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Linuxforum BoF day 2006: LET’S GO! And I’ll spare you some highly irregular expressions

Linuxforum BoF dag, 28. oktober 2006Linuxforum BoF dag 2006

The 28th of October 2006 was the day of the Linuxforum 2006 Birds of a Feather sessions, and as it might have been noticed by regular readers, yours truly hosted the session on “open standards”, inspired by the recent legislation that asks the government to start using, and implementing, open standards in their IT solutions.

The forum was held at Symbion, which is a “research incubator”, I arrived late, and I followed the signs…Hmm that door leads to a stairwell, I entered, and immediately the door shut, I knew I was in trouble – I’ve experienced the same situation before – Shudder! There was NO way to exit the stairwell without a valid keycard, which I naturally didn’t hold. OK, in the words of Douglas Adams, Don’t Panic…There actually was a door to the outside, but it had a clear sign that said…Don’t open, it will trigger the alarm…

Hmm…I was as usually packing, using my cell phone to access the yellow pages actually yielded a number, I called it and the man on the line was quite surprised, first and foremost he was a bit annoyed about the fact that the building was open to host the Linuxforum, secondly he wondered how I got hold of his number, well it was listed with information! Well he gave me the main number to Symbion, he suggested that they had a number to call in case of an emergency…No way, I got a machine and a friendly goodbye! Damn…Well there were two numbers to some security services posted in the stairwell, I called both but they were also closed for the weekend. Now I started pounding on the door, but no one could hear me…Finally I heard a door slam…Hey! Wait a second…Phew someone was working that afternoon…With one swipe I was let out of my temporary prison, but I could have stayed there for a long, long time.

It’s a stupid set-up, and dangerous, I’ve experienced worse once, where I got trapped in another stairwell, and in that particular stairwell I didn’t find any doors to the outside, luckily I had my cellphone and the number of one of the employees.

The label on the button that opened the door read “Udtryk” this is funny, “udtryk” is Danish the litteral translation is “outpush”, and the meaning is that you press the button to get out, but “udtryk” also means “expression”, I’ll spare you the highly irregular and colourful expressions that I wanted to spill while trapped in the stairwell.

Oh well, now on topic!

My call for BoF was:

The spread of open standards
With Kim Bach, kim.bach(at)

I’m interested in how we can help implement the legislation B103: On the use of open standards in the public central administration.

Steps like the implementation of Open Document Format is a small step in the right direction, but don’t we need to establish a central CIO (Chief Information Officer) function in the public, inspired after Massachusetts. The “Bedst og Billigst” (best and cheapest) software policy of the government isn’t too clear, and it often results in “non-movement”, since that always will be cheapest.

How can we spread the knowledge of open and free alternatives to commercial products within, for instance, content management.

I’ve never done anything like this before, so I didn’t really understand the BoF format, but it’s really workshops, and quite informal, or at least that was the way my session ended, and I was very happy to see that some 20 people had joined the session, and more arrived later and they actually stayed!

Most of the sessions yesterday were hardcore technical sessions, and most of them were really packed.

I had prepared a few slides (follow link) and I’ve blogged on the subject several times, and I’m maintaining a page on my wiki.

I started out by presenting my slides, but really I only had 2-3, and immediately we had a real discussion going on, but it wasn’t till the end that we begun getting suggestions that we could write down. I’ll put it down to my lack of experience, and that I should have done more to keep focus, but it was really more of a brainstorm, and it was very rewarding indeed, at least to me, with most of the audience getting involved in the discussion.

We had a long and very fruitful discussion, mostly focused on the window of opportunity that we have right now, with Linux and open source software reaching such a high degree of maturity, and the major commercial player being almost tied down by huge technical challenges creating the next generation of their bread-and-butter software.

When it came to open standards, we spend a lot of time talking about Open Document Format, and ODF is very important indeed, because it can be considered a “Trojan”, simply start sending documents to the public authorities and tell them that they simple need to get hold of an open and free implementation of an Open Document Format viewer, for instance OpenOffice. With B103 in our hands, we can just say that what we sent was a document in the ONLY format that is an official ISO standard, and that the authority should start complying with B103.

Another important point that was made was that the volume agreements that the Danish public sector has with Microsoft, called eAftale is about to expire, so now’s the time to start pushing the alternatives to the politicians.
I’m quite happy with my own performance, and I’ll try to use this experience to build a shorter presentation, and I think that I got good response.

After “my” session, there was a session on the next steps for the open source movement in Denmark.

A number of suggestions on next steps were listed. We need to do A LOT more lobbying, and we need some reference cases, e.g. this school switched to Linux…

We’ll set-up a press centre…using the SSLUG wiki as a starting point, it seems that the Open Source movement in Denmark is in need of new blood, and I’m voluentering my services, I really need to join these SIGs.

The day ended with quality beer and more geekery, I’m REALLY REALLY impressed by Ubuntu 6.10 and I have the perfect machine to test it on, an iBook G3 500MHz that I just acquired.


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