CeBIT 2012: At the Open Source Project Lounge
The Open Source Project Lounge at this year's CeBIT – taking place in Hannover, Germany until 10 March – is as diverse as ever, with a variety of free and open source (FOSS) projects and organisations being represented by both developers and community members alike. Despite primarily being a commercial show where space is expensive, each year, projects have the opportunity to apply for free booth space, and this year, the Open Source Project Lounge is in the corner of Hall 2. The H had the opportunity to attend this, the world's largest ICT event, and catch up with a number of the projects' representatives.
Community members from a German Ubuntu user group were kept busy demonstrating the current 11.10 release of Ubuntu and handing out disks preloaded with the open source operating system. They used an ASUS Eee PC desktop with a touch screen to show off the Unity desktop user interface and its touch capabilities. Those gathered around the small stand were told about the benefits of Ubuntu, and Linux in general, over other desktop operating systems such as Windows. As the crowd grew throughout the day, they also used a Samsung netbook to walk around and show visitors what Ubuntu has to offer.
Members of the KDE project were, as expected, promoting the benefits of the popular desktop environment using Kubuntu, the KDE derivative of Ubuntu. However, they were also demonstrating KDE applications such as Calligra on the Nokia N9 smartphone running Meego. Attendees could also try out a Spark tablet running a build of the Plasma Active user interface, which uses components from KDE Plasma Workspaces.
Jonathan Riddell, who has worked on Kubuntu for the past seven years, was at the stand and told The H that he is looking forward to the upcoming 12.04 release of Kubuntu – Riddell had been paid by Canonical for his work on Kubuntu but Canonical recently decided to withdraw that funding. He went on to say that he hopes community contributors will step up to take over some of his work following 12.04 as he may not be able to do much development in his free time.
The Horde Project was showing off version 4.0.x of its web-based Groupware solution. Speaking to The H, Development Lead Jan Schneider said that the developers are currently hard at work on the next major update, version 5.0, which will see a number of user interface changes and improvements to mobile support. Fellowship Coordinator Matthias Kirschner was among those representing the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) in the Project Lounge. The non-profit organisation was promoting its vision of a patent-free Europe as well as its recently launched "Free Your Android!" campaign.
Other projects represented in the Open Source area of this year's CeBIT include FusionDirectory, the Python programming language and the LibreOffice productivity suite. Not surprisingly, there were also some region-centric projects such as openATTIC and OpenGnSys (Open Genesis), which brings together open tools for managing and deploying computers from several Spanish Public Universities. Also present was ffgtk (Fritz Fun), a project for controlling FRITZ!Box or compatible routers using Linux – FRITZ!Box is very popular in Germany but not so common in other countries.
Overall, the Open Source Project Lounge appeared to be just as popular as other parts of the trade show, including the commercial open source companies surrounding it. While none of the projects had any major announcements to make, most said that they are grateful to have the chance to take part in such a large event and introduce attendees to the world of open source.