You are here

Community

MeshCon 2014 Fashion and Tec Week Berlin

Let's upgrade the garment and textile industry to the 21st century at MeshCon 2014 Fashion and Tec Week in Berlin. The event will take place from 10-15 October at the TU Berlin and the home of the Wikipedia community in Berlin, the Wikimedia e.V.

Today our clothes are produced in unethical ways harming people and the environment. Our community is developing human technologies, and fair and environment friendly concepts for the production of garments and textiles. How can we make it work now with the industry and consumers together? How to reap the benefits of participatory production in the textile industry?

We bring together industry experts, fashion designers, pattern creators, knitters, textile manipulators, Open Source Fashiontec developers and DIY hardware makers. MeshCon Berlin  The event offers a place to exchange new ideas in personalized fashion and technologies in the garment production.

Participants from across the world are joining the five day event at locations around Berlin city. The first and second day we will start with a conference at the University of Technology TU Berlin. In the following days you can learn how to create your own fashion and wearables at workshops at the Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. office. Please join us!

More at meshcon.net

Open Fashion Wiki with Tons of Resources

Electronic Textile Institute: Designer Maker Community in Berlin

I read about the people from the Electronic Textile Institute in Berlin already a while ago. I was excited to have the chance to meet Victoria Pawlik in the space in Berlin Wedding on Saturday together with Andre Rebentisch from the Berlin Startup community.

Victoria Pawlik, Berlin Electronic Textile Institute
Victoria Pawlik at Electronic Textile Institute (etib.org)

The group working at the space is still small, but the projects they are doing are already very exciting. Victoria studied fashion design and uses the places as a creative space to develop ideas and produce cloth designs, which she sells at community markets and online shops like VLP-Designs at Dawanda and RedPinkGreen at Etsy.


Electronic Textile Institute Berlin with Mario Behling and Victoria Pawlik
Electronic Textile Institute Berlin

Other people at the space are coming from the IT and hackers community. Fabienne is known for her involvement into Open Source and Open Hardware. She likes to hack into knitting machines and creates incredible patterns, that are unique in every aspect. One of the designs at the shop is particularly interesting as none of the pattern parts repeat itself.

By Open-Sourcing older Brother knitting machines and connecting a PC to a machine Fabienne was able to enhance the functioning and extend the functionalities beyond the original one.

Brother CK-35, Knitting Machine with Open Source
Brother CK-35, Open Sourced Knitting Machine

Fabienne Serriere, Knitting Pattern, Electronic Textile Institute Berlin
Knitting Pattern of Fabienne Serriere, Electronic Textile Institute Berlin

Electronic Textile Institute Berlin wit Victoria Pawlik and Andre Rebentisch
Electronic Textile Institute Berlin with Victoria Pawlik and Andre Rebentisch

Links:

Wikis in Open Source Projects

Wikis are great to collect information and they work well, the more active users they actually have. With the growth of Wikipedia the number of people who understand how collaboration works in a Wiki increased dramatically (even though in fact many users of the Wikipedia still do not seem to know, that they can actually edit pages).

For smaller numbers of contributing users I found, that it is sometimes difficult to keep information up to date or delete spam, that appears even though Antispam modules and Captcha tools are set up.

For example in the English LXDE wiki, we have quite some hits on the wiki, but if we look closer, many pages have outdated information about releases and roadmaps. As the wiki is available in many languages, it gets even worse in other languages with less community members engaging. A reason why the LXDE wiki might not be so active is probably because the project is more a project of developers collaborating with other developers. Developers are already busy coding. My observation is, that they simply do not have time to keep Wikis up to date.

Another example is the lubuntu wiki. Over time different people contribute to the wiki. The wiki was originally modeled after wiki pages of other Ubuntu derivatives like Xubuntu.  We had the advantage to use a basic structure, that might have taken others years to achieve. A very important point was also that there is an established model to deal with different opinions in a wiki. The lubuntu wiki is set up within the Ubuntu wiki. When we started there were already a lot of people who we could cooperate with and there was a functioning administration and hosting model, that we did not have to take care of. The wiki developed into a good resource and brought in people who also took on the special help pages for lubuntu.

Freifunk Wiki

Finally the freifunk wiki of the free wireless community. The wiki is in German, but during recent years also other languages were included as people from across the world started to participate in freifunk. There have been steady contributions to the content from different kinds of people. While some local communities themselves have often more content, the wiki remains to be an important resource and basis especially for new communities. The wiki is managed and maintained completely by the community. As we have many capable developers and IT experts in this project, it should be easy to maintain the wiki system and perform upgrades. The fact is though, that the activity level of people, including my own engagement, ranges vastly. This makes it very difficult to administer a wiki. And for newbies it is difficult to support a group as well. The most difficult part is to get into the group of admins. You need to get access and often root access to infrastructure. It is difficult to establish a level of trust with newcomers. Longterm members start families, might not show up at offline meetings and might not always be available. In a community there is usually also a previous experience with newcomers that disappear after some time or people who could be perceived as trolls. So, the result is often an attitude of a wait and see approach. In return newcomers, who want to push ahead with new cool stuff, get frustrated with this attitude. I have not seen a perfect approach to resolve this issue, but I find that real world meet ups that bring contributors together can help to solve this. In Germany many local communities have local meet ups. There are also bigger community events like the Wireless Community Weekend and even International get togethers like the Battle of the Mesh.

So, whatever you do, try to meet some people face to face and you will see how it also becomes more fun to work in the project.

Kategorien: 

What works well for community projects – wikis, blogs, forums, cms, IRC

I guess in any project – open software, hardware, content –  there are established working models and processes, that develop over time and help everyone involved to get things done.  Those processes need to be explained and communicated to newbies taking time and adding overhead to volunteer projects. Tasks not everyone is interested in as experience also shows that not all newbies stick with projects. So, what to do? 

A way to reduce overhead explaining newbies how to involve is to stick to established channels, standard collaboration tools and work processes. Forums, wikis, content management systems, IRC channels, mailing lists are all great tools, but when does a wiki make sense for a project? When do forums, IRC and mailing lists all make sense?

Generally saying my experience is that projects that are more focused on technology and with lots of developers tend to do good with mailing lists, IRC and sometimes forums. Wikis and website documentation works much better, if you have people who can actually invest time in creating and updating content. Documentation is a weak point of many software projects as it is not always fun and takes time. For most developers it is much cooler to develop a new feature, than to write a document about it, but if you have people who would like to support other areas, but cannot code, then go for it. Maybe even start a documentation team.

Project blogs work well if the project team is not too big, as people seem to be somehow feel attached to a project to blog. It works well for projects with real “core people” and are small or midsized. On the other hand if the project is very big, the question arises who has the right to write on the blog? Or, who will actually write something, if the community is diverse and dispersed?

Of course there could be projects where things are different, but the above is how it works in my experience.

Kategorien: 

Cool Site for Volunteering workaway.info

More and more people like the idea of collaborating in new ways, sharing their time and resources and work differently from the established way of doing things. Yesterday, I discovered workaway.info with the help of a guest in our hotel. It is a website that offers volunteers and organizations, NGOs, companies, families and everyone who would like to get a helping hand in exchange for place to sleep to get in touch. Some pretty tempting places and volunteer jobs, that are on offer here. I am thinking to do some volunteering myself again, but for now I have to take care of the company.

Workaway.info 2012

Interview about lubuntu with Full Circle Podcast

The full circle magazine did an interview with me to learn more about the lubuntu project. Listen to the first part here.

Full Circle Podcast #8: More Opinion Than You Can Handle 

In this episode, Dave and Ed argue about evolution… of  Ubuntu One and Lubuntu.

Opinion: Why we need Lubuntu

Interview: Part I of the Lubuntu Project

Thanks to Dave and Ed for making people aware about lubuntu!

Creative Commons license of the podcast: (cc) BY-SA 3.0 Unported

How to make lubuntu better

PCMan, the founder of LXDE, told me a few ideas about "how to make lubuntu better":

One thing I think every developer can do to make Lubuntu better is quite simple. Lubuntu developers can help check if dialogs in LXDE programs can conform to Gnome HIG. Currently, most dialogs in PCManFM/libfm are designed with Gnome HIG in mind, but there are still some missing bits. Since glade is used to create those dialogs, it's not difficult to fix them. If a dialog is too big for devices with small screen like Netbooks, "this is a bug" and should be reported in the trackers. Help is also needed to make them fit small screens. Most of time I develop them with small screen in mind so this might not a problem, but we need to make sure. Another thing you can do with the source code is making sure every GtkDialog is created with gtk_dialog_set_alternative_button_order() called. This is required to make all apps work in consistent ways. To improve user experience, those are things need to be ensure.

Links:

* Lightweight X Desktop http://lxde.org

* PCManFM/libfm http://pcmanfm.sourceforge.net

Radio Tux: Lumiera Radio Interview during FROSCON 2009

Radio Tux has published my interview with the core developers and contributors to the Lumiera project now. I conducted the interview at FROSCON 2009 a couple of weeks ago. Lumiera is a Free and Open Source video editing application project for GNU/Linux developed originally by the CinelerraCV community. It was born as a rewrite of the Cinelerra codebase called Cinelerra3 but it is now an independent project with its own name.

Lumiera Collage
Poster of ideas in the Lumiera logo contest

The lumiera project is insofar an amazing project, as it involves a lot of artists and videomakers. Also there seem to be quite a few women involved. So we do see the free and open source community evolving and including different people with various backgrounds. What a great news! Lumiera shows that people do not want to be limited by proprietary video editing software. I am looking myself for a good open source video suite for years and I believe Lumiera can be a good alternative in the future. Actually there is not a version to test yet. There have been code aditions to other projects.

Why I do think Lumiera will be successful, is because the project lead focuses on building a broad community of contributors and they do not focus on short-term success, but rather long-term goals. When they had to decide what logo they should use for lumiera, they put up a forum, a wiki page and a voting system and let the community decide as a whole. And I like what came out. Cool way to do it.

Lumiera Logo
Lumiera Logo after community contest

The interview is pretty interesting. It is a bit more than half an hour. I was also very happy to hear that Lumiera will focus on speed and usability for people with less powerful and expensive hardware. These are exactly the goals of LXDE and Freifunk, which I am happy to support as well. Lumiera folks just incorporate the idea of empowering people. I am looking forward to what comes out of this exciting project.

Die Nicht-Lineare Videoschnittsoftware Lumiera ist gewissermaßen ein Fork von Cinerella. Warum es zu diesem Fork kam, wie der Name und das Logo für das Projekt entstand und warum die Community, die sich mittels Wiki und Mailinglisten organisiert, jetzt schon eine große ist, obwohl die Software noch nicht veröffentlich ist versucht unser Moderator Mario Behling im Gespräch mit Developern und anderen am Projekt beteiligten Leuten zu klären. (http://blog.radiotux.de/2009/09/02/interview-ueber-lumiera/)

Special thanks to Sirko and Thomas “der genial vom Thema abschweifende” Steinbrecher for giving me the opportunity to conduct the interview and for always keeping us up to date about the FOSS community over the years with radio tux!

Links

* Lumiera project http://lumiera.org
* Lumiera wiki http://pipapo.org/pipawiki/Lumiera
* On Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinelerra#Lumiera_rewrite
* Radio Tux http://blog.radiotux.de

lubuntu first alpha releases

lynxis published the first lubuntu test iso based on the seeds by David Sugar and additional patches. The first release was 381 MB and a second one only 292 MB. Following test images are also around this size. After crashing the c-base server several times with the lubuntu images, the LXDE team kindly offers the download from its website: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

lubuntu
lubuntu logo suggestion by gusion

The lubuntu project was started in February after I met with Mark Shuttleworth in Berlin. We talked about how to cooperate between LXDE and Ubuntu. Mark agreed that a light Ubuntu distro would definitely be worthwile to proceed. I started the lubuntu project with the goal to create an Ubuntu derivative that is fast and lightweight just as the goals of the LXDE project.

LXDE, "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment", is an extremely fast, performing and energy saving desktop environment. It is maintained by an international community of developers and comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications like netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed with distributions like Ubuntu or Debian. It provides a fast desktop experience connecting easily with applications in the cloud. LXDE supports a wealth of programs, that can be installed with Linux systems locally. The source code of LXDE is licensed partly under the terms of the General Public License and partly under the LGPL.

The lubuntu team already had IRC meetings, face to face gatherings in Singapore, Berlin and other cities. And, I am excited to see the team getting together and releasing first results now. lynxis who is most of the time in the c-base just over the street from my appartment joined the team a few months ago. I am looking forward to more people joining up with us.

There are many ways you can support the project. Firstly download and test the current test releases. If you are a developer you can submit patches. If you are a tester, please leave info about bugs in the bug tracker. Secondly you can join us and create desktop backgrounds and logos for lubuntu. We have not decided yet, what the final logo will look like.Check out the lubuntu Artwork Forum and leave your ideas there. You can also help with translations, if you speak another language and translate the desktop of LXDE. Or you can help to improve or write Wikipedia articles about lubuntu and LXDE.

lubuntu logo idea by genelyk
lubuntu logo idea by genelyk

lubuntu design idea
lubuntu Design Idea by leo

Download lubuntu test iso: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

Links

* lubuntu on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubuntu
* Join up with the LXDE community http://join.lxde.org
* lubuntu Artwork Forum http://forum.lxde.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=437
* Bug reports: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Seeds and Code of Lubuntu: https://code.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Launchpad Project: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* How to make a LiveCD: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCDCustomizationFromScratch

Freies WLAN für Berlin

Freies WLAN in Berlin wird kommen hieß es teilweise in der Presse. In der Tat gibt es freies WLAN in Berlin in Form von Freifunk schon seit Jahren. Wünschenswert wäre, wenn auch der Berliner Senat mit der Freifunk-Community - Bürgern, Unternehmen, Kirchen und sozialen Einrichtungen - zusammen arbeiten würde und gemeinsam ein nachhaltiges Modell erarbeiten würde, um das Netz auszubauen und hierüber in vielen Stadtgebieten eine Grundversorgung mit Internet bereit stellen würde. Dies würde durch dezentrale Freifunknetze und ein verteiltes Betreibermodell, dass nicht gewinnorientiert ist, sogar nur sehr geringe Kosten verursachen. Die Bereitstellung einer Basisnetzanbindung würde neue Geschäftsmodelle befördern und Arbeitsplätze schaffen. Ein derartiges Modell wird mit Freifunk in Berlin seit Jahren ohne Unterstützung der öffentlichen Hand bereits realisiert und nachhaltig betrieben. Nun hat der Berliner Senat in der aktuellen Debatte die Chance, die seit langem in der Freifunk-Community gewünschte Zusammenarbeit zu beginnen zum Beispiel über den Förderverein für freie Netze, Selbständige und Firmen im Freifunkumfeld.

Neben zahlreichen Anfragen über eine Kooperation auf Bezirksebene in den letzten Jahren hatte die Freifunk-Community dieses Jahr am 26. Mai zu dem Thema beim Wirtschaftssenator eine Anfrage gestellt. Zwei Freifunker waren zudem bereits im letzten Jahr zu einem Informationsgespräch in die Wirtschaftsabteilung eingeladen, wo der Senat sich zu Freifunk informierte. Auf Nachfragen zu geplanten WLAN-Netzen in Berlin gab es am 15. Juni eine Antwort. Dort heisst es, dass trotz anderer Presseberichte, der Senat kein Stadtnetz plane, sondern lediglich Investitionsbedingungen klärt.

Wirtschaftssenator Harald Wolf: zur Klarstellung muss ich noch einmal betonen, dass es kein WLan-Projekt des Berliner Senats gegeben hat und gibt. Die Wirtschaftsverwaltung war vielmehr bemüht, die Bedingungen für ein privates Investment und private Betreiber, speziell im Hinblick auf die eventuelle Nutzung Berliner Lichtsignalanlagen und Lampenmasten, zu klären. In meiner Verwaltung wurden zu dieser Thematik mehrere Gespräche auch mit der Berliner Freifunkszene geführt. Und wir haben allen potentiellen Interessenten für den Betrieb bzw. möglichen Investoren stets den direkten Kontakt und die Prüfung der Kooperationsmöglichkeiten mit der Berliner Freifunkszene empfohlen. (http://www.direktzu.de/wolf/messages/21033)

Mittlerweile gibt es weitere Entwicklungen und zahlreiche Nachfragen von Journalisten zur Position der Freifunker. Die taz schreibt zunächst über das Senats-Projekt ohne Freifunk zu erwähnen:

Kostenloses Internet selbst im Park könnte bald Wirklichkeit werden. Die Senatsverwaltung für Wirtschaft und Technologie bereitet derzeit die Ausschreibung für einen öffentlichen und kostenlosen Internetzugang über Funk vor, wie Sprecherin Brigitte Schmidt der taz sagte. Über deren genaue Inhalte seien noch keine Angaben möglich; allerdings solle das Papier "in den nächsten Wochen" fertig sein. Eine ursprünglich geplante Pilotphase falle weg. Die Ausschreibung zu formulieren sei aufwendig, weil "ganz genaue Bedingungen" gestellt werden müssten. Das betreffe etwa das Stadtbild, da die Installation von technischen Geräten notwendig sei. (taz, Svenja Bergt, 19.8.2009, Internet ist die Straße von morgen, http://www.taz.de/regional/berlin/aktuell/artikel/1/internet-liegt-in-de...)

Im Kommentar gibt es dann aber doch noch ein Statement zu Freifunk:

Fähige Leute gibt es nicht nur in Unternehmen. Sondern auch und gerade in alternativen Kontexten - wie hier der Freifunkszene. Jetzt muss der Senat Mut beweisen und neue Wege gehen. Denn das Internet wird eines Tages vergleichbar wichtig werden wie ein Straße. Und das Straßennetz vergibt der Senat ja auch nicht an ein Unternehmen. (taz, Kommentar von Svenja Bergt, 18.8.2009, Internet ist die Straße von morgen, http://www.taz.de/regional/berlin/aktuell/artikel/1/internet-ist-die-str...)

In der Berliner Zeitung vom 20. August ist von einem kostenlosen Basisdienst dann aber nicht mehr die Rede:

"Das öffentliche WLAN für Berlin wird demnächst erst einmal ausgeschrieben. Wer es nutzen möchte, muss dafür bezahlen" (Barbara Weitzel, Berliner Zeitung, 20. August, http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv...)

Richtig wird die allgemeine Stimmung in der Community wiedergegeben:

"Die Berliner Netz-Community würde es lieber sehen, wenn das Netz nicht in der Privatwirtschaft ausgeschrieben würde. Beim Bürgerfunknetz Freifunk, über das man sich in einigen Stadtteilen bereits kostenlos ins Internet einwählen kann, befürchtet man zu viel Werbung und ein Ende des Netzes, wenn sich das Projekt für das Unternehmen nicht auszahlt. "Ein öffentliches Funknetz sollte sich auch in öffentlicher Hand befinden", so der Grünen-Abgeordnete und Freifunk-Sympathisant Stefan Ziller. "Kommerzielle Interessen passen nicht zu einem freien Netz." Für die Wirtschaftsverwaltung kommt das jedoch nicht in Frage: " Für den Betrieb eines solchen Netzes verfügt das Land weder über genug Geld noch verstehen wir genug davon", sagt Nehring-Venus." (Barbara Weitzel, Berliner Zeitung, 20. August, http://www.berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung/archiv...)

Meine Meinung hierzu, wenn der Senat nicht über die Expertise verfügt ein Netz zu betreiben, wieso holt er sich die Expertise nicht aus der Stadt?

In Berlin existiert das größte und modernste Meshnetzwerk der Welt, eine Hochtechnologie über die uns weltweit Städte und Firmen beneiden. Das Netz wurde in Eigeninitiative von Bürgern, Unternehmen und mit Unterstützung der Kirchen aufgebaut und deckt auf Dachebene nach Schätzungen bereits 90% des Berliner Innenstadtbereichs ab. Kosten entstanden hierfür für die Stadt nicht. Das als Experiment gestartete Netz wird seit mehr als 5 Jahren betrieben und funktioniert seitdem zuverlässig. Wir haben ausgewiesene Experten, Firmen und Selbständige, die im Freifunkumfeld tätig sind und dem Senat gerne als Ansprechpartner zur Verfügung stehen.

Es wäre eine Irreführung zu behaupten, dass bei der Benutzung von Ampeln und Straßenlaternen keine Kosten anfielen, wenn eine einzelne Firma dies für ein privates WLAN-Netz benutzen würde. Die Freifunk-Community dagegen hat bereits gezeigt, wie ein Netz nachhaltig und kostenneutral betrieben werden kann. Zur Frage der Rechtssicherheit liegen ebenfalls Untersuchungen und eine Doktorarbeit von Dr. Reto Mantz vor.

Mit Unterstützung der Stadt und der Zulassung von Freifunkroutern in Laternen kann noch viel mehr erreicht werden. Gegenwärtig sind öffentliche Angebote von Internet sehr rar. In Bibliotheken wird Geld für Computer und Internetzugang ausgegeben, es fallen aber 2 Euro nach der ersten Stunde pro Stunde an. Dies ist für viele in der Stadt zuviel. Mit Freifunk können in vielen Bereichen Kosten für derartige Dienste dramatisch gesenkt werden.

Genehmigungen für die Aufstellung von Routern auf Dächern der städtischen Gebäude, die offizielle Anerkennung des jahrelangen Bürgerengagements und die Zusammenarbeit mit lokalen Firmen aus dem Freifunkumfeld können ein großflächiges Wachstum des Freifunk-Netzes befördern und das Ziel eines freien Stadtnetzes über das die Stadt einen Basis-Internetdienst zur Verfügung stellen kann, für alle sehr bald Wirklichkeit werden lassen. Kosten hierfür wären dank der in der Stadt seit Jahren eingesetzten und getesteten Freifunktechnologie sehr niedrig. Zudem kann die Stadt auf das stets wachsende Netz von Routern (momentan 700) von Freiwilligen zurückgreifen. Eine einzelne Firma könnte Derartiges insbesondere unter dem Anspruch Gewinn zu erwirtschaften nicht realisieren.

Eine Möglichkeit ist, dass ein Verein oder eine gemeinnützige GmbH als Betreiber eines Stadtnetzes agiert, welches mit dem Freifunknetz der Bürger kompatibel ist. Bürger haben so im öffentlichen Raum Zugang zum lokalen Freifunknetz und zu privaten oder öffentlichen Internetdiensten. Die Lebensqualität der Bürger erhöht sich und Berlin zieht endlich gleich mit Städten wir Singapur, Taipei, Tokio oder Seoul.

Kategorien: 

Debconf11: The Debian Conference and Camp Proposal for 2011 from Germany

On Tuesday, June 2 2009 sixteen members of the local Debian and FOSS community met in Berlin to discuss a possible bid from Germany for the Debconf11. We had some discussions at DebConf8 already and also our DPL promoted the idea. There is a strong desire in the local community to get the Debconf to Germany for the first time. The participation at the informally organized Berlin meeting was already overwhelming. There is a big and active group of very welcoming and friendly local supporters and there is an excellent and cost effective infrastructure available to host the event and contributors from all over the world. We had a follow up about a Berlin bid during the Linuxtag on June 26, 2009, where bidders from Rhein/Rhur and Munich also presented their ideas for bids. We decided to submit only one bid for Debconf11 from Germany and will have an internal German process to decide which bid will work out best. During the Debconf9 there was a presentation of the bids from Germany.

 

Presentation by: Berlin - Torsten Werner, Rhein/Ruhr - Rene Engelhard, München - Michael BanckLinks

* http://debconf.org 

* Debconf 11 Germany Wiki page: http://wiki.debconf.org/wiki/DebConf11/Germany

* Mailing list: http://lists.debconf.net/mailman/listinfo/debconf11-germany

* Archive: http://lists.debconf.net/lurker-net/list/debconf11-germany.html

* IRC: #debconf11-germany on irc.debian.org AKA OFTC 

Harald Welte auf dem Linuxtag in Berlin

Chris Wickert running for Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee

A good friend of mine, Chris Wickert, is running for the Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee. Chris is a big contributor and supporter of LXDE and I value Christoph's contributions to the free software community a lot and especially his commitment to make computer systems more accessible to people who do not own high end computers, be it here in Europe or anywhere else in the world:

  • Christoph is the maintainer of Xfce and LXDE in Fedora, the lightweight desktops in Fedora.
  • His goals are to make Fedora more lightweight and less ressource hungry as well as keeping depencies low.

Christoph Wickert

To be able to vote for Chris you need to have a (1) Fedora Account and (2) be accepted in a group, for example as a Fedora Ambassador. Voting is possible until June 22, 2009. Chris is the most active distro package maintainer of LXDE in Fedora. His engagements is a great success for both Fedora and LXDE as the large interest at Chemnitzer Linuxtage and other events have shown recently.

A quote from Chris Wickert:
(I want to) … improve packaging quality and enforce higher standards for better cross desktop interoperability. Try to reduce the dependency bloat to make sure Fedora does not become too fat, so it still can be used on older or smaller hardware like netbooks or the OLPC without too much pain.

If you are interested to find out more about the community elections at Fedora, please check out: https://admin.fedoraproject.org/voting/about/fescof12

Links

* Blog of Chris Wickert http://www.christoph-wickert.de/blog/
* LXDE: http://lxde.org
* Join Fedora https://admin.fedoraproject.org/accounts
* https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Elections/Questionnaire
* http://www.leemhuis.info/files/fedora/answers.txt
* http://www.leemhuis.info/files/fedora/answers-table.ods
* https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Meetings:Town_Hall_FESCo_2009-06-03_1400

Community First!

The current release of MySQL shows the problems free and open source software projects face that put business first and community second. Michael “Monty” Widenius critizes in his Blog the current developement model of MySQL and recommends not to use the current release 5.1 of the database system.

The reason I am asking you to be very cautious about MySQL 5.1 is that there are still many known and unknown fatal bugs in the new features that are still not addressed.

Monty points out problems stemming from having a company taking the lead in the development of a free software system - cause they need something to sell fast. In this article I am supporting the view of Monty and discuss his views in regards to Freifunk and LXDE. I believe communities must take the lead in order to make and keep a project on the bleeding edge, however, we should work together with companies (like FON.com for Freifunk or ASUS for LXDE) and exchange resources. Both can profit. In the end open and free community projects are all about cooperation.

In his blog entry Monty gives some reasons why the MySQL development department again got a quality problem with the release. Problems are ranging from the fact that MySQL 5.1 was declared a release candidate to early (because of commercial reasons), to focussing too much on new features rather than on quality (because of commercial reasons), to involving developers that are not experienced in developing database systems (Mario: Maybe because they do not come from the community?), to not keeping the development open for testing and participation of the community and more.

As I said in my talk at the MySQL users conference, I think it’s time to seriously review how the MySQL server is being developed and change the development model to be more like Drizzle and PostgreSQL where the community has a driving role in what gets done! (http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2008/11/oops-we-did-it-again-mysql-51-rel...)

What can we learn for the free software and other open source projects here? The consequences are clear. Projects that want to stay on the bleeding edge of technology with quality code and widespread support must put the community first.

In the projects I participate - e.g. freifunk, LXDE, FOSS Bridge - I always work hard to bring the community together, make the community grow and keep and foster it. And this is not always easy. There are different expectations of people involved, different goals and outside circumstances change and have positive and negative effects.

For example, even though the Freifunk community was in the spotlight many times in the last two years, it seemed somehow stagnating. We had put a lot of resources to rebuild the website and foster more exchange, but with the broader availability of broadband in some districts in Berlin for example the motivation of people to participate to get constant Internet access became less. Additionally new business models seemed to draw people away from freifunk to something that seemed easier to use and offer many things similar to Freifunk. However Freifunk is more than mere exchange of free Internet access. The idea of Freifunk is to build a local network - the public space in cyberspace, but we did not have the tools easy enough giving everyone the chance to build the local network with the limited resources, especially time!, that people have.. but we are getting there with simpler software and easier to use devices.

FON.com received different reactions in the core groups of the global Freifunk community when it started, ranging from refusing any connection with FON to trying to ignoring it. Some welcomed FON and their involvement. FON pays some of the core OpenWRT developers which is the base of the Freifunk Firmware and it offers new hardware, that can also be used by the Freifunk community. Personally I do not mind working together with FON. As I see it, we have to be pragmatic and everyone has to make a living and the Freifunk community could profit from the involvement of FON and other companies. I would like the decision if people from the community work for and with FON left to the person him/herself. At a recent meeting in Berlin, I have discussed this a bit with Martin Varsavsky. Martin actually asked me how FON could work together more with the Freifunk community.

We should be clear here though. FON and Freifunk are two very different things. FON is a company that labels its participants (actually its customers) community. Freifunk is a community with many different people - students, engineers, scientists, free and open source activists, people who want Internet, people who want a truly free network, people using it for their business, people working for development cooperation and so on. People have different motivations to participate in Freifunk - interest for technology and development, Internet access, interest in new ideas and projects, inspired by idea of freedom, a way to make a living. These people would not participate if Freifunk was a commercial operation. I remember the saying of some ¨Money destroys the community¨. It is formulated in this regard, I believe.

Still, we should not be absolute here - meaning - we should acquire resources and money for the community -> for conferences, events, hardware for developers, funding for projects etc.. Based on my experience of the last years, communities need resources. We should study successful models of communities that have achieved to channel resources to the people really working on it. Associations, Foundations and similar organisations are very helpful here as they keep things transparent and offer newcomers entry points. Also companies that would like to support projects have it easier to talk to someone from the community if there is a working organisation set up.

During recent months I have seen more activity in the Freifunk community again. With the new OpenWRT Firmware Freifunk will have many features which we want for years. I am always talking about the fantastic things we can do in local networks - new usage cases and sharing of content in your local environment, community radio in schools, universities or simply your backyard. Local networks are different to the Internet as cinema to TV. Felix Fietkau and John have presented a development version of OpenWRT to a group in Berlin recently. The new OpenWRT will offer plugins that will let us store content directly on the nodes. With router devices offering USB connections now everyone can have their small webserver at home. We can have a local Web 2.0. With devices connected to sensors like thermometers we can have live feeds from all over the city, the country and worldwide. I do not want this local Web 2.0 called after a company, a device or anything else. We call this FREIFUNK. A global local = glocal network open to everyone - to the public and to companies.

Companies are always welcome to join development and focus on their business models. However, Open Source, Open Infrastructure and Free Software Projects like Freifunk and LXDE or Open Content projects like Wikipedia have a roadmap that is following long term goals instead of short term profitability. And people are engaging here not just for monetary reasons, they have much broader motivations and they are inspired by the freedom the communities offer. This is why communities are more powerful. Companies simply cannot compete with this in terms of human resources and motivation. In order to grow and sustain free and open projects and the communities though we need to work together in our different fields and we need companies that engage and support the communities.

Subscribe to RSS - Community