2014-02-03

FOSDEM 2014

What a start with my trip to FOSDEM 2014: Having had an accommodation in Mechelen about 30 kilometers away from Brussels, I woke up much later than expected, hurried to the station and got quite a late train to Brussels. In Brussels I tried to get ticket for public transportation valid for several days ... but at the tourist information that kind of ticket was out of stock and the credit card terminal was broken - ok, I got a different ticket. Then I had to take the bus to ULB, where FOSDEM took place as usual. Of course, the bus was late :-) Finally, I made it to FOSDEM, but the configuration management developer room was totally overcrowded - I tried to get in, but finally I changed my schedule and skipped many of the talks I originally wanted to attend :-(
Trying to enter the configuration management devroom
So, here are the talks I've attended on Saturday:
  • Making the Linux Kernel better (without coding) was about using the crowd to improve hardware support for certain devices. Taking an USB camera, which was not suppported by the Linux kernel, as an example Wolfram Sang showed a way how to gather information in order to configure a generic USB device driver to recognize that particular model - finally, he could demonstrate how his camera worked with the generic USB driver.
  • Tom Tromey showed in Your Application versus GDB how Python scripts can be used to enhance GDB e.g. with pretty-printing or frame selection for debugging programs. A live debugging session of a small program was included.
  • The classification problem: challenges and solutions - External node classification, the CFEngine way by Marco Marongiu was about how to provide external node classification by an external script or parser for CFEngine like Hiera does this for Puppet.
  • In NixOS: declarative configuration Linux distribution Nix, NixOS and NixOps were introduced. Domen Kožar explained Nix, a standalone package manager using a DSL to provide functional programming behavior like lazy evaluation and treating the package target location as immutable. Different profiles, i.e. package versions use filesystem links, and garbage collection just checks for files not being referenced anymore. NixOS uses Nix as package manager and systemd for service control, and defines system configuration in a declarative way. Finally, NixOps is a way to provision NixOS machines in the cloud supporting different cloud providers.
  • Service orchestration in the cloud with Juju by Marco Ceppi: Juju is not a configuration management system, it's service orchestration, and it uses so-called Charms, which can be implemented in any programming language and where configuration management can be leveraged. Charms implement what is run when the orchestration triggers certain actions like depending one service on another or scaling a certain service.
For Sunday I've chosen quite an interesting selection of different talks, but the NoSQL, Go and Python developer rooms were so overcrowded, that I ended up with just a few talks I've attended:
Conclusion: Lot of interesting talks, lots of people - too many for me. In my opinion this does not scale anymore for an onsite conference. So, I will attend the next FOSDEMs via hooking into the livestreams.
Not served at FOSDEM and completely unrelated to the well-known Linux distribution

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