Saving money with Open Source software

“In the end, Postgres looks to me like it’s saving us like 5X in hardware costs as we continue to grow.”

This comment  was published on Redit about an article that compares PostgreSQL with MS SQL Server. I will not join the raging battle between the two clans and I am leaving the field to those who know best.

This article made me rethink the reasons why I like Open Source.

Why do I like Open Source?

This might be a very romantic view but I still believe people are good at working together for the benefit of our society.  So what is Open Source? Open Source software is software whose code can be modified or enhanced by anyone.

Born from a grassroots movement, Open Source brings:

  • Collaboration between people who may never meet but have the same vision
  • Delivery of lower cost products as there are no big companies or shareholders behind the projects
  • Strong motivation from individuals who have a huge interest in writing code, making other members of the community enthusiastic about their projects
  • Flexibility as individuals make improvements which are then made available to the public

For all these reasons and a lot more, PostgreSQL is a good example of Open Source software and its movement. For example, 2ndQuadrant employees are significant contributors to the development of PostgreSQL with many of the features found in the current version developed by their people. Their latest addition is BDR (Bi-directional replication), an extension to PostgreSQL, free and Open Source which will be integrated to future versions of PostgreSQL.

Will Open Source saves us money? That I suppose will be the question for many years to come?

Think, Code, and Experiment

Last week the 5th Open World Forum took place in the very heart of Paris, and this year af83 was again strongly involved in this major European and French Open Source event.

We are totally dedicated to the subjects tackled and the values at the very heart of the Forum: “the Open Digital Strategies”. This is the reason of our unfailing involvement in organizing and running it. The Forum’s format has undergone a number of changes last year while I was Chairman. I really wanted to make the event evolve, to be more comprehensive, pragmatic and accessible, while keeping its forum and think-tank dimension: a place where ideas are born, an event after which communities change and projects are formed. Hence, two dimensions were added to the conference:

  • Code, to gather the best developers
  • Experiment, to share with the general public who is often interested but kept apart

This is the best way to reconnect executives, companies, developers and their users.

So for the second year, three tracks coexisted (Think, Code and Experiment) to put Open Source in everybody’s hands – decision makers, developers and general public – through various talks and demonstrations held by more than 250 speakers and exhibitors.

It was as always a unique opportunity to meet the key players of the domain and take part in in-depth reflections on Open digital strategy, but also test the latest Open Source technologies, attend high-level talks and see artists’ performances, new Open interfaces for the home and Open Source robot operating systems.

The Think track was richer than ever, tackling a range of topics as wide as Open Data, Cloud, Embedded Systems, NoSQL databases, security and legal issues related to free solutions, the importance of education and training, communities, prospective and strategy, Open Source business models, R&D and industrialization, mobility, Open standards, Internet of Open stuff…

These were covered in keynotes, debates between a panel of experts, feedback from CIOs, case studies, innovation awards and less informal exchanges between participants: two intense days! There were great speakers, for example, Ralf Flax, Suse VP of Engineering, who has the soul of a true Open Source developer.

For those still in doubt, this year’s conference confirmed several points: Open Source is not only for the lower layers of the information system anymore, and can be highly efficient for answering various issues, from small to global companies as well as public services and organizations. It is strategic – but it also needs a considered strategy. With the increasing importance of software in our lives, Free and Open Software are more than ever relevant, allowing each player to have control of key components. It also proved that the ecosystem is ever-growing, lively, full of innovation and energy and has real economic weight.

Along with the CxOs, the Forum once more gave room to developers with the 2 day Code track in collaboration with a lot of vibrant communities. It hosted for example the FUDcon FEDORA,, Android and GoogleTV presentations and workshops and many more on Cloud, NoSQL, and HTML5. aims to gather French-speaking developers from all communities involved with programming innovative technology and free languages (e.g. Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, SmallTalk, Scala, Clojure, Erlang and Haskell). We had the opportunity to attend high level talks by, among others,

  • Harald Welte (German hacker involved in a lot of free projects such as NetFilter, OpenMoko, GPL Violations), who spoke about Osmocom and Erlang;
  • Dodji Seketeli (RedHat Senior Software Engineer) on the upcoming GCC4.8;
  • Christian Couder (Senior Release Engineer) on git bisect, a invaluable tool to detect regressions;
  • Michael Scherer on the benefits of devs and packagers’ collaboration;
  • A presentation of the robot NAO and how to program it by Aldebaran engineers

… in short, a geek’s dream come true! Some of the OSDC sessions were recorded and will soon be available online, so check here  to catch up!

Finally, Saturday was the occasion to welcome the general public, to exchange and experiment around free art, internet privacy and neutrality, and contribute to projects such as Open Street Maps. Children weren’t forgotten – with this year’s KidExperiment (the mini conference for kids, hosted/carried out by MiniShare, HacKIDemia and the “Petits débrouillards”) which included  workshops and hands-on manipulations to dive into programming and code…

Co-founder, AF83 and Bearstech, Chairman of Cap Digital Collibri Community, Board of Silicon Sentier , President of the OWF 2011 ( France)
Louis is the co-founder of two companies, AF83 and Bearstech. AF83 is a Digital Agency, providing cutting-edge development, marketing and UX design services, based in Paris and San Francisco. Bearstech is an Open Source pure player, which provides IS management services, as well as responsible web and product development services. Louis is also heavily involved in Silicon Sentier and one of the founders of La Cantine, and is the chairman of Collibri, the free software & “open innovation” workgroup of Cap Digital, representing 150+ French companies and labs working with new technologies and free software.

With the great help of Marie Ailloud.

Comments from Josette – Watch this space for details of Open World Forum 2013 – I will be there, will you?

Goodbye FOSDEM 2012

On the way to FOSDEM.

La Grand Place under the snow

Cold morning, need to de-ice the car… At long last got as near as possible to Reading station. What a mess! Allegedly, it will be brilliant in a few years time. Now to platform 5 for the train to London. Oops! Sorry no platform 5. It does not exist anymore – it is now called platform 8. I wish I was in King’s Cross and took the train on platform 9 & 3/4 And hopped through the wall but no, I am on the now platform 8 of Reading station waiting for the 7.57 train to Paddington. Technical problems in Maidenhead, the fast train is now taking 50 mn instead of 25 – I have got time, no problem, just a pity I could not find a seat. At long last got to the Eurostar station, breakfast at the Pain Quotidien with my colleague, Clair – nice. Now in the train, can see a few techies around so we will not be alone at the Universite Libre. I must be terrible company … Clair is fast asleep.

La Grand Place under snow (2)

Made it to Brussels – Clair is awake. Now hotel and lunch. Eating mussels and chips as one must in Brussels, we soon realised that it was snowing. Fosdem under the snow – that’s a first. Part of me love it, my other side worries that nobody will come to Fosdem. La Grand Place under snow is wonderful – yet another Christmas card. First fall – could it be the last? Dinner with some friends and a quick visit to the Delirium – just a quick visit, without beer, to show Clair what it is about. As I am sure you know, the Delirium is the drinking place where lots and I mean lots of Techies meet on Friday night. A great place to network, meet your friends and of course drink the best beer in the world – so they tell me but not the place to go to if you need to work early the next day.

The Chocolate quest

Saturday morning – bleak. It is cold. Taxi to the university with some friends. Sylvia and Bogomil offered

their help with setting up the book tables… only 50 large boxes of books. Will we be ready on time? Of course, I should have more faith. Everything was ready on time – now we just wait for the customers. Fosdem has changed a lot this year, a new building has been added – building K. All the stands have been moved to building K except for the information/registration booth and the O’Reilly stand. I have got twice as much space as previous years (will soon need a bike to get from one side of the stand to the other). It is cold, it is freezing … Keep moving even if you look silly. We have all heard of the Fosdem dance (if not I am sure you can find it online) but have you heard of the frozen dance on the O’Reilly stand? Please shut the door! The day went well, sold a reasonable quantity of books, met lots of friends from France, Italy, Spain, Greece etc. The bad weather does not seem to have stop people to come.

The K building, unfortunately I did not have a chance to see it but apparently it is new, heated, large (plenty of space for all the stands) etc. Next


year we might all move there… but will you find us? Fosdem without you is not Fosdem! Will let you know what’s happening in a future post.

Sunday, still bleak, still icy but a different kind of a Sunday at Fosdem. Usually Sunday is the day of rest, even for us. We have time to sit down and have a little chat but not this Sunday. I don’t think we sat once during the 2 days. I did however got the most beautiful back massage – thank you friend, please come back next year :)

The End

As I am sure you are aware I like Fosdem a lot. It is where you meet all your old friends. Not only do you hear about the latest developments, you hear the latest news, the most important news. What is more important than to hear about the birth of Viktor or Alexandra. We won’t publish a book about these events but I still believe that they are the most important events of our world and they are the key to our future.

To the organizers I shall just say a big thank you for organizing this mammoth  task called FOSDEM. How do you coordinate 429 speakers and so many tracks etc? Chapeau!



RMLL11- Strasbourg

Day 1:
it is 6.30 am, I ran to the restaurant for a quick cup of coffee and then off to the university of Strasbourg for setting up my table at rmll 11. It does not look too good – the cleaner had to open the door. I can see lots and lots of empty tables with 2 empty plastic bags on top (I am sure I will understand the meaning of the plastic bag sooner or later) and a named label – no O’Reilly table yet – where am I supposed to be? The nightmare is starting  – no tables, no boxes of books. Where is everybody? For once I have got plenty of time to write a post but nothing to write about.

10 am –  panic over, the stand is ready. Books are selling. The sun is out – all is well. If only I could open the window. Never mind, the welcome is great.

Richard Stallman made a visit to the fsfe stand, opposite the O’Reilly table but he did not come to see me. He can’t have seen me ….

Will post some photos when I learnt how to use my iPad. It may take a while!