Zentyal Summit 2012 has been announced

Zentyal Summit 2012 has been announced
Original picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Zentyal Summit 2012 has just been announced, with a more ambitious scope and plenty of surprises to disclose. Stay tuned for the spoilers! And register asap if you want to book your seat.

Disclaimer: the Indonesian children in the picture might be joyful for reasons not concerning Zentyal nor its Summit. In fact, they probably have not heard about Zentyal yet. Oh, unless they are gifted children with a passion for system administration, that could be. Anyway, they look merry.

July 31st, 2012

Back from Loadays

loadaysFOSDEM (the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is the largest OSS community developers’ meeting in the world, gathering 5000+ attendants each year, roughly double than it’s American counterpart OSCON. In both cases we are talking about thousands of attendees, really impressive figures.

Taking into account that there are way more system administrators than software developers in the world, it would be reasonable to expect a European conference for Linux sysadmins at least as big as FOSDEM, right? Well, that’s not the case. Maybe BOFHs are less social than developers. Maybe there is less need for community interaction among sysadmins. Maybe they are more product-dependant and they thus prefer attending more product-centric events. Maybe they just prefer attending events where it’s easier for them to find a girlfriend. Maybe a combination of all. But anyway, the best community conference for Linux sysadmins we found in Europe is Loadays (Linux Open Administration Days), in Antwerp (Belgium), and it sounds really tiny compared to FOSDEM.

As I needed to give it a try, I decided to I visited it last week-end and I must confess I am not disappointed. It is a young event (this was only its third edition), organized in a small school in the South of the city, with no more than 200 attendees, most of them from the Benelux. So, at first glance it looks more like a local event than a European conference.

However, the speakers did come from the whole of Europe (from France, UK and Spain to Germany, Hungary, Italy and Russia, and of course Benelux. Even some Americans) and the quality of their talks was very high. Just to get you an idea, there were lead developer and top consultants from CentOS, Puppet Labs, Percona, MariaDB, DNSSEC, Rudder, Zorp and even Zentyal, among others, in an event with no more than 30 sessions in total. Not the typical local event, right?

Also, being a small event made it easier to talk with everyone and the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy-going. It was also easy to set up pizza-diners and social events in the evenings.

Finally, I was impressed by the quality of the organization. I know how challenging it is for a small, volunteer-based team to close the required sponsorships and to get everything in place, so a big +1 for them.

In summary, Loadays is the hidden gem for European Linux sysadmins and it might get spoiled by trying to foster its popularity. So I do not encourage any reader to attend 😀

April 8th, 2012

4 lessons learned from Pekka Himanen’s talk at Zaragoza

Pekka HimanenAlthough this post might a bit off-topic, I believe it might be worth a try. At least, it brings back the blogging spirit I had some years ago, when I posted more often and spontaneously 😉

So, I would like to summarize the lessons I found most interesting from a talk I just attended. It was delivered by Pekka Himanen at the conclusion of the 5th International Committee of Experts, a board created eight years ago by the city of Zaragoza among its efforts to promote knowledge society and become a hub of innovation.

Pekka Himanen, well-known by his best-seller “The hacker ethic” and his publication with Manuel Castell “The Information Society and the Welfare State: The Finnish Model”, is one of the internationally best-known researchers of the information age. He obtained his PhD in Philosophy as the youngest doctor ever in Finland at the age of 20 and was selected as one of the 200 Young Global Leaders in 2005. His talk was centered on the culture of creativity as a driver of economic and social development and here are the four most important lessons I found:

  1. Innovators, businessmen and culture. In order to create a hub of innovation you need three things: creative people, producers/managers (i.e. businessmen and investors) and a culture of creativity. I found particularly interesting the key role of entrepreneurs and businesses to foster innovation, specially in the current context when anything related to business is increasingly demonized (as so was shown by some of the attendants during the later debate).
  2. Athens, the innovation hub of all times. The most successful case of innovation hub in the Western world is in Athens, 2500 years ago. A relatively small group of people (a city-state estimated in 100,000 inhabitants) managed to develop by themselves the foundations of current Western culture, from philosophy to politics, law, science, literature and arts, in a relatively short time. Any small town has the potential of becoming a world-class innovation hub if the three previously mentioned ingredients meet simultaneously. By the way, the population of ancient Athens was 30% foreign. Food for thought!
  3. Innovation hubs happen in physical and reduced environments. Ancient Athens was 2 kms wide, and most of its cultural life happened in the Agora (the Greek forum), a 300×300 meters space. Physical proximity is not only important but necessary if you want to be innovative (heard that, bencer?)
  4. Switch the tragedy-mode off. In a reply to an attendee’s comment filled with bitter critics to politicians and collective self-pityness, Himanen explained the example of the Greek tragedy (yes, plenty of lessons to learn from our Mediterranean neighbors): it all started when the main character believed his fate was inevitably dreadful; after that deep conviction was attained, all his subsequent actions were just steps to meet his unavoidable final destiny. Real life is very similar: if we believe we cannot escape our dreadful fate, our actions will inevitably lead to self-destruction. Complementary to this line of thought, he commented that in nowadays society, there is a trend to outsource our own lives: we base our happiness in those who provide leisure and entertainment and we blame everyone else of our misfortunes, instead of trying to find the sources of our happiness and misfortunes in ourselves.

Pragmatic philosophy for a Tuesday evening…

1 comment July 6th, 2011


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