FOSDEM 2013

Last week I attended a conference on open source software called FOSDEM in Brussels, the two day event has lots of tracks, based on either specific projects or topics such as Java or securiy.

I attended the following talks
On Saturday
XMPP 101
The Open Observatory of Network Interference
Practical Security for developers, using OWASP ZAP
The future of X.org on non-Linux systems
Declarative style GUI programming
How to build an Identity Management System on Linux

On Sunday
The Lua Scripting Language in the NetBSD Kernel
Supporting the new C and C++ standards in FreeBSD
Improvements in the OpenBSD IPsec stack

My favourite talk of the event was the OWASP talk on Saturday by Simon Bennetts who did a great job of clearly explaining what ZAP can do & how it is of use for testing the security of your web application.
The XMPP 101 talk gave an overview of what the protocol can do, the OONI talk had a very late start & laptop issues, didn’t get much from the talk but it does seem like an interesting project from the info on the website. Matthieu Herrb  talked about the progress of running X.org on UNIX, conclusion “Tough times for non-linux systems”. Marc Balmer gave two talks on using Lua, first in GUI programming & the second on the lua(4) subsystem in the NetBSD kernel, allowing users to explore the system easily & doing rapid prototype without the initial steep learning curve of learning C & kernel internal, making the system internals easily accessible. The last talk on the Security track was on FreeIPA, luckily the slides were quiet detailed as it was impossible to hear the speaker because the mic was hanging too low off  his shirt collar.

The BSD track on Sunday was where I spent most of the day. David Chisnall spoke about the C & C++ standards & the mistakes made by the standards groups which we have to live with. I spent the lunch break talking with David about FreeBSD, how I struggle with doing buildworld on my X61s, what can be done to speed up buildworld, why the buildworld process takes so long & the tools Juniper has developed which allow you to track the dependency path for building each component in FreeBSD base.
Mike Belopuhov spoke about the IPsec stack & NAT64 support in OpenBSD, I had an opportunity to ask Mike about dead peer detection, in my previous site to site VPN deployment I had issues where if the connection dropped at either site, the tunnel with not be re-established, needing manual intervention, It was good to hear that this was a problem with the isakmpd & not necessarily a configuration issue.

There were a lots of projects & businesses with stands, Oreilly had a stand selling books, Google were in the recruitment section, Oracle with three big banners for java, mysql & something else, the lady on the stand was very friendly, telling me about how Oracle participates in open source software such as Java, the penny then dropped about the update 13 release.
It was good to see CAcert had a stand and were looking very busy with assurances. I visited the mozilla stand & had the opportunity to try out the firefoxOS on a nexus s?
I’m strongly considering moving to it as I’d rather go with firefoxOS than android, the lock down of iOS is very painful for sharing data between my own devices & makes it frustrating for getting content from several devices to a single place.
I visited the google stand to talk to the recruiters there, I was curious to learn about their recruitment process, since 2007 I have been approached by Google on 3 different occasion, the most recent being back in July last year. I always assumed they had drives every so many years & I’d just been lucky to have been listed on three separate occasions, it turns out actually that once you’re on their radar, they will make contact every once in a while to see if your situation has changed & if have developed sufficiently since last time to be able to pass the interview tests.
I spoke with others regarding this, with those now employed by them & those who have also been approached in the past, discussing why systems folks are sought after & what options you have should you wish to no longer be contacted (supposedly under Californian law, if a person requests a company to never be contacted again, the company has to comply?).

Over the weekend I spotted a few OpenBSD tops (more hoodies than t-shirts) & met my first MirBSD user/developer, Benny Siegert who was the organiser of the BSD track at FOSDEM.
I also had the opportunity to meet up with/bump into folks from communities such as MetaBUG, OSHUG, LOSUG, Brighton 2600, London *BSD, it was good to catch up.

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