Fancy dinners, cgroups and namespaces, and meet-ups

Weeks 09 and 10 of 2015 have seen … a presentation at the internet-of-things-flavored Embedded World about “Defensive Strategies in Open Source”, Berlin FSFE fellowship and Open Source meet-ups, farewell dinners, theatre, an interview for a master thesis about organisations influenced by Open Source, a lot of reading and researching about software and patents and EC decisions on competition, the beginning of an office hunt, a very cool presentation on namespaces and cgroups in Linux, and a (very) fancy dinner. And my “2” key isn’t working well :-)

Embedded World is a pretty interesting conference that takes place in Nuremberg in February. Internet of Things seems to be the current motto. Open Source technologies, especially Linux in various incarnations of the stack have become a mainstay in embedded computers. Nicholas McGuire of OSADL organised a one day workshop on “Legal Aspects of Open Source”, where I presented about “Defensive strategies in Open Source – patent non-aggression and the Open Invention Network”.

Miriam Ballhausen of JBB Rechtsanwälte presented right before me about intricacies of Open Source licensing. Our two presentations nicely complemented each other, with me focusing more in what challenges FLOSS communities experience when managing the fine line between collaborating on building base technologies while still competing in the areas that differentiate for their users. One of the claims in my presentation is that the legal implications of using FLOSS gather so much attention because the underlying process changes are rather dramatic and challenge the established legal frameworks that have been designed with the traditional competitive (as opposed to collaborative) way of inventing. There was time for dinner, too. The regional food in Nuremberg is hearty and delicious. Excellent local beer is made there, and Schäufele is my favorite local dish:

When I was back from Nuremberg on Thursday, I had to deal with a rather unpleasant contractual issue with a client. One lesson learned from it is to either bring in the lawyers before a contract is signed and cover all bases, or later handle project issues like grown-ups and settle them between the engineers. Bringing in legal counsel when a project is mostly complete probably just means spending way too much time explaining why things weren’t done by the book, without getting to results. However it looks like the parties are getting their act together and will finally finish the work soon.

On Thursday evening I attended the Berlin FSFE Fellowship meeting. It was right after Jonas Öberg started as the new executive director for FSFE, and it was a chance to meet and congratulate him and to wish him good luck. This marks a development of FSFE to re-organise it’s leadership, by separating the ED’s and the president’s jobs. Endocode just became a FSFE sponsor, Karl wrote about it here.

Before the weekend it was time for Endocode’s partners (aka shareholders) to conduct their monthly management meeting. We, too, are trying to split operational and long-term oriented work with weekly meetings that handle all short-term issues and monthly meetings. It is important to set aside time to focus on more visionary aspects. Otherwise random issues that crop up will always take priority, preventing processes from developing and things from improving. After that, we went to Mirchi in Kreuzberg to bid farewell to ex-colleague and co-KDE-contributor Kevin Funk who is moving away. Just for completeness we finished the week at the Savoy bar with fancy cocktails.

On Saturday we went to see an amateur theatre production by Berlin’s StageInk theatre company. The play was a self-written piece with a ghost-ship story line. The group apparently practised for 18 months to in the end deliver 4 performances — it feels like a waste because it was actually really quite good. More people should see it :-)

Then finally on Sunday the city saw the first Open Source Meetup for 2015, organised by my esteemed colleague Chris. A good mix of contributors and other interested people, discussions about the relations between European languages and kernel multithreading implementations, and good food at Naan.

So started week 10. On Monday Sandra interviewed me for her master’s thesis. She is researching success factors of Open Source companies. Endocode’s philosophy is to a large extend inspired by Open Source culture. The interview was not just a one way flow of information, it was also a chance to reflect on what the motivations and thoughts were at the time, and what came out of them. I drew two conclusions: First, the goals we initially set out for, mostly to create a company that puts individuals at the center and tries to build a place in which they can thrive, have been reached for the most part (which doesn’t mean it is all done, of course). Second, this means that the next challenge is to keep this spirit while the company grows to a size that requires more than ad-hoc organisation. This realisation ties in nicely with the series of strategy workshops we started. Exciting times ahead.

Afternoon reads included Software and Patents in Europe by Philip Leith. I find that book well-research and -reflected. Certainly a recommended read, especially because it does not argue from the Open Source community’s perspective. Sometimes it is more educational to read competing opinions, it helps get out of the self-imposed filter bubble. It was accompanied by European Commission Decisions on Competition, which gives a fascinating overview (if you are into that kind of thing) of the landmark cases of EC rulings on competition.

On Tuesday we started the process of looking for a new office for Endocode. As usual, we moved into our current place with the intention to stay there for 3 to 4 years, and then outgrew it within 18 months. Not that I am complaining. We are now looking for a 300-400qm place in central Berlin, to start the next phase. In the evening at the next Endocode meet-up, Alban presented about the Linux kernel APIs for containers, like cgroups and namespaces. Those are the underlying technologies for many of the things we are currently working on, including CoreOS, Docker and Rocket. Fascinating, if you are an operating system nerd (which deep down, I am), and nothing short of revolutionary.

The rest of the week was not that spectacular, short of a 5 hour meeting attended by phone bridge (the audio quality of these is so bad, my kids have better recording equipment at home :-), and the beginning of a brainstorm for the presentation on March 17. However… the weekend… We spend it in the countryside of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, at Ich weiss ein Haus am See. The stay was my birthday present to Alex, who is a foodie extraordinaire. The restaurant of the place was one of the first in eastern Germany to receive a Michelin star. Conveniently, Saturday was my birthday, so we had double the reasons to celebrate. The four-course dinner was outstanding from start to finish, and the ambience is just beautiful. We both did not bring computers or phones to dinner, so no food pictures. It is all left to your imagination :-)

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