in the interview below. Click here for blip.

Why Groupware matters

Likewise, Georg Greve’s ‘What you don’t understand will still control you’ takes a look at the importance of Free Software. Georg founded the Free Software Foundation Europe and has since moved on to ‘solving’ the problem of moving businesses to Free Software. According to him, the ‘office challenge’ consists of three pillars: the browser; the office suite; and groupware. While the browser and the office suite are well taken care of, free software groupware solutions are still very limited. And that blocks the other pillars. If you get a free office license with your groupware solution, why use LibreOffice? And if the collaboration tools integrated with our office and groupware require you to use a Microsoft browser, why also install Firefox?

But the current open source groupware solutions all have some fatal flaws. There are problems like bad scaling, no cross-platform clients, bad infrastructure, bad licencing, no community involvement and more. One solution exists which solves most of these: Kolab. Kolab however really needed a dedicated, commercial entity pushing development forward, providing enterprise-level support and marketing and assisting in deployments. So, Georg co-founded KolabSys to kickstart the progress of this groupware suite. Recently, version 3.0 was released with a boatload of improvements. In the interview below, Georg explains the importance of Kolab, the third pillar and why the solution they have developed is so good. Click here for blip.tv.

Ramon Roca: Building Networks

Ramon Roca is a well known Spanish activist fighting for a free network. In 2004 he co-founded guifi.net, a grassroots Broadband initiative in which citizens provide themselves the telecommunication infrastructure they use without the participation of traditional Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). Today, Guifi.net connects more that eighteen thousand homes through a more than thirty three thousand kilometers-long network through radio links and optic fiber channels in Spain.

guifi in action

Guifi in action – from guifi.net

To give some insight into his presentation, Ramon Roca spoke with Thanasis ‘Zoumpis’ Rousinopoulos. Ramon, born in rural Catalonia and in his late forties has been “a corporate IT professional for around 25 years, living in various places”. He’s now back in Catalonia where he has started a family.

He explained that Guifi.net started when “several people began cooperating by aggregating wireless networks”. The infrastructure is shared and supported by a social network of people who care about it and it has now grown into “a collective initiative led by the people with the aim of providing broadband as an alternative of traditional telcos. Just like in open source, you can participate in many ways” but here, we’re talking infrastructure, the main goal for the network. When asked what he considered big successes of Guifi, Ramon answered that for him “every single connection is a success itself, so now we can say that there are many thousands of successes, with different technologies (wireless or cable)”. He himself is of course also connected to the network, with “a fiber optic with 1 Gig symmetric at home. There is no magic behind it: when we manage the infrastructure, you’ll get the full benefit of the state of the art of it, and that is what fiber optic currently provides”. Finally, the end goal for Ramon is Internet for all. That means having a network commons alternative worldwide, regardless if you call it guifi.net or not”.

Be there!

This year oSC12 will take place at the Czech Technical University in Prague. The campus is located in the Dejvice district and is next to an underground station that gets you directly to the old town  – an opportunity you can’t miss!

As the interviews show, we have an incredible schedule lined up for you with speakers about a wide variety of topics, both going in-depth into core Linux technologies as well as folks talking about the why and how of Software (and hardware!) Freedom.

We expect to welcome about 500 Open Source developers, testers, usability experts, artists and professional attendees to the openSUSE conference, but we won’t be alone: this year, we work together with the local LinuxDays, SUSE Labs and the Gentoo community, making one big, smashing event!

The entire combined conference is expected to attract well over 1000 visitors. Admission to the openSUSE conference as well as LinuxDays, the SUSE Labs conference and the Gentoo miniconf is of course completely free.

The conference starts on October 20 2012 and ends on the 23rd. Be there!

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