EuroOSCON 2006

I've just returned from three days of Open Source Software and a lot of networking. My collegue Edwin and me have visited the The 2006 O'Reilly European Open Source Convention in Brussels.


During the three days of sessions, we've learned a lot and have met some very interesting people. In this article, I'll try to summarize the highlights...

Tuesday began with an opening talk by Tim O'Reilly about the future of Open Source. After that we learned more about the endless possibilities of Drupal, which we also use for the iRex website.

Some other talks focussed on a very hot topic at the moment: Geo Location. With the coming of Google Maps, a lot of websites and services have emerged that use Geo Data. We saw that using Open Software and Open Data, it is possible to Roll Your Own Google Maps.

At the end of the day, there was a talk by Benjamin Smedberg of the Mozilla Foundation, about Building Internet Applications with Mozilla XULRunner. My main interest was talking to Benjamin afterwards about possibilities for using XULRunner as an embedded webbrowser. Fortunately he confirmed that my plans with the iLiad HTML browser were indeed a valid route and we exchanged business cards and the hopes that iRex could stick to Mozilla, instead of moving to proprietary (closed source) alternatives.

The day was concluded in the center of Brussels, where we joined some friends of Edwin of the Jabber Software Foundation for Hoegaarden and Ribs.

Wednesday started as Jabber day, when my newly acquired friend Peter Saint-Andre talked about the future of Jabber and the XMPP protocol. Also, there were some interesting mobile devices related talks, including one by Johan Wikman of Nokia about their Mobile Web Server project. Apparently, Nokia has ported Apache to the new Symbian/S60 operating system and is trying to create open source tools which allow you to host a website on your mobile phone. The idea is nice, but it really lacks answers to a lot of important questions, like how to keep it secure.

In the afternoon, the webdeveloper in me was very much surprised by the usefullness and elegance of the Yahoo! Javascript UI Library, that was demonstrated by Simon Willison. We also learned how Microsoft keeps opposing the Open Document Format and how the definition and adoption of such a format is essential to the future of our public data, especially in government.

The evening was devoted to MAKE-fest: self-proclaimed inventors and basement tinkerers showed their cool Makings in real life. Edwin got his picture plotted by a home-made drawing-bot and I marvelled over an espresso-machine, built in an old server housing.

Thursday, Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz started off with the interesting claim that to increase the participation of non-English speaking countries in the writing of Open Source Software, the source code itself would need to be localized.

Afterwards we learned some very usefull tricks to enhance the performance of PHP5-based web applications, by analyzing their resource usage with Callgrind and their performance using http_load.

Next, Arnoud Engelfried of the Intellectual Properties and Standards devision of Royal Philips explained how companies can safely mix open and closed source software in their products. Interesting stuff, especially since I had my iRex hat on.

At the end of the day, everyone came together to listen to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu. He shared his vision on the steps still to be taken to make Free Software really 'for human beings'.


Matthijs demonstrating the iLiad
During all of the days, the iLiad was admired by the conference-goers. Brady Forrest even decided to write about it on the O'Reilly Radar.
For more EuroOSCON'06 pictures of Edwin, have a look in his Flickr album.


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