Happenings: FOSS at CeBIT 2010
by Chris von Eitzen
The H attended this year's CeBIT trade show on the world's largest fairground in Hannover, Germany and had the chance to meet up with a wide variety of people from the open source community, including free and open source software (FOSS) developers, project members and commercial open source companies.
This year's CeBIT, held each spring since 1986, took place from the 2nd to the 6th of March, 2010 in in Hannover, Germany. CeBIT, an acronym for "Centrum der Büro- und Informationstechnik", which means "Centre of Office and Information technology", is the world's largest trade fair showcasing the latest in information technology (IT) products and solutions from more than 4,150 companies from 68 countries. The trade show is held on the Hannover fairground which features its own railway station, 5.3 million square feet of covered indoor space and consists of 27 halls and pavilions plus a convention centre with 35 function rooms.
Building upon its success last year, free and open source software projects and companies were once again highlighted in Hall 2, showcasing their latest products. While there, The H reported on a number of open source operating systems, applications and even the latest Android-based Home Tablets from ARCHOS. A full list of The H's CeBIT 2010 coverage is available at the end of page two of this feature.
The CeBIT Open Source Forum
The CeBIT Open Source Forum, a prominent feature in the Open Source area of Hall 2, featured several lectures, demonstrations and keynote speeches on several topics, from Open Source in data centres and security, to web browsers, mobility and multimedia. The H attended several of the Open Source Forum sessions, including the introduction of the latest 6.3 release of the popular Knoppix Live Linux distribution by Knoppix creator Klaus Knopper. The special 'CeBIT Edition' of Knoppix features an updated Linux kernel and several non-standard programs, such as the beta for Google's Chrome web browser, additional drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash – all at the request of Linux Magazine which sponsored the release. Following his presentation, The H sat down with Knopper and discussed Knoppix, ADRIANE (Audio Desktop Reference Implementation and Networking Environment) and his current projects.
Knopper, also a professor at the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences, bashfully says that he still finds it hard to believe that an entire community of users around the world use his Linux distribution. While he does not track the number of ISO downloads off of his site, he says that he does often check the number of users that accept the GPL license before the download – adding that the number of users accepting the license averages approximately 23,000 per day. The included ADRIANE software for vision impaired users, named after his wife, includes optional support for Braille devices allowing those without vision to, for example, access the internet, email, send and receive SMS messages, and scan and read printed materials. It's aimed at being a free alternative to expensive and closed source commercial software, which Knopper says often cost tens of thousands of Euros to develop and deploy and often only supports reading scanned documents. According to Knopper, the next version of Knoppix – either 6.3.1 or 6.4 depending upon how many features are added – could be available as soon as the end of March or early April. Knopper also gave a separate presentation on the lightweight LXDE desktop used in Knoppix.
During his presentation, Mozilla's European Marketing Manager Patrick Finch discussed why users should take a serious look at the non-profit organisation's Firefox web browser. He talked about what makes it different to other browsers and the foundation's current Open to Choice campaign that encourages users to get the facts about their browser, get involved and why browser choice matters. Deputy project leader Florian Schießl from the LiMux Project, which oversees Linux migration in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, talked about "OpenOffice.org for Munich", its successes, and the recent switch to the OpenDocument Format. Other presentations included sessions from Debian developer Alexander Reichle-Schmehl on the Debian GNU/FreeBSD operating system (OS), Ben van T’Ende from the TYPO3 Association on the TYPO3 Enterprise content management system (CMS), as well as a presentation by Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) Fellowship Coordinator Matthias Kirschner titled "8 misunderstandings about Free Software – (or are they lies?)".
The complete programme of lectures, demonstrations and keynote speeches is available online.