Libre Application Summit 2016

I had a great time at the Libre Application Summit in sunny, hipster moustachioed Portland – many thanks to Sri for inviting me. Sorry this blog post is a bit late, but things have been really busy with the Fedora 25 Beta release (which we signed off on today).

For a first year conference without a crazy marketing budget or anything, attendance was great – it was a good size for the venue, the number of sessions, and the social events, things felt busy and there was a lot of people-getting-to-know-each-other going on. Sri, Adelia and friends did a great job of finding a good venue and getting a solid wifi network, providing food and coffee, and setting up some fun social events.

They also did a great job getting some really interesting talks from both high-profile and regular-profile folks 🙂

Matthew Garrett gave one of his usual thought provoking talks about the relationship between security and privacy, and the possibility of using the concept of ‘safety’ to make sure we consider both appropriately when designing software, especially software which gathers ‘user data’ in any way.

Bradley Kuhn led a BoF on licensing which rapidly sprawled out to cover all kinds of topics; it might not have been the most directly productive session ever but we covered a lot of ground and had a good time, and it’s always great to pick Bradley’s brain on stuff.

Asheesh Laroia led a couple of sessions on the super-interesting Sandstorm project he works on, which is…well it’s almost like a Flatpak or a Snappy but for webapps, I thought it was a great idea to have him at the conference as Sandstorm makes an interesting contrast to the desktop application sandboxing stuff that’s hot right now.

Jim Hall and Ciarrai Cunneen gave a great talk on the GNOME usability testing that’s been going on recently under the banner of the Outreachy project; it was awesome to hear both how GNOME’s been going about usability testing and how Outreachy is achieving really useful results. The results clearly already highlighted some opportunities to improve and I was impressed with the way they were analyzing where the testing process could be improved and planning how to do an even better job with the next round.

There were a couple of sessions from Endless folks, including Matt Dalio, which were also a great window into exactly where Endless is going these days; I’ve always been kinda roughly aware of them without knowing exactly what they were doing, so this was good stuff. In a lot of ways they seem like they’re hoeing the same row as OLPC did in its heyday, but maybe with a little more focus and a bit more of a commercial mindset. It’s always good value for money to have someone stand up in front of a room full of people used to always-on, uncapped, 50+Mb/sec internet connections and ask them to think about how well their stuff works when you have a modem-speed connection that’s maybe accessible for a couple of hours at a time…

There were lots of other good sessions, a GNOME release party, and of course the hallway track was in full effect; it was great to see Bryan and Matthias and a bunch of other folks, and good to meet lots of new people too.

I did a slightly condensed and probably somewhat garbled version of the openQA presentation I gave with Richard Brown at LFNW this year, and talked to several folks about how openQA could possibly be useful in testing; Sri and Richard and I agreed that we could try and set up openQA testing of GNOME Continuous builds, if we can all find a bit of free time to work on it.

Overall it was a great event and I’m glad Sri convinced me to poke my head out of my apartment for a few days 🙂 It should be back bigger and better next year, so do consider coming along.

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