Spring 2018 Talks

The Keynotes

Exploring the Open Knowledge Landscape
Lorna Campbell, University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK

Through a culture of collaboration and sharing, Open Knowledge has the potential to expand inclusive and equitable access to education and lifelong learning, promoting technology transfer and innovation, enhancing quality and sustainability, while supporting social inclusion and preparing the public to become fully engaged digital citizens.

This talk will give a broad overview of the different domains, communities and cultures that make up the “Open Knowledge Landscape”, including open education, OER, open courseware, open textbooks, MOOCs, open data, open science, open access scholarly works, maker spaces, open GLAM, open government, etc, and how they relate to free and libre open source systems.

We have seen significant progress in many of these areas in recent years, yet there has been a tendency for many of these domains to progress in parallel, in bounded spaces, with little sign of convergence. So while Open Access mandates have had a positive impact on opening access to scholarly works and research data, open government initiatives have successfully started to open up civic data and information, and open science networks and infrastructure are flourishing, too often these initiatives fail to connect with other open communities and as a result we are in danger of creating “open silos”. There may be no one simple solution to breaking down the barriers between these “open silos” but exploring the converging and competing cultures and communities of the Open Knowledge landscape is a positive step forward to achieving a more open, inclusive and equitable society.

About Lorna

Lorna has almost twenty years experience working in education technology and interoperability standards and now works for the Open Educational Resources (OER) Service within the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services Group. Lorna has a long standing commitment to supporting open education technology, policy and practice; she founded the Open Scotland initiative, co-chaired the OER16 Open Culture Conference, and is the driving force behind the Scottish Open Education Declaration.

Lorna is also a Trustee of Wikimedia UK and the Association for Learning Technology, and a member of the Open Knowledge Open Education Working Group Advisory Board. Lorna’s blog, Open World, can be found at lornamcampbell.org.

(Image courtesy of: CC-BY-SA-4.0, Mike Peel, Wikimedia Common)

You think you’re not a target? A tale of three developers…
Chris Lamb, Debian Project Leader

If you develop or distribute software of any kind, you are vulnerable to whole categories of attacks upon yourself or your loved ones. This includes blackmail, extortion or “just” simple malware injection… By targeting software developers such as yourself, malicious actors, including nefarious governments, can infect and attack thousands — if not millions — of end users.

How can we avert this? The idea behind “reproducible” builds is to allow verification that no flaws have been introduced during build processes; this prevents against the installation of backdoor-introducing malware on developers’ machines, ensuring attempts at extortion and other forms of subterfuge are quickly uncovered and thus ultimately futile.

Through a story of three different developers, this talk will engage you on this growing threat to you and how it affects everyone involved in the production lifecycle of software development, as well as how reproducible builds can help prevent against it.

About Chris

(Website: https://chris-lamb.co.uk/)
(Twitter: @lolamby)

Chris is a freelance computer programmer and the primary author of dozens of free/open-source projects and contributor to 100s of others. Chris also runs a number of web services.

Chris has been an official Debian Developer since 2008 and is currently serving as the Debian Project Leader.

Chris is highly active in the Reproducible Builds project, has been awarded a grant from the Core Infrastructure Initiative to fund work in this area.

Chris previously worked as Technical Architect at Playfire.com(acquired) & Thread.com (YCombinator S12). He is highly experienced in full-stack web development with a focus on backend development using Django and system administration but you can find his latest programming interests on his blog.

In his spare time Chris is an avid readerfilm-goer, an Ironman, as well as a classical cellist, regularly performing in public concerts.

The Talks

Forensically looking at Digital Images (pictures)
Simon Biles

During this talk, we would look at the analysis of digital images. We will look at the different file formats, and the ways of determining if an image has been altered or not.

About Simon

Simon is an Information Security and Digital Forensics Specialist. He’s lectured at DeMontfort University on Digital Forensics – most notably on “Alternative Operating Systems” – which, let’s face it, is what most of the attendees of this conference will be using – ‘cos basically it means “Anything that isn’t Windows”… He’s cropped up at a couple of FLOSS Spring Schools previously, so really he should know better by now, rather than doing talks instead…

IncludeOS – a performance-oriented production-ready unikernel
Per Buer

Back when we had punch-card, batch-oriented computers we had systems that had ~100% efficiency. The computers could concentrate fully on the task at hand and were not distracted by having to handle multiple users or processors. As needs changed computers where time-shared and interactive, having to handle multiple tasks at once. UNIX is a direct result of this research.

Today, virtual computers are completely commoditized. The cost of a computer has fallen to more or less zero. However, we still rely upon multi-process and multi-users systems, even though the systems themselves only handle a single task executed as a single user.

Unikernels turn this paradigm on its head. There are multiple implementations available, all stemming from the work on MirageOS done at Cambridge. One of these implementations is IncludeOS, taking its name from the C/C++ pragma “#include <os>” which can be found in the source of the all the application.

As unikernels are minimal by nature, certain application niches have been identified. Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) is one. Having small and efficient virtual machines taking care of tasks such are firewalling and load balancing is a natural choice.

Also due to its minimalistic nature, IncludeOS also has very interesting ultra-low latency performance. As opposed to traditional real-time operating systems that rely on process preemption to guarantee latency, IncludeOS can give similar guarantees by making sure nothing else is scheduled on the CPU.

The talk will contain two demonstrations. The first demonstration will show how a “Hello World” operating system can be written, built and run, using a virtual inside of Qemu. The second demonstration will show how “Liveupdate” works. Liveupdate is a built-in mechanism that allows an IncludeOS application to update itself without losing state or downtime. Due to its single address space, IncludeOS can retain state across reboots.

About Per

Per Buer is the co-founder and CEO of IncludeOS, a performance and security-focused unikernel. He has previously founded the company Varnish Software and has worked about 10 years as a sysadmin before that.

Deploying your SaaS stack OnPrem
Kris Buytaert

Even today a lot of organisations are not using “Cloud” or “SaaS” platforms , but they want the same functionality as these SaaS platforms. When that call comes it’s a hard dilemma between growing your customer base or not. This talk will discuss our experiences in running an existing Open Source Software as a Service platform on premise at a customer. It will show you all the pitfalls and painpoints we went trough in doing this, even when we had a Infrastucture as Code and Continuous Delivery as our primary values. We’ll discuss what tools we used, why we selected only Open Source tools and what our lessons learned are.

About Kris

(Website: http://krisbuytaert.be/index.shtml)
(Twitter: @KrisBuytaert)

Kris Buytaert is a long time Linux and Open Source Consultant. He’s one of instigators of the devops movement, currently working for Inuits

He is frequently speaking at, or organizing different international conferences and has written about the same subjects in different Books, Papers and Articles

He spends most of his time working on bridging the gap between developers and operations with a strong focus on High Availability, Scalability , Virtualisation and Large Infrastructure Management projects hence trying to build infrastructures that can survive the 10th floor test, better known today as the cloud while actively promoting the devops idea !

His blog titled “Everything is a Freaking DNS Problem” can be found at http://www.krisbuytaert.be/blog . Kris’ attendance will be sponsored by Inuits (http://inuits.eu/).

Internet of Things at the University of Edinburgh
Simon Chapple

This talk will cover a number of items including the creation of our new Research and Innovation IoT Service for researchers and students at the University of Edinburgh that incorporates our own managed LoRaWAN based IoT network covering the whole of central Edinburgh; and provide implementation details and present data visualisation with sound clips from our CitySound project (an EU OrganiCity funded project) for biodiversity monitoring in the urban environment that utilises a Raspberry Pi Zero W running Raspbian Linux.

What’s New in OpenLDAP
Howard Chu

Status of the OpenLDAP 2.4 and 2.5 releases, new performance enhancements and other features in 2.5, and the state of the Project. OpenLDAP 2.4 has been in feature freeze so we can focus on preparing OpenLDAP 2.5 for release. The 2.5 code has performance enhancements in the thread pool, connection manager, and back-mdb, as well as new features like back-asyncmeta, the asynchronous metadirectory backend, automatic Certificate Authority overlay etc. Also new features being introduced in LMDB 1.0

About Howard

Howard Chu has been writing Free/Open Source software since the 1980s. His work has spanned a wide range of computing topics, including most of the GNU utilities (gcc, gdb, gmake, etc.), networking protocols and tools, kernel and filesystem drivers, and focused on maximizing the useful work from a system. Howard founded Symas Corp. with 5 other partners in 1999 and serves as its CTO. His current focus is database oriented, covering LDAP, LMDB, and other non-relational database technologies.

Is the IBM Power Server the best platform for open source deployments?
Jerry Crossfield

I guess the easy option is to drop an open source workload into a public cloud such as AWS or Azure or maybe rack up a number of VMs on a bunch of x86 servers. However Jerry Crossfield from L3C will discuss an alternative option looking at the potential benefits of deploying on IBM’s Power8 (soon to be Power9) platform. MongoDB, Postgres, MariaDB and a host of open source technologies can benefit from the Power platform.

Am I condemned to a life of sleepless nights worrying about the stability and cost of my legacy Unix environment?
Jerry Crossfield

Many Unix systems (AIX, HPUX, Solaris) still operate at the core of an enterprise’s environment running key business applications. However many of these are on older, now unsupported versions that are becoming increasingly unstable, typically with DR that is not fit for purpose and ever increasing maintenance costs. Here we explore how even the most complex environments can be migrated to a modern platform that improves service levels, improves DR, eases costs and provides the platform and scalability for new growth initiatives.

About Jerry

Jerry is COO of L3C Limited, who specialise in AIX and Unix cloud/hosting services and providing a platform for the incubation and innovation of AI applications. After many years in IBM Global Services and then setting up IBM’s Cloud Service Provider business, he joined L3C in 2014 to be at the heart of a new vision and approach. Jerry presents at several events on a range of subjects from how to address legacy environments through to cloud and new technologies such as blockchain and AI. Jerry’s presentations will give a non-biased and entertaining view of the subject matter.

L3C are a cloud and hosting services provider specialising in the Power platform and will share experiences of open source deployments on Power and the benefits over x86 based environments.

Relax-and-Recover Automated Testing
Gratien D’haese

Relax-and-Recover Automated Testing is a sub-project of Relax-and-Recover to perform fully automated recovery tests without human intervention. This way we can quickly verify every unstable release and test each commit as soon as it fits us.

Relax-and-Recover (ReaR) is a bare metal Disaster Recovery tool that can save you hours (and sometimes days) to recover a system from scratch in case of failure. However, for us developers before making a new release it is a real nightmare to test all the different Linux distributions in combination with all the known workflows that ReaR provides. It used to be a manual process of testing the recovery, but we managed to automate the whole process for some workflows. We will explain the internals of how we do automated testing and we will give a live demo as well.

About Gratien

Gratien D’haese is a Belgian independent IT Consultant who is already 28 years active in the Unix world (and with Linux since its invention in 1991). Gratien has a broad experience with Unix in general, Unix networking and security, big system administration tasks, clustering, consultancy, DevOps and project management.

Gratien is quite active in the Unix/Linux Open Source world and is giving talks around various topics since the days of the Belgian UNIX Users Group and other organizations promoting Unix/Linux and the Open Source movement. On occasions he talks about his projects on conferences, such as at Fosdem, LinuxTag, T-Dose, and LOAD with talks around Relax-and-Recover, IPv6, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity processes.

Gratien is the co-founder and main designer of Relax-and-Recover (rear) together with Schlomo Schapiro (from Germany). This project started in 2006 and the software is part of RHEL, Fedora, EPEL and SLES HA – [http://relax-and-recover.org/]

Gratien is also involved with other Open Source projects, such as “Relax-and-Recover Automated Testing”, Upgrade-ux, WBEMextras, Config2HTML, SANmigration, and some more little projects.

Open Source Neuroimaging: Developing a State-of-the-Art Brain Scanner with Linux and FPGAs
Ben Dooks

Neuroimaging is an established medical field which is helping us to learn more about how the human brain works, the most complex human organ.
This talk aims to cover neuroimaging systems, from hobbyist to professional, and how open source has been used to build state-of-the-art systems. We’ll have a look the general problem area, why open source was a good fit, and some examples of solutions including a commercial effort that we have been involved in developing. Typically these solutions consist of specialist hardware, a bespoke software solutions stack, and a suite to manage and process the vast amounts of data generated during the scan.
Other points of interest include how we approached building a maintainable and upgradeable system from the outset. We’ll also talk about future plans for neuroimaging, future ideas for hardware & discuss areas lacking good open source solutions.

About Ben

Ben is a developer specialising in open-source projects such as Linux kernel development and customisation.

He is a long time contributor to Linux kernel and has a keen interest in open-source hardware.

Building modern embedded systems with Yocto and OpenEmbedded
Philip Downer

I’ve been working with embedded systems professionally for 15 years, from small custom in-house software platforms to customised versions of Linux distributions. Over the last 5 years I’ve been using Yocto to build custom Linux distributions for various projects, I’ve given a talk on the lifecycle of a previous project at Fosdem and this would be an expansion on that talk to cover Yocto in general. I intend to cover what sort of projects it’s useful for, common embedded devboard platforms, building robust remote update procedures using A+B recovery partitions and security. I shall also cover my latest personal projects which use yocto on the raspberry pi and why it’s better to look at Yocto instead of the standard raspberry pi distributions.

How to make good and difficult decisions
Bernd Erk

Suit or shirt, tea or coffee, cloud or on premise. Our whole life is a combination of conscious and subconscious decisions. They can be made through either an intuitive or reasoned process, or a combination of the two. Independent from the level of difficulty we fall victim to the same cognitive and personal biases. Especially personal and cultural decisions are sometimes hard to make, cause the establishment and enumeration of the underlying criteria is hard.

The technological developments of the last decade have made poor decision making easier, more immediate, and more widely consequential. A good understanding of your decision making process and well known biases helps you to make better judgment. That said the talk will give you a psychology overview about the process of decision making and common pitfalls. It will share some tricks to make the right choices and cases of invaluable weak criteria.

About Bernd

Bernd Erk is CEO and co-founder of Icinga. In his day job he is CEO at NETWAYS, a German open source service company. As contributor to Linux Magazine and Admin Magazine, Bernd regularly publishes articles and presents on open source topics ranging from monitoring, configuration management to various open source datacenter solutions. He tries to spread the DevOps spirit wherever and whenever possible.

Shifting the acceptance approach in a DevOps team
Assaf Flatto

DevOps is about collaboration, but we all have opinions and ideas on how things should/can be done.

Sometimes egos collide and tension in the team can cause friction and drop productivity (or even grind to a halt), how do we negate that and what can we learn on how to ensure smooth incorporation of team members and work disciplines.

AWS + Spotinst = Winning the Cloud Cost battle (Lightning Talk)
Assaf Flatto

As a company grows the usage of the cloud usage increase and the CFO /CEO wants to reduce cost – in comes SpotInst to help find your best value/money in the spot market, hear about our use of SpotInst in CI/Jenkins and reduction of cost in Production.

About Assaf

Assaf Flatto has been a working in the Open Source community since 1995, starting with Slackware and has started working with NetSaint (now Nagios ) since version 0.6, since then he became a Linux Administrator and Nagios certified. He has been active in supporting the Nagios community by offering help and advice via the IRC channel and the (now dead) mailing list.

He is an active team member of Icinga since 2011. He has been a Linux Administrator and done Network Management for companies like the BBC, SKY, and LOVEFiLM in the UK and VoxPopuli, Atelis, and M-Wise in Israel. Currently working as a consultant in IT/DevOps and Network Management implementations for various companies.

Shaping Clouds with Terraform
Mike Fowler

Terraform is an open source tool that helps you control your infrastructure configuration through code. This talk will serve as a primer showing how to build a basic infrastructure in the Google Cloud and how we can re-use our code to construct multiple, identical environments.

About Mike

Mike Fowler encountered Linux and it’s surrounding ecosystem of open source software while reading software engineering at university. As a student he delighted in the ability to read and understand the code as well as the cost freedom to make use of software that would otherwise be out of reach.

Entering the corporate world he discovered that the commercial equivalents of many of the tools he’d grown to love were also out of his employer’s reach, Introducing open source was the easy part, keeping it running was a different matter. So began a career that mixed elements of software engineering, system administration and systems engineering.

Driven by a belief that humans should only do interesting things Mike has spent many years automating many aspects of his duties as well as the business processes within the business. Aside from the usual collection of Perl & Ansible scripts, he made heavy use of and many contributions to the YAWL project (Yet Another Workflow Engine).

Mike is a strong advocate of PostgreSQL having driven it’s adoption at many of his previous employers. He contributed some XML features to 9.1 and has made a number of bug fixes to the JDBC driver. He has spoken of these experiences as a regular speaker at PGDayUK.

With the advent of Site Reliability Engineering Mike now has a title that matches what he’s always been doing. By combining his software & systems engineering skills with his system administration experience and passion for automation he now works on behalf of Claranet with organisations to help them migrate and make better use of the Linux public cloud offerings. The open source Terraform project plays a major role which has resulted in a number of contributions back to the community.

ODF: Great standard, but what works?
Ben Martin

ODF is an open standard for storing office documents like text, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations.While ODF1.2 has been a standard for years, most tools do not fully implement the entire specification. See how many current generation office suites implement and or ignore the features of the ODF specification. I’ll also cover some open source tools which you can use to check how well your own documents are preserved across many different office suites. Some results are available at http://autotests.opendocumentformat.org/.

I have been working on tools to help you work out what is supported by each office application and see how a document is presented on a platform that you do not have access to. odfautotests runs hundreds of tests that have been derived from the ODF standard, with each test aimed at showing how well each office application preserves a specific attribute or element of the ODF standard.

So for example you can see at a glance what office application will throw away ruby text, and also see how the ruby text is presented. While you might not care about ruby text, returning an updated document to a Japanese client with it stripped out will likely lead to tension. odfserver is a new tool created this year to allow files to be uploaded to a central server and have numerous office applications load and save each file to test compatibility.

These testing tools are useful for a few groups of people. End users looking to use ODF and knowing what is properly preserved in their document. Small tests showing failing attributes are gold for developers who can then formulate plans as to which parts of the specification should be supported by their project next.

FileSender: Sharing large files across research facilities
Ben Martin

The FileSender project allows large files (100gb+) to easily be shared with people at other companies and research facilities. Uploads and downloads occur in the browser and files can be uploaded to a FileSender hosted at your organization or you can be invited as a guest to another research facility installation. Optional end to end encryption keeps the data secure from users on the server, all crypto is done in the browser keeping it simple and secure for users.

While a raw http and ftp server can be used to share files many non techical users will not have access to upload and administer one of these servers. Access control to only selected users and automatic expiration of hosted files might be difficult for users more interested in research which is outside the IT field.

FileSender supports push and pull models. To push, if you have access to a FileSender installation you can upload the file to it and inform those who you want to access the data to allow them to obtain it. To pull a file, you can create a guest on your FileSender install and invite a user to upload the data there. Guests can be subjected to specific access control, for example, only uploading a single file, and only to you.

I would love to talk about the challenges the FileSender project tries to address, the php/js code that comprise it, the history, and development of FileSender. I think it is a useful project to know and use in research and commercial environments and would love to hear feedback on where the project might want to move in the future.

Small Things for Monitoring
Jan-Piet Mens

Whether you want to monitor a bunch of temperatures or check for open doors in your data center, the ESP8266 microcontroller is a very inexpensive and easy thing to get started with. In this talk we show you a few of these tiny WiFi-enabled devices, look at a few use-cases, and we’ll also demo some things with MQTT and discuss integration into your monitoring environment.

About Jan-Piet

Jan-Piet Mens is an independent Unix/Linux consultant and sysadmin who’s worked with Unix-systems since 1985. Jan-Piet does odd bits of coding, and has architected infrastructure at major customers throughout Europe.

One of his specialities is the Domain Name System and as such, he authored the book Alternative DNS Servers as well as a variety of other technical publications. He also initiated the Open Source OwnTracks project. (http://jpmens.net)

Prometheus, cloud native monitoring
Julien Pivotto

This talk will present  Prometheus, an open source cloud native monitoring solution.  Prometheus is nicely integrated with lots of other open source pieces of software; it is data-centric and nicely coupled with multiple service discovery implementation. Come to the talk to learn more and discover what that really means!

About Julien

(Website: https://roidelapluie.be/)

Julien Pivotto is a young Open-Source consultant at Inuits where he is helping organisations with the deployment of long-term solutions based on Open-Source infrastructure. He is a strong believer in the devops movement and has technical focus towards infrastructure automation, continuous integration, monitoring and high availability.

The State of PostgreSQL
Simon Riggs

Latest details from the PostgreSQL Open Source Database project, including details of features in the latest production release PostgreSQL 10 and new features coming in PostgreSQL 11, available September 2018.

A Kubernetes cluster of sandboxed applications, using CloudABI
Ed Schouten

Over the last 2-3 years I’ve been working on an Open Source project called CloudABI. CloudABI is a very compact UNIX-like development/runtime environment. Applications built on top of it have a couple of advantages to plain Linux/BSD applications:

They are very easy to sandbox. CloudABI doesn’t offer any global namespaces, meaning that applications cannot simply open arbitrary paths on disk or connect to arbitrary hosts on the network. They can only interact with resources that are explicitly injected in the form of file descriptors.

They are easier to test. As all resources need to be injected, they can also be replaced with stubs.

They are easier to migrate between systems. The list of resources that are being injected acts as a manifest of all of a program’s dependencies.

In 2017, I’ve added support for CloudABI to Kubernetes, an Open Source cluster management system. This work allows you to add nodes to an existing Kubernetes cluster that are capable of running CloudABI applications, as opposed to running Docker containers. Not only does this improve the security of the cluster overall, it even makes it possible to use a single Kubernetes cluster in multi-tenant environments, where applications need to be fully separated.

In this talk I will give an overview of what Kubernetes is. This will be followed by an introduction to CloudABI and an explanation of how I’ve modified Kubernetes to support CloudABI.

About Ed

Ed Schouten is an Open Source enthusiast from Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He is a developer at the FreeBSD project (since 2008) and LLVM (since 2009). Until 2012 he worked as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google in Germany. In 2012, he founded the CloudABI project, whose goal it is to improve the security and maintainability of UNIX software. In the meantime, he works for Kumina, where he’s involved in various software development projects related to Kubernetes and the Prometheus monitoring system.

Conference Dinner Talk

Climate Change in One Line: Can Open Data and Open Source Solve Humanity’s Greatest-Ever Environmental Threat?
Professor Roy Thompson, FRSE

I will explore one of the biggest problems facing humankind today – climate change – and the hierarchy of complicated software that has been developed to investigate Earth’s climate.

Individual program source codes can range in length from one line to over a million lines.  Output is 200 petabytes – too big for the world’s climate-change community to ingest satisfactorily.   I will also briefly review the vast array of largely open datasets the climate-algorithms feed on.

Finally I will touch on the major problem of the lack of public acceptance of climate change science – especially the dismissal of the results of massive high-resolution models.

I may even answer the question posed in the talk’s title!

About Roy

Roy ThompsonAfter graduating from Reading (Honours B.Sc. in Geology with Mathematics), and from Newcastle (Ph.D. in Geophysics), and then holding a Research Fellowship at the Freshwater Biological Association Roy arrived in Edinburgh in 1973. He taught geophysics for 35 years; established the Geophysics & Meteorology degree; set (and marked!) more than 1600 different exam questions; and published two books and over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers before retiring in 2008. Over the years his research interests moved steadily outwards from the Earth’s core to its atmosphere. They began with the geomagnetic field (generated in the core), followed by plate tectonics (driven by mantle convection); surface processes (particularly environmental magnetism); palaeoclimate (lake-sediment records); and most recently atmospheric modelling. His current interests focus on interpreting the seasonal cycles in the iconic carbon dioxide time-series taken atop Mauna Loa; on the key global warming parameter of climate sensitivity; on developing a new climate-economics model; on the viability of fracking in the UK; and on Patrick Geddes’ vision of the evolution of cities.

How the Talks Were Selected

All of the 2018 talk submissions were judged using a ‘blind’ process. The submissions were collated by the council with identifying material removed and then a vote was taken whether to accept, reject or reserve the talk.


You can view the Workshops on their own page here.