Monday, December 28, 2009

Events I'll attend during 2010

I write this post while on vacation. I live in the Canary Islands, as you probably know. Although I've been living almost all of my life in Tenerife, the bigger island, I feel La Palma is home. It is a little, still very mountain, island visited by people that loves trekking and adventure sports. It has a National Park, Caldera de Taburiente, the world's biggest active crater. It is an awesome place. Being surrounded by walls of more than a thousand meters tall is something worth seeing, specially in spring, when there is water falling all over.

It's been raining for three days in a row so I've got plenty of time to write...

I'm trying to be updated with some KDE mailing lists where I think I can contribute in the near future: usability, promo, etc. I'm also taking some time to read all mails related with KDE España and participate a little. Organizing the Akademy-es event is our next major task. Some new technicians are joining us lately and we have some people working on the event's organization so we have everything so far to organize a good one.

It is amazing how much information and discussions are around KDE. The KDE SC is becoming great and improving everyday. I feel really comfortable with it and I'm proud to show it every time I have the chance.

This 2010 my plans are attending to FOSDEM, LinuxTag and Akademy. I'm trying also to arrange a visit to GUADEC. I would like to go to Amsterdam during my vacations so I hope I can afford it.

Hopefully this year we will have more Spanish free software companies attending to FOSDEM than ever. We will arrange some meetings there with other free soft. organizations to let them know what we do to figure out how we can collaborate. As I always say, we do great stuff here, but nobody knows it. We need to go out there and show it.

It will be my first time at LinuxTag. I wanted to attend last year but it was too close to GCDS so I couldn't go. This year I will and, since I know people in Berlin, I hope they show me some nice places :-). It'll be my first time in Germany.

Akademy this year take place in Tampere, so again, it'll be my first visit to Finland. I hope I have enough time to visit a couple of places besides Tampere. It has to be a great country...during the summer. I'm not sure about it during winter.

I hope you had a nice Christmas. Ah and...Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Call for host for Akademy-es 2010

KDE España opens the Akademy-es Call for Host until January 22nd for 2010 edition. Proposals are welcome. Further information is available through KDE-España website (in spanish).

I'm writing this post from Barcelona, where Maemo Long Weekend is taking place. I'm in an introductory talk about Gtk right now. There is a familiar mixture of Gtk/Qt folks around here :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Basque Regional Government signs an agreement with software libre SME associations

Yesterday an agreement was signed by the Basque Regional Government, ESLE (Vasque Software Libre companies association) and ASOLIF (Spanish National Federation of soft. libre companies) in order to take steps forward toward software libre migration in Basque Public Administrations. To accomplish this obtective, an Advisor Commitee and a Technical Office will be created with representatives from the three actors involved.

Among other goals, one of the most relevant is to ensure that future public contracts related with software development and hardware puchaisings will be plattform independent so software libre solutions are able to compite under the same conditions than any other software with non libre licenses.

The Technical Office will be in charge of studying and recommending software libre solutions that can be deployed in the Basque Regional Government and other Public Administration from this region.

This is the first time in Spain that a Public Administration sign an agreement with the spanish software libre SME sector, which gives an idea of the maturity that these associations/federation are getting in Spain. Other Regional Governments are also interested in such agreements.

KDE- Edu wants to know your opinion

I have complained many times about bugs or missing features in many applications I use.. What about you?

I like this initiative from KDE-Edu because they are openly asking your opinion about relevant points related with the great applications they develope and support. So if you use any KDE Edu applications please take a few minutes for helping them to improve KHangman, KGeography, KmPlot, Kig, Kalzium, Kstars, etc.

Click here to fill the survey.

Would you like to have a spanish student doing practices in your company?

IES El Ricón is a High School / Technical School from Gran Canaria, Canary Island, Spain, really involved in software libre. They were part of the local team in the GCDS: GUADEC + Akademy 2009. They are involved in a program (ERASMUS) for sending students to foreign countries finish their education working in IT companies during few weeks/monthes.

If you think it could be a good idea to incorporate a young enthusiast student, please contact Miguel Peña ( miguelpl /dot/ inf / at/ gmail / dot/ com ), the teacher in charge of this program, or contact me directly.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October on the road

An idea first...I've never felt so comfortable with my desktop than I am know. Comfortable and proud. 


I left home in Málaga on October 1st. I arrived 29th late in the afternoon. I'm tired but happy about all the things I've done, people I've met, places I've been... I've been visiting several cities all over Spain presenting ASOLIF, where I work, and the things we do, to a lot of people. Madrid, Zaragoza, Vitoria, Canary Islands and Sevilla has been the ones visited this trip.

I've been talking to several ICT managers from several regional and local public administrations, Central Gov., big companies, Universities, etc. I've met people from software libre SME I didn't know before. It is amazing how many cool stuff some SME are doing without much support. I've also attended to events and talk to old friend or people related with ASOLIF (or any of the Spanish regional software libre SME associations).

But my major target has been...

ASOLIF is organizing an internal event so software libre companies belonging to our regional associations can meet each other, know what they are doing, etc. We also have opened a call for projects and mature 10 ideas has been presented. Companies will collaborate on developing those ideas to turn them into projects so ASOLIF can help them to looking for funds. Like any other project ASOLIF promotes, it has to be licensed with GLP or similar licenses and developed openly, like free software communities do. It's going to be hard to put in practice, but if it works...

Although ASOLIF companies use, promote and develop with free software, not all of them make their work libre or are related with communities. For some of them, this event is an opportunity to learn from other companies that do, by working together in something they all are interested in, a project they want to achieve.

For software libre companies, interacting with communities is something that is becoming more common. It is not easy at all to build up your own community based on a product developed by a SME, so ASOLIF is trying to put together companies with experience with other ones interested in becoming more open.  The goal is to raise the percentage of ASOLIF companies that has business models related with making the code libre.

To do so, since we do not have the strength multinational companies have, we have to promote collaboration in a different way. Building up ASOLIF was the first step. This event is a second one.

If we want to have a chance to succeed, we need to be close to free software communities and establish a  strong relation with big companies that support soft. libre technologies. But this relation has to be based in different principles than in the past. In Spain, like in many other countries, we have been software consumers. We now have the chance to produce software and do it well.

Some of the companies attending to ASOLIF event are quiet popular among some communities: Igalia, eBox, Grupo CPD, Emergya, Warp, Grupo Ikusnet, Yerbabuena ... up to 160 aprox. We are working to have 75 companies there (50 would be a nice number anyway).

This event, that will be celebrated each 6 months, is proposed to take place in several places around Spain. We have to break with the idea that business always take place only in big cities.

The following edition (the third one in fact since in 2008 we celebrated the first one), that will take place in spring 2010, will have activities not just for our companies, for for visitors too, with special focus on soft. libre developers.

Let's see how it works...

I don't want to finish without thanking all of you who has support me to become part of KDE e.V. I'm really happy and I hope I can help.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What is that software you have on your laptop?

The last couple of months I've been doing many presentations about different things related with my job. Since I have KDE on my laptop and I usually use slides even in personal conversations (I usually send them to the people I talk to so they remember the basic ideas I explained to them) they see my desktop. For most of them, it is the first time they take a look at KDE. Some of them have never seen a desktop libre before.

So sometimes I feel a little like moving back in time and showing to somebody from other age something common for us (that stupid scene when a cowboy showed a mirror to an indian). It's hard to handle the reaction once in a while. I also feel like having some responsability, so I am becomming worried about the look and feel of my desktop and that everything works (or it looks like) perfectly. Few things that didn't matter to me in the past now...can become an issue. Being able to configure the network (specially the wifi) fast, not having crashing messeges during the booting processs, X configuration when using a projector, speeding up the booting proccess, my laptop should not slow down due to RAM comsumption when opening apps, plasmoid that do not look nice without internet connection... Some of these things have nothing to do with the desktop itself but most of the people don't know it. They will blame it on that "frikie thing you have on your laptop".

I use .pdf presentations made with LaTeX beamer and showed with Okular. It is a nice combination for content oriented talks but not for good looking ones based on images. I have to improve this point. Somehow I want to give the messege that software libre is also about creativity. I'm thinking about creating a new user on my laptop just for these occasions so I can use a cool theme and adding all kind of stuff that looks really cool eventhough sometimes they aren't too useful for me. Do you have any recommendation? I have now Kubuntu 9.04 + KDE 4.3.1.

I believe that it is easier for somebody to make the step forward and try something new in his/her computer if when showing it, your desktop works perfectly and looks nice. This is obvious. The point is that we are the main sellers of what we do and we sell our job everytime we show it. So little errors, misconfigurations or procedures that are ok to us, may not be acceptable for common users without explanation (or even with it). I'm trying to have that in mind lately and I confess that stress me a little sometimes, specially when I have a presentation after updating my laptop.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Social media cuts both ways

This is a post written after reading this post, from FreshNetworks, related with the impact of social media in a company's branding.

Social Media cuts both ways.

1.- Writters has to be aware of the impact of the information they publish.

Most of the regular social media users has no previous experience in marketing or regular media, obviously, so they have no real sense on how powerful published information (so these tools) can be and the harm they can make to a person or a company without even noticing it. We are seeing this in young kids at school. It is so easy to upload a unproper picture, to publish an unfair comment about somebody, destroy a company's reputation ...

Social media tools are used by everybody but not everybody know how to use them. Reacting against wrong behaviours related with their use is not just the Govs responsability. It is also ours.

2.- Companies have to take social networks as a really powerful marketing and feedback tool.

Social media are not just a new channel to make money out of. They also are a good tool for users to show your services weak points, you fealures, etc. So prepare your company (and yourself) to react to users opinions as they deserve. And also take in consideration that they have the ability now to harm you with a little cost you if you ignore them..or even if you don't.

3.- We need to adapt the law to this new reality

Social media are a new way of communicating so countries need to adapt the law to this new reality (without cutting down our rights). And since social media know very little about boundaries, Govs should make an effort to unify as much as possible its criteria related to the the protection of our rights.

Some questions come to my mind:
  • How do we convince a company that risks related with the use of social media do not cancel all the great opportunities related to them?
  • Do we have to?
  • What should a company ( a person or a community) do when its reputation is in danger through twitter, facebook, etc.?
  • How to react when somebody's opinion is unffair?
  • And what about when you agree on somebody's complains, you want to repair the error but the complains published in a social network has already a huge impact, so the cost of that misbehavior is insignificant compared to the harm done by the customer/blogger/user?
  • What if the social media user is not even your customer and have no real idea about your service?

More and more companies are getting concerned about the impact of social media for their reputation. Many of them may become afraid to use them if they are not "more controlled", so they will try to.

And we know well that fear is freedom's major enemy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Social networks... a new challenge and a new risk for software libre projects

More and more people is now using KDE 4, and specially non technical people. Since KDE4 is improving fast but do not have yet all the features and apps that KDE 3.5 did, it is easy to think that old KDE users will have many requests or questions the following monthes. Since the usability of KDE4 is new in many ways, there will be many users also asking for help.

I have a feeling that lately more and more people is complaining/making questions in about features or non key points that they miss, don't like or, simply don't work as they expected.

The commitment of every KDE developer to answer as many questions or comments as they can is out of doubt, but this question-answer approach do not scale, since these tools do not work as chats, forums or mailing lists (the major tools we have used in the past for support purposes). They do not have a single entrance from where to route them to the right information or person. They need a new language, different procedures, different interfaces, different tools (social desktops ;) )....

I'm not sure the policies we had in the past for supporting users are going to be as efficient as they were. Probably a different strategy to handle all these requests and complains is needed for these social tools. From my point of view is becomming something to be worry about since the impact of so many people making requests or complaining about different issues are becomming significant and it can turn into relevant.

Software libre projects have a nice chance to change the way they interact with users. Social networks force people to become concise. We can use that. But they are also great tools for expressing feelings worldwide... and that is a huge risk if they get frustrated with our software.

How do we route requests and complains through social network tools? How do we track and proccess what they want, what they need? How do we make ourselves visible so they know where/who to ask? How are we going to coordinate efforts through these tools? How do we adapt other tools we use (wiki, bug tracker, mailing lists, chat) to this new scenario? How do we include social network tools into our support and maintenance strategy? Or their impact will be so big that those classic strategies won't work anymore?

Maybe we have to assume some risks and, once more, innovate....maybe this is nothing to worry about...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

GCDS Conclusions II.

What has been the impact of the event worldwide?

This question has different answers. I'm going to concentrate today on the GCDS website.

We presented the project to the Call for Host on a public wiki. Usually both boards recieved a .pdf archive. Since the decision to go for one particular location was made by both communities, we though it was really important that most of them has as many information as possible. We added to that wiki information about hotels, the location and many other stuff we worked on during a couple of months to present the best project we could. It was a good decision, I guess. It also reflects clearly what was our compromise then and what we accomplished so everybody can analice it. Some things we said were were going to do weren't done. I'll talk about then in future posts.

Once the project was running, a key thing happened, in my opinion. Both boards agreed on a cool name, Desktop Summit (easy but reflects what was going to happen during those days) and added Gran Canaria in front of it. GNOME and KDE supported our job by letting their brands in a secondary level. Tough decision that had a nice impact locally and openned some doors to the local team. We used it many times to take advantage locally to the support that KDE and GNOME were giving us.

By doing this, we ensured a big impact for Gran Canaria in internet. This island live out of tourism that comes from european countries. Internet is the new channel for this bussiness and this event has a worldwide impact. Most of the free software devs are young people that might want to came back again. This event was a long one and people blog about it a lot, so it is a perfect product to put money on for a touristic place like the Canary Islands.

Of course for the free soft. companies behind the organization this wasn't the objetive but it was a major one for some local public administrations. Adding Gran Canaria to the event's name was a major task because it ensured that the impact in internet the event was going to have was linked to the island. That was our thought then. The result of this strategy is clear. Just look for Gran Canaria in Google in english. The event made the first page (two entries: 4 and 8 right after the event. Now it remains one of them).

This success works both ways. In the following years this should be use by other local teams to get local public administrations involved in the event. How much money do they pay in promotion campaings? Hitting the first page in Google for any localization has a big cost... and we did it.

The election of the tool for the web generated a big disscussion internally. Most of the companies involved in the organization are ruby experts. GNOME didn't have a mature solution and KDE had a registration module made with drupal that they did use in two previous events. This solution didn't have a feature for the event program and speakers. There was a Rails program that did. Finally, with the agreement of Banot (a local company part of the organization) and the Free Software Office of La Laguna University (OSL of ULL), we end up going for the Drupal solution. Both, Banot and the OSL of the ULL did a great job with the web. They updated the previous job done from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 (that was sometimes difficult) and added some new features to the registration module to adapt it to some new requirements for this unusual event.

The website team also integrated the new registration module with Mediawiki, so we could overpass a drupal limitation. It didn't have a wiki that feed our requirements. There are some points that need more improvements but, if other local teams use the job done maybe in a couple of yeras KDE and GNOME can have a well adapted solution. Anyway, each year a nice look to other solutions has to be done, since there are lots of nice projects out there.

<= July hits

The web design was made by GNOME community members and implemented on the website by the local team. All the job done is available for future events through a git.

Defining and publishing the program and the speakers information, done by GNOME, KDE and some local members, was hard. Tons of subevents and talks took place so we had some coordination problems, solved finally. Thanks to every people that helped, specially, Cristo, from Fotón SI, Grupo CPD, for coordinating a great team. The website team also had a key role during the event. I will talk about it in future posts.

<= June 2009

So all this job and a lot more I haven't talk about (getting sponsors on the web, making the sponsorship brochure, etc) made the following numbers possible. Of course the most important part is the community people from GNOME and KDE that visited the web and gave us tons of suggestions. Thanks all.

The web has 5.182 million hits. In July it registered 1.8 millionn hits. What has surprised me the most is the 0.324 million hits from august, due to blogging probably.

August =>
The analysis of the countries wehere the hits come from give us an idea of how spread GNOME and KDE are worldwide. June, the month before the event, is the reference one. August is a singular one and July, the month of the event, is probably determined by the visits done by the atendees and the local press coverage, which was really good. Probably many of the foreign hit comes from blogging right after the event.


To evaluate the impact, you have to have this in mind:
  • KDE had information about the event in his own Akademy web, not much but those hits should be counted. GNOME also put on his wiki the BoF's sessions information during the event.
  • The impact on media that the event has haven't been measured. For example, in the major local newspaper, a press note about the event on december 2008 was the third most read news that day.
  • Pictures related with the event were placed in free services all over internet, not in the official website. There are thousands of pictures.
  • Due to banthwith and space restrictions, it happened the same with videos and slices related with the events. These two contents means lots of hits, as pictures.
  • Mediawiki hits are not counted. That would add several thousands in June/July.
  • The Cabildo of Gran Canaria (the island Gov.) webpage experimented a growth on the hits registered the days before and during the event.
  • Many local organizers added to their webs info about the event, along with many other companies and atendees, and got many hits, specially both Canary Islands colleges.
  • Both GNOME and KDE (and other projects like MAEMO, Freedesktop, GNOME Hispano ) planets has registered many hits related with GCDS posts.
  • Sponsors webpages hits comming from the GCDS webpage haven't been measured. This would be really cool to evaluate the commercial return for them.
As you can see, eventhough there were nobody dedicated to this particular issue because it was not the purpose of the event, the impact is huge...not bad for a bunch of developers, right? ;)

There are tons of things that could be done to increase this number. This is something to disscuss for following events. These numbers give a lot of credit to the idea of co-hosting the event that both boards had, I think. Next time it'll take place a joint event the mark will probably be broken by far. It will be a good sign.

All numbers and graphs has been taken from the official Gran Canaria Desktop Sunnit: GUADEC + Akademy 2009 website. Webalizer was the tool chosen.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

GCDS Conclusions I

I've taken some time to write down about the event. This is the first post of a serie about the event I pretend to write. It is a personal view, although I know many of these ideas are shared by other local team members, since we have disscussed them before.

I would like to begin thanking GNOME and KDE communities for the recognition done to the local team during the GNOME assembly and the Akademy closure. It was something unexpected and appreciated by all of us. You made us feel really proud and it gave us a lot of good energy to keep pushing the rest of the event. You have gained a whole bunch of new fans in the Canary Islands.

I'm goping to focus now in some aspects not known by most attendees.

One of the key points of our Call fo Host project was the Local Program in spanish. It was divided in two parts: talks and workshops. The topics were not related with free desktops but with general aspects of free software and other tools. Although it was important it wasn't a critical activity for the event initially. I have to say though that both boards gave it a lot of relevance to it throught he organization process and we always felt really supported by them in this particular aspect. This is something we didn't expected either.

At some point a few weeks before the event we had to face an unexpected change of location. We had to redo the task list and many of them had to get lower relevance. The local program was one of them. We had to face other critical problems first.

Despite of this, nine workshops took place (3-4 hours each) and close to 80 people attended (117 in total but some went to more than one). The workshops where announced several days before the event but you couldn't register on any until the registration day (the very first day). We did this to avoid people that weren't involved in the event from attending.

The talks were also a great success. Some of them reached 50 attendees. The average was between 20 and 30. We had about 20 talks so the total number is a good one. Most of the people interested in the local program were students that are getting into free software but we had also some technicians from local private companies and from public administrations. Most of the talks were given by spanish companies or well recognized free software developers from the Canary Islands.

Rodrigo Trujillo, the Director of the Free Software Office of La Laguna University (Tenerife college) was the Local Program coordinator. He did a great job.

But the local impact goes further. The local team made turns so local people could attend to some of the activities during the event. It was really popular among us the several conversations that took place in the press room the first weekend among key participants, the crossdesktop track and, of course, the keynotes, as expected.

Some of the local team members are experienced technicians, but for half of them (or even more), it was the very first time they participated in a community event. Geting involved with GNOME and KDE volunteers was also appreciated. Many of us have learnt many things from them, they helped us a lot and we got along really well. The general atmosphere in the local team was really good during the event, despite the normal pressure.

Four presidents of Spanish regional free software companies associations attended to the event. One of them is the President of the Spanish national federation of free software companies association, ASOLIF. About 8 local free software companies were involved and several more participated in the local program or other activities. This can give you an idea of the relevance of the event for the spanish free software companies. Igalia, an ASOLIF member, was one of the main sponsors and some representatives from spanish public administrations also attended.

The asociation of Canary Islands free soft companies, ESLIC, ASOLIF and La Laguna University, signed a long term collaboration contract during the event, to make projects together. This is the first time this happens at a national level in Spain, and it took place during the event. In Spain, one of the weak points of the education system is that colleges do not collaborate much with private companies, since they get most of theis funds from other public administrations. We want to open a door to change this by using free software and involving development communities. Let's see how the experience goes.

ASOLIF gave a press conference that had a big impact in national press during the event. Another nice press conference took place with both Canary Island colleges, GNOME Hispano and KDE España Presidents. Local media also covereged it. It was the first time the Presidents from both spanish communities did such a thing together. And both Canary Islands colleges were there not just as witnesses but as real actors, one as free software promoter (La Laguna University) and the other one as main organizer (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University).

I feel the event has been really important for GULIC, the Canary Islands LUG (one of the oldest in Spain). Many of its members lived again during those days the spirit involved in its foundation (aaaahhh... the old days). It was really cool to see "old guys" working together with local young kids. They celebrated an assembly during the event and they voted a new board with the total support of the group. Nice news for the free soft. movement in the Canary Islands.

In the Canary Islands, as in many other places in the world, there is a big rivalry between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, the two main islands. They claim to be the first on everything. Having both colleges from both islands active collaborating is something we've never imagine it would happened when we designed the event. It came to a point where technicians from both colleges were working together to set the network and the computer labs. The Software Libre Office from La Laguna University sent all the technicians they have (six) to help the technicians from the Free software Office and the system administrators from the ULPGC college.

The Cabildo of Lanzarote, another Canary Island, payed the trip and expenses (thanks Kuko Armas, from Canarytek - Grupo CPD for managing this) of five students in computer science to help us during the event. Along with the rest of the local team, we were capable to have everything ready in ULPGC college in just one week. They were definetly inspired by the event spirit. The messege was clear, if GNOME and KDE can do it, why don't we? So we did and is one of those thing we will be able to tell our grandsons.

José Miguel Santos, the IT chief of ULPGC (Gran Canaria University), has been a key person in general and in this point in particular. I hope this marks the beginning of something that break rules in the Canary Islands. It is also a strong messege to other colleges in Spain. They are meant to collaborate with each other much more than they do now.

But above all these results and some more I will tell in following posts, young local developers got new messeges they sometimes hear but never before experienced. They know now that developing software can be exciting, that they are capable to do it, GNOME and KDE are willing to accept them and real innovation is not a dream for them anymore. It is a reachable goal if you work hard, not because we tell them but because they have seen it, and lived it.

Above 60 people formed the local team during the event (plus GNOME and KDE volunteers, college workers, auditorium and music palace workers, etc). It has been an unforgetable experience for all of us.

Somebody asked me during the event:
  • If you could go back, would you do it again? Absolutely.

It is the general feeling of the local team.

A community event like the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit is the most powerful marketing tool the free software movement have, even more than the product coded itself. I think we still have to learn how to use it more efficiently but it is something that can make a difference if it is done in a compatible way with the traditional goals.

Nothing to attract good customers like showing the kitchen and the chef cooking.

Bringing young developers, even if they are not contributors yet, college students, small free software companies and public administrations representatives to GUADEC and Akademy can feed GNOME and KDE like no other single action. Both communities are mature enough to make steps forward in this direction without losing the esence of what these events are. We have tried to prove it is possible. Of course this was nothing more than a small experiment, but a succesful one, in my opinion, despite all the difficulties we have faced.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nothing in particular...

I'm sitting in the backyard of my grandfather house, in a little village, by the mountains, in Segovia, Spain. It is called Matabuena. Here it is usually cold except in July and August. Just a few families live here in winter but the place gets alive during summertime, like many little towns all over the world.

There are cows and horses all over the place, kids with bicycles, old people taking long walks and a bar, where old men play cards during the afternoons. It is a totally different place from the Canary Islands or Malaga. I used to come here when I was a kid and it was really cool. It is only 90 minutes away from Madrid, so I guess I will visit this place more often if I finally move to Madrid next year.

I spent a month in Gran Canaria, three weeks to prepare the GCDS and the week of the event, of course. A couple of days after the closure, I went to Tenerife, spent a couple of days with my parents and then I went to La Palma, a little paradise I strongly recommend. La Palma is the place I call home. After a week there, I went back to Tenerife invited to an event. A day after I went to Málaga, spent a week there and began a long trip around Spain.

Madrid, Matabuena, Madrid again, Segovia, Valladolid, Vitoria, Bilbao, Matabuena, Madrid and finally Málaga (tomorrow). A little more than 2500 kms done by car.

Despite the hardworking, I've had some time to do cool things, meeting new and old friends, living some new experiences and spending some time with my family.

It looks like the rest of August I will have time to slow down and finishing some undone tasks, plus preparing the rest of the year's agenda. There are tons of things going on around ASOLIF this year but also we have to focus on closing some open tasks. I guess this one of the hardest thing to do when a new project involving a lot of people begins. You have to make sure some basic taks get done. There is a strong inertia of keep moving, continuosly starting new things, moving forward without closing previous work.

Meanwhile I have updated my laptop from XFCE/KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.2. As expected, some issues has arised, but in general, most of the everyday actions works quiet well. I still haven't had time to push the desktop further. Hopefully these following weeks I will. I'll write a post with my conclusions. Another thing I will do is installing GNOME and use it for specific tasks. I haven't use it for almost a year and I want to experience the improvements.

Another regional free software companies association has been created in Spain with our help. It's called CyLESoL, from Castilla y León. We are working to create one or two more before the end of this year. The plan is to reach 200 free software companies associated to the Federation ASOLIF by the end of the year, that means doubling the number we had by the end of 2008.

Spain is well known because of free software projects related with education. Almost every region in Spain is already deploying, developing or planning to put linux in schools. But lately two different areas are becomming really popular here: 3D and SIG. There is a lot of good energy and bussiness perspectives around these areas.

ASOLIF President is flying this week to Mexico and another member of our board will fly to Republica Dominicana soon. It is the second time that representatives from ASOLIF go to South America. Both of them have been invited to promote companies associations in Latin America and to do some networking.

Latin Amrica have awesome free software projects and developers. We have to figure out how to mix that potencial with our Federation by builing a simbiotic relation, treating each other as equals. We go there with a speech that is far away from usual. We are really excited about the idea of building up trasparent bridges across the Atlantic Sea between small free software companies from both sides. We have a lot to learn from each other. Of course this will take some time, but we are on it.

ASOLIF will celebrate an internal event on Novermer where companies will join to define and write down projects that we will try to acomplish during 2010. It is the first time we do such a thing but people is excited about the idea of meeting each other and seatting around a table to work on free software projects. I hope one or two of them deals with desktops and mobile technologies. I've been working on the event's methodology and it will be finished by the first week of september. It can be a nice experience to export. Let's see. It will be my major task for the following weeks.

Enough for today, right?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How do your company do it?

Many of the ASOLIF companies have different ways of distributing the workday. Others simply do not have any way at all. Another group has a 8 to 5 schedule.

Reading Jorge's blog, from Warp Tech (a well known ASOLIF company from Zaragoza) planet (in spanish), I come out with a nice distribution that solves some of the problems some company face everyday. They call it Flextime. The model is far from perfect and it probably do not work for everybody, but is serves me to ask...

¿What about your company? ¿How do you manage the schedule, the workday?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Interactions between soft. libre communities and small free soft. companies

Free software communities are becoming more and more efficient in tasks not directly related with code or self organization. They are evolving into totally new organisms without predecessor. Companies are aware of that and they are getting closer and closer to them. Right now the free software impact cannot be described without the interactions between companies and communities. Sometimes the influence of corporations in some communities is notorious but sometime it is happening the opposite. Mature communities do have a lot of impact in many companies.

Big companies have built strategies to take advantages of this new wave hoping to reach points they haven't been before, trying to get where they used to or simple hoping to stay on top. Every big structure has a lot of resistance for changing and its amazing how many big IT companies looks like they have changed.

An evident question arise, have they really changed?

Back in early 2003 I had a small company. I was surrounded by many free software fans but I wasn't. I had a hard time in college with linux. In fact, I was the main obstacle in my company for evolving to adopt free software principles. We had Red Hat by that time in one of computer labs but it was just due to lack of resources. I still remember some friends of mine telling me how fool I was for using Windows on my loptop.

And then LTSP came into my life ...

My personal evolution toward the basic principles of free software is far from finished. Until a few months ago, I still had a small company so it is easy to figure that its evolution has gone parallel to my personal one. I've been really lucky to be surrounded by smart believers for a long time and that has allowed me to speed up this personal change and, in consequence, my way of doing business.

In my current position, as ASOLIF manager, the federation of free software companies associations, I see the same process in many other companies. Some of them are in early stages of its own evolution, some are mature, some are beginning to question their own methods and the luckiest ones were formed with a clear idea of how to do business in an open way, using free software and interacting with the communities. This last group are the ones that has made ASOLIF possible. They in the front line right now.

Looking back, I realice how hard is changing the behavior of any company. In small companies the influence of their owners is very significant so, like it happened to me, since it takes time to cross the river and reach the other side for any person, it is obvious that it will happen the same to the company itself. It is not like Neo taking the red pill.

Then, how come we see such a strong change in many big IT companies in such a short period? Is it possible or they are just faking? Is it more like a Roman ship with galleys? Is it a marketing policy or their process is fast because it is a matter of surviving? Do they truly believe on the principles of free software or still want to generate gregarious relations with others? Is it possible for them to change the inertia and people's mind so fast?

My new job is putting me in contact with some spanish big IT companies representatives. They have the common lessons well learned, a solid free software speech and the classic unbeatable marketing manners. They know they have a winner combination. They are the face of those companies and it seems they truly believe, understand and support the principles behind free software.

But, what about the heart of those companies? Does it matter for doing business? at the very end of this process, is the actual status quo going to change? How can we change the role of small companies in the future from being just resellers to truly generate technology?

Maybe one of the answers has something to do with the title.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some reflections about ASOLIF

Facing the end of the second month on my new job, things move slow but forward, as always happens with new projects.

I've been working hard to open communication channels between companies. Interaction is more usual at a technical level than at a manegement level in every free soft. company and we are no exception. We know how to interact in a lower level. We've learned it by collaborating in free software communities, but at higher levels....that's another story.

The good point is that most of the managers and owners of ASOLIF companies come from the technical world. In fact, most of them begun as free software developers. They want to interact as managers as they did as technicians.

So how can we achieve this goal when not all of the information a company handles can be public, can be shared? How does cooperation is possible when you compete everyday?

Big companies can organice themselves in departments with different procedures, so they can interact with different profiles at different levels. Small companies cannot. For individuals is hard to be transparent for just certain activities and not for others. In ASOLIF have to deal with that duplicity.

The little time they have for ASOLIF activities is invested with big dosis of enthusiasm. Managers love what they do. I feel that good energy. Not so long ago I was like one of them so it is a well known situation for me. Bringing them a space where the can share all that good energy eventhough they live in different places is a really cool goal. It can make a difference for them, for ASOLIF and for our workers (I don't like this word), our customer.

ASOLIF board knows pretty much about how free soft. communities (FSC) work and they want to take that transparent way of doing things into this (we hope it'll become soon) community of small free soft. companies (a little more than 150 so far). This is a major objetive. We are just on the first step of the journey. I feel like the Santa María helmsman, sailing west.

Companies have different motivations and responsabilities than individuals so not everything that works for FSC will work for us. We have one thing in common though: I'm surrounded by hackers, economic system hackers. As tech hackers are doing since long time ago, they want to hack the system...but at a different level. Economic relations in our sector do not have to be gregarious. We want to turn them into mutualism.

This job is going to be fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gran Canaria Desktop Summit: Akademy-es Call for Participation

The Gran Canaria Desktop Summit will celebrate, along with GUADEC and Akademy, the spanish annual conferences of both communities: GAUDEC-es and Akademy-es. KDE-España, has made public the Akdemy-es Call for Participation. This event will take place on friday July 10th and saturday July 11th. GUADEC-es still do not have dates yet but they will probably next week.

276 people have already registered on the event and we have more than 1.8 million hits on the web. We expect to have a big encrease during the following month so, if you want a cheap accomodation, I recomend you to register as soon as you can.

Remember that Call for Participation for the official programe is open so send your paper and participate in this awesome opportunity.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASOLIF: my new job

This is my first post about my new job. It's been a little bit more than a year since I came to Malaga from the Canary Islands. During this time I been involving in two different migration projects (Municipalities from Axarquía of Málaga and Extremadura Regional Gov.), worked back again with Grupo CPD in ModularIT and, since march 1st, I've became manager of ASOLIF. I've closing down my little company back in the canaries so, in a couple of weeks, my only employer will be the federation of Spanish free software companies associations (ASOLIF). This is the first time I'll be working for somebody else. Since I was 23 I've always been self employed.

It is strange because I keep in contact with my ex teammates since we are all working on the GCDS'09 and also they are really involved in the Canary Islands free software companies association (ESLIC), the oldest one in Spain, which I helped to found and is one of ASOLIF founders. Since I'll be in Malaga a couple more months before moving (it loooks like I'll be living in Madrid), it is somehow like I haven't changed my job. It feels more closer to a project change rather than a job switch. I assume this feeling will be changing hard in a few more weeks.

ASOLIF is composed by 8 free software companies associations from different regions of Spain. I'm working on updating the exact number of companies involved but I guess we are about 200. Most of them are small (up to 5 members). ASOLIF is one year old and we are growing fast. From 5 associations we plan to end up this year being 10, which is a nice grow. There are many small free software companies all over Spain that can be under our umbrella soon, since all the regional associations are growing and new ones are forming. It looks like we can become a strong movement in Spain in a couple of years.

The economic crash is giving a lot of attention to technological companies. We are no exception. Outside of Spain people thinks that the biggest business related with software libre in this country are Public Administrations, but that is not true. What is happening is that there is a strong movement among them toward Soft. libre and, since in Spain they are the biggest customer of the software sector, this is changing big companies' mind. The message is clear: if you want to keep being leaders, you have to move toward free software. This is good news but there are some concerns.

These big companies do not believe in free software, they do not collaborate, the just use it. They are not changing their methodology and do not participate in general in any community at all. They just keep doing what they use to but now with free software.

Opposite to this, there is a growing movement of small companies mostly build up by technicians with a tremendous innovation factor that works with the tools and procedures close to what communities uses. They are efficient. They do not need (many of them do not want) to grow a lot, since it is not mandatory to grow for surviving is you innovate everyday. Their number is increasing fast so local support is becoming a truth in many parts of Spain.

But they are still fragile and lack of many basic skills that are necessary in any business. Since they are formed by smart guys, they know it. At least most of the ones I talk to realize many of these weak points. For a small, technical oriented service company, it is hard to invest money/time in non core but still important tasks. Their natural respond is to associate themselves with other software libre companies they can collaborate with. The nice point is that they already bring a collaboration culture with them that flows in every activity, every meeting we make, etc.

So the Federation has, of course, a common lobby motivation, but also a parallel one: to collaborate as companies as we usually do as technicians, as community members. This second objective is the reason why I'm here, since the lobby activity will lay more on the board members, specially ASOLIF President, Daniel Armendáriz.

We are still new so many basic stuff must be done, like administrative tasks, setting up some collaborative tools, open relations with many social agents, promote some internal procedures to increase collaboration among companies, etc. These kind of projects needs time become solid but when I finish my job (I have a one year contract) I hope there is a strong base to face the future with an optimistic vision.

Since ASOLIF is part of the local organization of the GCDS'09, I'll keep working on it. The local team is working hard and everybody have a nice feeling about the event. We truly believe this event can be different from any previous one. If the experience is good, probably more community projects will visualize as natural to celebrate together these kind of events where they can keep independence but share activities, experiences, time, projects, problems, code, etc. It also makes sense from a management and economic point of view. Many of the ASOLIF companies will be attending so it will be a nice opportunity to interact with developers and companies from other countries, besides attending to many desktop related activities.

One of the things I don't know how to do but I want to invest time on is to open relations between small companies or organizations like ASOLIF and community projects. Maybe bringing college students into free software communities can be a first approach. Now in Spain the college education model is switching to the Bolonia plan and one of the objectives is making the relation between universities and companies closer. Since now students have to spend some time making practices on companies, small companies can get more involved in software libre communities by interacting with them through these college students. This can be a win to win to win (jajajaja) relation... We need to find out a good model for that. Maybe it is a good point of discussion for the GCDS'09 event. If it works here, it can be translated to other countries. There are two experiences already we can learn from, the GSoC and the University Software Libre Championship (in Spain).

This is anoher nice challenge I hope I can learn a lot from, meeting new people, going to new places, facing new risks. Innovation...that's is what it is all about.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Registration and Call for Participants open for the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit

One big milestone is over. Finally registration is open along with the Call for Participation.

Please visit the new web:

The look and feel is not over yet but both boards didn't want to wait for it. It was the right decision. As it always happens, maybe some misunderstandings or little improvements can be done. Please register on the event mailing list:

and tell us about them. Some new features are planned and in a few weeks will be available. There is a travel agency that will take care or booking accomodation. I strongly recommend you to use it. They have got in charge of big events before so they will solve whatever problem you can have much better than the local community guys. Read carefully the information about the payment process:

We are aware that many people will bring their families with them. Hotels will charge them the same prices as attendees. There are several apartments and hotels available but I recommend you not to wait too long to book for your room. You will be able to stay in Las Palmas from 20 € per night up to 150 €. You can also ask the travel agency to book your fight if you wish. For groups this is a highly recommendable service. Some extra activities will be available as soon as we close them.

During the first 24 hours, about 60 people have already registered, which is pretty cool. We had 1.4 million hits on the web before opening the registration and we want to reach 5 million. The information related with sponsorhip is also available, including the sponsorship brochure:

I'm exited about the final schedule of the event. It looks like we can have a very attractive programe, not just in english, but also in spanish, since Akademy-es and GUADEC-es will also take place during those days. Check the official schedule:

There is an IRC channel: #gcds at freenode for inmediate questions and a twitter account for following announcements:

Hopefully one of the difference with previous events is that we plan to have a nice number of local people attending to it, young students that wants to get involved. We will organice some basic talks for them and also some courses so we can add local developers to both, GNOME and KDE, which would be a great success. there is no turning back....we are heading to Gran Canaria desktop Summit.. it is not so far away, just 108 days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some reflections related with the KDE 4.2 release

Please take this as a reflection. When you try to express delicate messages, feelings, the language barrier becomes bigger. I felt it was the time to say this, now that I feel the arrival is so close that I'm sure all the KDE crew feel the power of the big release, so hopefully people get the positive part of the message I want to point out.

I'm not a KDE developer but definitely a KDE user. I have KDE 3.5 on my everyday laptop and KDE 4.0 first and KDE 4.1 now on other machines I have around (my netbook, for example). I've been one of those that have been following the project in general and the tough decision made by the KDE crew a couple of years ago (and the previous discussions). I am not at first line obviously, but hey, that is also a cool stuff about free software community projects, you can watch and learn from the core people... I really respect what the KDE project does. There is no doubt about it.

I understood the decisions made then. I supported and got happy with it. I obviously am now. As a dev told me once, it's like life itself. Sometimes you reach a limit and it is a smart decision to stop, think and change instead of keep pushing on the same direction. This is an idea some other free software projects will follow after KDE success (we knew it from the very beginning ;) ).

Now that KDE 4.2 is here, many of you that have been working hard to make this happen have reasons to be proud of the job done and the risk taken. I am, and haven't done a single line of code. I've never imagined to get such an empathy with a few million lines of codes and the people that create it everyday.

The Linus case has made me decide to write about what I've seen around me the last few months. I've read many comments about it and the explanations given from many tech people in general and KDE people in particular. I want to add my personal experience.

I've seen some frustration around, related with KDE 4.0 and 4.1 lately. The regular free software user is one of those who likes to try what it comes in a magazine, in a distro. They wait for the next version like Christmas. In some sense, they (we) are like kids (love to play with toys). But most of them (that is part of our success), have no idea about how to deal with critical problems. I've been explaining to them so many times the past months that kde 4.0 and 4.1 were not an everyday OS...well, the regular arguments you already know... . But this installation...uninstallation process some people have gone through with previous versions has been unstopable (the people around me at least).

So I've failed. Why?

I don't know yet, but what I know now is that I cannot compete anymore against distros, magazines, that cool aura free software has these days, etc.. That is supposed to be one of our victories. This is not a "mouth to mouth" system anymore (I mean installations based on personal trust). My friends don't call me to try a linux distro. They don't need me for that anymore (thanks God). They just call me when they have critical problems. Since they know I'm a KDE fan, they have called me quiet frequently the past months.

KDE has built a reputation through the past years that have not finished drastically the past few months. Some of the lost credit will be soon recovered with today's release...but not all. We (I insist in including myself) will have to put an extra amount of energy for a longer time. Some people maybe won't want to try KDE 4.2. We should be prepare for that. Probably Linus won't. He has a new toy and it make sense to think he will give it a try for some time. That is a well known marketing law.

Once again, I totally assume and support the decision made to build a totally new system and I understand the decision taken about the KDE 4.0 release. I've been supporting it. But now that I have faced the consequence, my hope is that this kde 4.2 great release, all the happiness and the attention that the developers and the project itself deserve (and will have, I'm sure), will be followed by a general reflexion about how to deal in the future with decisions like this one. The KDE 4.0 release have shadows, do not have a single point of failure so it won't have a single solution. It also have shown many good points, of course. I just want to point out that despite all the coming success, experience tells me we were not totally right.

I hope that all the good energy we have around this (and future) release don't avoid the discussion to get to some conclusions future devs, deployers and user can learn from. If we do this, we probably will get even more credit in the long term than we will the following months. KDE 4.0 was necessary but has had consequences we must face and learn from.

Today is a good day. KDE 4.2 is out and I'm really happy since I've been waiting for it so bad ... Congratulations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gran Canaria Desktop Summit keep going

Last Monday 15th, Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th of December several GNOME and KDE boards members were in Gran Canaria to prepare the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit: GUADEC + Akademy 2009. This is not great news only from the organisation of the event point of view, but also because it is a working meeting between two relevant community projects with huge impact worldwide. We will have another meeting during FOSDEM. When I think about this, I realise that events like the GCDS'09 should happen once in a while between different free software projects in order to open new and different ways of collaboration. Many community have great relations with IT companies so improving relation between them will also improve the relation between these companies, which is something positive.

We are used to collaboration between developers but this event can be seen as the first big step toward a more global relation between projects. A new step forward in the software libre path to world domination :)

Just stop and think about the companies involved in GNOME and KDE, the technologies used, the number of users, not just right now but also during the following years, that will be affected or influenced by discussions and decisions taken during that week in Gran Canaria, it is amazing, isn't it?

This event can be a good chance for distros to really raise their voice and discuss with both projects about a variety of hot stuff that affect them. Desktop developers need to hear the opinions from the people that deploy and give support to companies and users. The opposite is also a must. But also it is a chance for them to talk to each other and join efforts or simply discuss about whatever they want to. Translators, artists, usability experts, app developers, etc. will have their space too. Opening new collaboration links with the other desktop project and with distros, IT companies, etc. can also be done during the event.

It looks like some nice cross-project discussions will take place, in addition of what GUADEC and Akademy already are. But, if the people that comes to Gran Canaria wants to, the event can be a lot more. Of course that means to work in advance and to make an additional effort during those days in July, but maybe it is worth it. This is a big opportunity, that's for sure. I feel both boards perfectly understand this. The local team definitely do. But we are only a small part. You, reader, should be the front man.

We understand that, for many developers, coming to Gran Canaria in July is an unfordable effort because of economic reasons. We are looking for cheap places to stay or eat and, of course, both projects will sponsor trips and hotels like they've done in the past. For those who have family, let me tell you that we are organising a parallel track so they can come and enjoy while daddy or mum, boyfriend or girlfriend, is attending to the event. This has been a demand from many of you and we are taking care of it. Also those who are vegetarians will have special menus.

If you don't like nice weather and the beach... well, probably you will suffer a little, but hey, you still can sit and watch your friends' white bodies and laugh at them while having a beer and doing some hacking... Is up to you.

Remember to buy tickets as soon as possible. By the way, we have a twitter account:

Friday, January 16, 2009

GCDS'09 news

Both boards (GNOME and KDE) along with the local team keep working on the organization of the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit:GUADEC + Akademy 2009. After the visit of representatives from both staffs to Gran Canaria, last december, we will celebrate another meeting during FOSDEM. In a few weeks an open mailing list and a community tool (a wiki or something like that) will be configurated so people can help us to make something special out of this event.

The local team has a strong recommendation: buy the tickets as soon as possible. A parallel program for families will be offered so don't be afraid of bringing them with you (little kids included).

Stay tuned for news and recommendations through the website of the event or by reading the twitter account we have for minor announces: gcds_2009.

Please, spread this recommendation.