Developer Conference 2012 part II: The talks

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One of the frequent comments about the third-annual Developer Conference (held at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic) concerned the structure of the talks. This year we grouped talks by theme. The schedule was more understandable and those who wanted to follow just one specific area didn’t have to switch rooms or wait for the next talk in their area of interest.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most interesting talks, by topic.


The first three presenters in this theme group talked about FreeIPA, kerberos authetification, and sssd. Alexandr Bokovoy talked about integration with Active Directory and Samba4 in FreeIPAv3.

A talk about SELinux looked at the new roles and application sandboxing. A talk from Miloslav Trmač explained why we actually should care about code security and offered examples of good coding hygiene when programming any kind of application.

One guest speaker, Rainer Gerhards, is an upstream developer of the rsyslog project. Rainer looked at the future of secure logging, introduced a standard that he believes should be more widely adopted, and explained how this would improve searching through logs and reviews of related events.


The best-rated, most humorous talk was in the kernel track: a presentation by Bryn Reeves called "How to Lose Data and Implicate People." Bryn is a support engineer at Red Hat, and he used customer stories to demonstrate typical misunderstandings and mistakes admins make while dealing with filesystems. Bryn engaged the crowd with jokes throughout his talk. My favourite is:

How long is one ohnosecond?

It’s the elapsed time between making a catastrophic error and realising what happened.

Other talks in this area also focused on filesystems. Lukáš Czerner talked about the advantages of btrfs, such as scalability up to 16EiB--or, as Lukáš said, "I don’t know how much that is but it’s a lot."  Lukáš shared that it is now possible to  perform very fast filesystem checking, take incremental backups and snapshots, add and remove drivers on the fly, and work with sub-volumes. The problems that remain are that fsync is not fully functional, slow work with large files, and not-yet-implemented encryption.

In another interesting talk, Milan Brož spoke about disk encryption. Milan mentioned the advantages of full disk encryption and discussed possible implementations, starting with hardware solutions--including the encryption logic in disk drives--and then moving into software solutions like truecrypt, look-AES with a key stored on an external device, a combination of luks and dm-crypt, and more.


The Core block of talks focused on various topics, most about new features in Fedora 17 or in the next major version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The first talk by Adam Tkáč introduced better support for DNSSEC in Fedora and pointed out future plans like better desktop and browser integration.

Another interesting feature in the upcoming Fedora release is Dynamic Software Collections. Dynamic Software Collections offers a mechanism to provide several parallel versions of certain packages on one system. This allows users to switch between them and write their applications inside of these collections.  The talk showed an example with Ruby and a repo available for testing. Thanks to scl-utils tool, the user can switch between Ruby 1.9.3 or Ruby 1.8.7 and use the right version for any project on the system.

A final, interesting Fedora 17 change was introduced by Kay Sievers and Harald Hoyer, who both work on unifying the directory hierarchy. The first step is already done, moving /bin and /sbin to /usr. Future plans include renaming the library directories for better multilib support, creating subdirectories for all library files, changes in /boot directory, and even (possibly) splitting configuration files between /etc and /usr/lib.


Desktop had a large number of talks and hackfest sessions, and great attendance. Thanks to GTK+ hackfest and Gnome Docs hackfest, Brno was full of well-known desktop developers—and not just the ones from Red Hat. Matthias Clasen opened this block of talks, discussing planned features for GTK+3 and GTK+4.

There were too many desktop standouts to give a lengthy explanation of each, so here’s a quick summary of some of the best offerings:

  • Jonathan Blandford looked at GNOME 3 features hitting Fedora 17 and the SPICE project.
  • Marc-André Lureau showed a demo of desktop virtualization boxes.
  • Hans de Goede showed SPICE integration with the desktop and with USB devices on thin clients.
  • Simon Schampijer showed that Sugar desktop is still alive and has something to show to users.
  • Shaun McCance gave a brief introduction to work done by the GNOME documentation team, as well as a look at his markup language, Mallard, that simplifies Docbook.

The last talk in the desktop block was by Jaroslav Řezník, the KDE developer who introduced the new Qt 5.  Řezník explained how Qt 5 will simplify desktop application development. Even his slides were coded in Qt 5, with all the new features directly integrated into the slides.


The JBoss community is huge in Brno and their talks filled a full track for two days (17 talks in total). There were also several foreign speakers in this track, including Geoffrey de Smet, who presented about Drools. Geoffrey gave a detailed description of terms like complex event processing, business rules management, and planning problems.

Aslak Knutsen picked a hot topic: autotesting and how project Arquillian can help. Aslak also ran a lab where volunteers could write service points to their own modules.

The Red Hat Brno office was represented by the next speaker, Karel Piwko. Karel presented web application testing directly in-browser using project Arquillian Ajocado, including a nice debugging demo. From all these talks, it was clear to the audience that JBoss is no longer just an application server. It is instead a set of projects that can be deployed for various purposes, beginning with system integration and ending by finding the shortest travel route for an European vacation.


The first talk in the cloud track was presented by a pair of well-known speakers to those who attend conferences around Czech Republic--Michal Fojtík and Francesco Vollero. They introduced project Deltacloud, a unified API across various cloud providers, and project Aeolus, a set of tools for working with virtual appliances.

Next up was Mladen Turk, who talked about the very fresh Apache 2.4 with significantly improved performance. Turk also discussed why he thinks that Apache is a core of the cloud.

Alan Pevec had an interesting talk on oVirt. Alan is part of the virtualization team at Red Hat and is responsible for the group working on oVirt and related projects.

One of the newer projects at Red Hat is GlusterFS. Niels De Vos briefly introduced GlusterFS, and talked about it’s advantages and typical use-case scenarios. GlusterFS is a project that is going to be interesting to large cloud providers.


There were few additional talks that couldn’t be categorized into any of the described groups. Honza Hutař, for example, introduced a new contest for students and interested other parties, calling the competition Redbot. The goal is to code a robot strategy and algorithm and beat the other teams in a game similar to the old Nokia snake game--a 2D maze where snakes ‘grow’ as they pick up points.

Another talk focused on students and introduced projects where Red Hat is supporting university efforts. Former Fedora Project Leader Jared Smith prepared two talks, the first about cross-distro collaboration, and the second describing his use of Docbook and the Publican tool for generating documentation from various sources and in various formats.

Stanislav Kozina also gave a talk, titled "What Can Linux Learn From the Others" that  showed features--mainly from Solaris—that he believes Linux would find beneficial.

Find out more about this years workshops and hackfests in Part III of this series.

Photos taken by Václav Tunka and Tomáš Bžatek.

Active Fedora user since 2003 Engineering Manager @ Red Hat Czech

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