Linus Torwalds on the Linux kernel community

2010-06-15 18:10
A few days ago, Linus send a very interesting mail on why he considers C the programming language that is most suitable for the Linux kernel. Despite the language specific arguments, the text contains quite a few insights on how the Linux kernel community works and communicates that might be interesting to non-kernel-hackers as well:

People working for free still doesn't mean that it's fine
to make the work take more effort - people still work for
other compensation, and not feeling excessively
frustrated about the tools (including language) and getting
productive work done is a big issue.

When attending Open Source conferences or contributing to free software projects I have made the exact same observation multiple times: Developers may not get money out of contributing to a free software project (though often they may do) there are other rewards that keep them working on any particular project: Learning from excellent peers usually is one reason. Being able to work on a topic you like at any time that suits you may be another one.

Developing free software is largely different than your usual professional work: People work voluntarily, putting as much effort into the code as is needed for them to be satisfied with the end-result. There may not be any deadlines fixed by contracts, still developers honour release cycles with the goal of providing a reliable product to their end users.

In the end it all boils down to being passionate about what you work on. To be involved in any open source project takes a huge amount of energy - but usually you get more in return than you are even able to invest. However if passion is a pre requisite to working on any free software this also means it is extremely hard to pay developers to work on any free software project: You just cannot buy passion or love for money.

But the thing is, "lines of code" isn't even remotely close
to being a measure of productivity, or even the gating
issue. The gating issue in any large project is pretty much
all about (a) getting the top people and (b) communication.

Can only quote that - totally agree with the analysis. This applies to any software project - free or proprietary. So if you own a software development business: What is your strategy for getting the top people and facilitating communication in your company? What is your measure of productivity?

My highly subjective Berlin Buzzwords recap

2010-06-13 18:32
Last November I innocently asked Grant what it would take to make him to give a talk in Berlin. The only requirement he told me was that I'd have to pay for his flight. About eight months later we had Berlin Buzzwords - a conference all around the topics scalability, data storage and search. With Simon Willnauer, Uwe Schindler, Michael Busch, Robert Muir, Grant Ingersoll, Andrzej Bialecki and many others we had quite a few Lucene people in town.

From the NoSQL community, Peter Neubauer, Rusty Klophaus, Jan Lehnardt, Mathias Meyer, Eric Evans and many others made sure people got their fair share of NoSQL knowledge. With Aaron Kimball, Jay Booth, Doug Judd and Steve Loughran we had several Hadoop and related people at the conference.

The conference also featured two talks on Apache Mahout: An overview from Frank Scholten as well as a more in-depth talk by Sean Owen. It's great to see the project grow - not only in terms of development community but also in terms of requests from professional Mahout users.

In addition we had a keynote by Pieter Hintjens that concentrated on messaging in general and 0MQ in particular - a scalability topic otherwise highly underrepresented at Berlin Buzzwords.

We got well over 300 attendees that filled Berlin Kosmos - a former cinema. Attendees were a good mixture of Apache and non-Apache people, developers and users. People used the breaks and bar tours after the event to get in touch, exchange ideas. It's always good to see developers discuss design issues and architectural challenges.

Monday evening was reserved for local people taking out the speakers and interested attendees for Bar Tours to Friedrichshain. Those from Berlin took Berlin Buzzwords people to their favourite restaurants and bars - or to what they considered to be "typical Berlin". Some spent evenings later that week drinking beer or Berliner Weisse.

The tour for keynote speakers Grant Ingersoll, Pieter Hintjens and friends was organised by Julia and myself. We went over to Kreuzberg - some went to famous Burgermeister for Burgers, the other half went to a nearby Indian restaurant. After that we spent the evening in Club der Visionäre - a club next to the water. Me personally I left at about midnight - several people of the Lucene community moved to the well known Fette Ecke later on.

When asking the audience about repeating the conference next year, all hands went up immediately. Beside lots of praise for the organisation, from the feedback form we put up we got some good ideas on how to improve the conference next year. I'd love to have you guys back here in 2011 - and I'd love to get even more attendees in. Was great fun having you here. Thanks for 5 great days:

Five instead of two days, because:

  • Keynote speakers got a special treatment - that is a personal city guide for the weekend before Buzzwords.
  • We had the official conference start on Sunday with a Barcamp.
  • We had another Apache dinner on Wednesday with those Apache people that live in Berlin. In addition the Aaron and Sarah joined us as they were still in town for the Apache Hadoop trainings. Also Greg Stein had pizza and beer with us - he was in town for the svn conference at the end of the week.

Thanks to all who helped turn this conference into a success: Julia Gemählich for conference management, Ulf and Wetter for WiFi setup, Nils for travel management, Simon and Jan for support ranking talks and reaching out to your communities, all speakers for fantastic talks, those taking pictures of the conference and sharing them on Flickr for showing those who stayed at home how great the conference was, peoplezapping for the videos that will soon be available online, all sponsors for supporting the conference, all attendees for their participation. I'd love to have all of you (and many more) back in Berlin next year. An informal call for presentations has been set up already - submit now and be the one to set the trend instead of just following the Buzzwords!

For those who do not want to wait for another year: We will have another Apache Hadoop Get Together in September 2010 - watch this space for more information. If you'd like to give a talk their and present your Hadoop/ Solr/ Lucene etc. system - please get in touch with me.

Apache Dinner June 2010

2010-06-09 23:54
After Berlin Buzzwords was over yesterday - and as there is an svn conference in the city that starts tomorrow, we thought we could easily put together a smallish Apache Dinner for tonight. So Torsten mailed a few people, booked some space at Heinz Minki in Kreuzberg. We announced it at the end of the conference and invited people to join us.

So after a beautiful day out I spent the evening with a bunch of Apache related guys and girls having drinks and great pizza: We had several svn committers, Greg Stein met us there - he arrived today for the svn conference. Of couse the usual suspects were there as well: Simon Willnauer and his wife, Torsten Curdt, Erik Abele, Thomas Wöhlke, Valerie Hajdik. In addition we had guests from the Apache Lucene and Apache Hadoop communities: Sarah Sproehnle and Aaron Kimball as well as Uwe Schindler joined us.

Thanks to Torsten for putting the meetup together. See you next time in July. If you are interested in joining our meetups: Subscribe to our mailing list.

Apache Dinner - May 2010

2010-05-27 22:50
This evening a bunch of Apache committers and friends gathered in Berlin Kreuzberg at "Goodmorning Vietnam" for tasty food, nice drinks - or put another way, for a very nice evening. Simon had booked the table - we were expecting no more than eight people. However, as with any user group these meetup tends to grow. Shortly after the appointed time we had to move to another table to fit everyone around. See below for a quick shot taken while eating (Thanks to Eric for taking the picture):

There were people from Lucene, from SVN, Cocoon, CouchDB, HttpComponents and various other projects. Even one potential future Mahout committer :) Counting attendees quickly I guess we were about fifteen people.

Looking forward to the next meetup that will be scheduled to take place shortely after Buzzwords. Please talk to Torsten Curdt if you want to get notified or simply subscribe to our mailing list.

Going to Berlin Buzzwords

2010-05-21 08:46
Meet me in two weeks at Berlin Buzzwords. As you may have noticed, together with Simon Willnauer, Jan Lehnardt and newthinking communications I am organising Berlin Buzzwords - a conference on scalable search, data analysis and storage.

I'm going to Berlin Buzzwords - the conference on searching, processing and storing data.

There are a few regular tickets left, so don't wait too long to register. If you want to bring your friends, check out our group tickets with up to 50% discount. If you are a student bring your student ID and register for 100,- Euro.

Apache Dinner - April 2010

2010-04-19 21:43
Today, the April Apache Dinner took place in Berlin. We met at Sadhu - an Indian restaurant in Berlin X-Berg. We were six people: Lars Trieloff from Day Software, Simon Willnauer and Vera from Lucene, Torsten Curdt - currently Freelancer and Daniel Naber from Lucene as well.

With great food, nice discussions and a first glimpse on the submissions for Berlin Buzzwords it quickly got later and later :)

If you are Apache Committer/Member yourself or are simply interested in learning more about this crazy bunch of software developers meeting each month in a different restaurant, please contact Torsten for more information on the meetup - and to be included on the next meetup schedule. As we are by far more than ten people interested in delicious food and meeting other "indians in Berlin", I created a Dinner mailing list - please join, if you plan to take part in the dinner in the near future.

Apache Dinner Berlin - next Monday

2010-04-12 08:00
Next Monday at 7p.m. the April Apache Dinner Berlin is scheduled to take place. Thanks to Torsten Curdt for organising the dinner - as in: Contacting people, finding a suitable data, booking the location etc.

Looking forward to another nice evening at an awesome restaurant with tasty indian food. If you'd like to join us, please contact Torsten to be included in the next announcement mail. The dinner is not restricted to Apache people from Berlin: Anyone who is fine joining a group of geeks and free software hackers for dinner is invited to join us. If you are Apache developer planning to visit Berlin in the coming months, please contact Torsten so we can try to schedule the respective dinner to match your calendar.

GSoC - one day to go for your application

2010-04-08 14:37
If you are a student interested in participating in Google Summer of Code: Registration closes tomorrow (as in "April 9, 19:00 UTC"). You hopefully published and discussed your proposal at your favourite project already so you have a clear plan of where to go and which milestones to achieve in summer.

If you are interested in Apache Mahout: Yes, as last years, we are again looking for students willing to work on awesome student projects this summer. Several core Mahout developers have signed up as mentors for GSoC. With Robin one of our former GSoC students now has turned into a mentor: It's always amazing to watch students stick with the project and continue contributing valuable input.

So in case you would love to learn more on machine learning, train your software development skills and work with great people on your favourite problem, do not forget to submit your project proposal until tomorrow.

Third Apache Dinner Berlin

2010-03-11 22:04
Today the third Dinner for Apache committers and friends took place in Berlin. We met in Schöneberg at Marcello Berlin for pizza, pasta, wine, beer ... and lots of discussions.

It always surprises me to see how many Apache related people there are in Berlin. This time we had Peter from Tomcat, Daniel and Simon with Vera from Lucene, Eric from http components, four guys from the svn project (Welcome again at the ASF), Oswald and myself and Thilo.

We scheduled the meetup comparably early - at about 6:30p.m. - giving the parents among us the chance to attend with their children: Looks like some projects recruit their new project members pretty early ;)

Next time we will meet some time before or after Apache Retreat in April. Then again organised (as in "set a date", "reserve a table at your favourite restaurant", "call your friends") by another Apache committer in Berlin. If you would like to join us, or are a committer yourself interested in finding out about other people in town with the same affiliation, do not hesitate to contact me: I'll make sure you are included in the next vote on the dinner date.

PS: Why on earth do user meetups in Berlin always have the tendancy of growing and growing and growing? ;)

Google Summer of Code starting

2010-03-10 19:10
As published on the Google Open Source blog the application period for mentoring organizations for GSoC starts now. The ASF is already in the process of applying. If you are a student, looking for an interesting project to work on during the coming summer - you might consider participating in GSoC. It does give you are great opportunity to get in touch with successful free software projects, learn how to work in global teams, improve your communication skills and last but not least show and publish your fantastic coding skills.

If you want to learn more on Why you should contribute to open source, the article by Shalin Shekhar Mangar is a great summary of some of the reasons why people work on open source projects.