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.