Open Source at CeBIT 2013
by Christopher von Eitzen
Open Source software has had a special area for itself at the CeBIT trade show for the last five years. The H went along to see what was new this year and in the process met Knoppix creator, Klaus Knopper, saw the latest in 3D printing, and talked with John "Maddog" Hall about Project Cauã.
In March of each year, businesses, vendors, entrepreneurs and developers travel to Hanover, Germany to attend the CeBIT trade show on the world's largest fairground. Although it takes place just shortly after other large
events, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, CeBIT – an acronym for Centrum der Büro- und Informationstechnik ("Centre of Office and Information Technology") – is still by far the biggest and most international expo. Since 1986, it has showcased the latest and greatest in information technology (IT) products and solutions from thousands of companies from dozens of countries all around the world.
CeBIT 2013 marks the fifth year that open source software and companies have had a major presence at the show, complete with a prominent stage area – the Open Source Forum – for talks and presentations from various speakers. However, the first thing that past visitors to CeBIT would notice is that the open source area was no longer located in Hall 2. Instead, it had been moved across the fairgrounds to Hall 6; according to the Deutsche Messe, which organises and hosts CeBIT at the Hanover fairground, this was done to provide more room for the Open Source Forum and the Open Source Park following "the huge demand in recent years".
The Open Source Park
Located in Hall 6, the Open Source Park is the area set aside for commercial open source vendors to show off their wares and give visitors the opportunity to get hands-on demonstrations. Walking up and down the rows, visitors can see small stands manned by one or two people, as well as medium to large booths and sections set aside for "themed areas", including the CMS Garden for content management systems.
A newcomer to CeBIT this year was Canonical – its Ubuntu distribution has never officially been represented by the company at the trade show. In the past, its only appearance has come from members of German Ubuntu user groups promoting the use of the distribution along with other free and open source software. Unlike its presence at CES and MWC earlier this year, Canonical was not showing off Ubuntu for Phones. Instead, the focus of the show for Canonical EMEA Channel Manager Andrew Cooper, his colleagues and German partner firm Teuto, was the company's cloud infrastructure products and services.
While slightly smaller than its section last year, one of the bigger Open Source Park stands was that of German firm Univention, best known for its Univention Corporate Server (UCS) server operating system based on Debian.
While at CeBIT, Univention announced that users can now quickly and easily install Zarafa's open source groupware software, the Zarafa Collaboration Platform (ZCP), through the new UCS App Center.
Just behind the Univention stand, the new CMS Garden area at the Open Source Park was full of straw-hat-wearing individuals showing off the latest CMS systems, such as Joomla!, WordPress, Typo3, Magnolia and Plone; web application development frameworks such as Django were also represented. Attendees to the CMS Garden were offered hands-on demonstrations and given a free guide book, with information in both English and German, that included a detailed
overview of the CMS systems represented. As well as offering descriptions of each CMS and information such as the current major release for each program, the size of the user community and the number of core contributors, the collaboratively written, 120-page book provided a brief overview of open source software and licences in general.
Another popular stand was open source IT solutions specialist B1 Systems, which presented offerings from its partners, including Red Hat, SUSE, OpenStack, ownCloud and Nagios; the fact that it once again handed out weisswurst and pretzels to attendees also didn't hurt. Among the other companies represented were OpenERP, which presented the latest release of its Enterprise Resource Planning business application suite, and enterprise content management company Alfresco.
As you would expect, a majority of the remaining companies were German. They included the FOSS Group, infrastructure specialist NETWAYS, the Munich-based open source book publisher Open Source Press, open source document management company Agorum, open source hosting and consulting company Metaways, and Linux training and consulting firm Heinlein, which sponsored this year's Open Source Forum.