foss-north

It is with great regret that I have to announce that foss-north 2020 has been postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

It will be replaced by a virtual event during the planned dates (March 30-31), and a physical event during the fall.

We regret any inconvenience that this causes our guests and sponsors. At the same time we appreciate the great support of our sponsors who unanimously support us in these difficult times.

Details will be shared at https://foss-north.se/2020/ as we learn more.

This is turning out to be a really shitty week. But we will prevail together.

I’m always positively surprised about the amount of support and love out there in difficult times. It is what makes the world go around.

More foss stuff

It is busy days at the moment – but in a positive way.

First of all – a huge thanks to everyone who submitted to the Call for Papers for foss-north 2020. We have over 70 hours (!!!) of contents to squeeze into two tracks over two days. As always, it will be hard to pick the speakers to create the very best program.

Other foss-north activities includes starting to populate the community day activities, as well as getting a whole bunch on sponsors onboard. An extra big thanks to Luxoft and Red Hat Ansible for helping us by picking up the Gold Sponsorship packages. Ansible are even running their European Contributor Summit as a part of the foss-north Community Day together with events by KDE, Gnome, FreeBSD, Debian, and a hardware hacking workshop. I’m really looking forward to this – if you want to join in with your own project, workshop, hackaton, etc – just ping me!

The other big foss-north change for this year is that we are finally abandoning Eventbrite for a self-hosted system. Big thanks to Magnus Hagander helping us getting the pgeu-system up and running. At the moment, we offer login via Github and Google OAUTH. We’re looking into setting up a self-hosted OAUTH service as well, to let you log in locally, but that will not happen for the 2020 event due to time reasons.

Closer in time is the next local foss-gbg meetup. We are running an event around React together with our good friends at Edument. We already have 50+ registered attendees, so it will be fun!

In other news – I’ve also released Ordmonster – if anyone has kids who wants to get started reading. This is a complement to the Mattemonster app for basic maths launched earlier. Both are made with Godot, a tool that I enjoy more and more.

gbgcpp – Ribbons using Qt

I’ve been involved in the gbgcpp group, a part of the larger Sweden C++ community, for a couple of years. It is fun to see that there is a lot of C++ developers out there, once you start looking for them.

In the next meetup, this Wednesday, there will be both C++ and Qt. The topic is to implement Ribbons in Qt, based on a seminar by Dag Brück. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Gothenburg, I recommend you to go there!

I’d also like reach out and thank Sylog for hosting the event!

Preparing foss-north 2020

Next year’s foss-north will take place March 29 – 31, with the training day on April 1. Preparations are under way, and now we need your participation to make this event as great as the past years.

The preparations are under way and we’ve opened the Call for Papers. We truly believe that we bring together the best audience with the best speakers. Being a part of this is a great experience, so make sure to get your talk proposal submitted.

Another part of the foss-north experience is the community day. The day before the actual conference, a large set of community groups arrange workshops, hackatons, dev sprints, even mini conferences. This year we’ve already confirmed the participation of KDE, FreeBSD, and “something embedded” arranged by Endian (last year they did a full day workshop on the Zephyr Project).

If you want to be a part of the community day – don’t hesitate to reach out to info@foss-north.se. We help with a venue, food, and promotion. All you need to have is a cause!

In addition to this we are, of course, on the look out for sponsors. If you want to support us, or even take part in the conference with a booth, please join our Call for Sponsors. Make sure to tell your employer that they should sponsor – all sponsor packages include free tickets, so that way you can both participate in the event, and help us making this possible.

Between all of this we’re also working on the infrastructure. I’d like to extend a big thanks to Magnus Hagander from Postgresql. He is helping the migration to their pgeu-system system. This will give us a single system integrating the features we need – tickets, sponsors, scheduling, accounting. So no more Google Forms, Eventbrite, and manual coordination of systems. If you like css, html, and such, you’re more than welcome to help. Some pages still has rough edges.

Long story short: join us at foss-north 2020 – it will be fun! Take the opportunity to see Gothenburg end of March in 2020.

Free software and the wish to be good

The free software movement has recently been going through a lot. From the introduction of Commons Clause, to the resignation of Stallman. It seems like the mood in the air is that now is the time for a redefinition of what free and open source software actually is.

My view on this is that free software, and open source, is about software. For instance, I agree to Roman Gilg’s great post about activism. What we share within the FOSS movement is our passion for software licensing. For other political issues, we do not all agree. It is important to recognize this, and that by implying political standpoints, we limit the size of the communities.

To me, we in the FOSS movement need to define tackle two issues: what is distribution (to address the Common Clause issues), and can we be neutral to what the software is used for (to address the activism issues).

When it comes to distribution, the open source definition explicitly says “No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups” and “No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor“. I think we all can agree that software is used for both good and evil. However, what is good and what is evil depends on your viewpoint. I believe that the license should be free of this type of politics, as opening the discussion will be like opening a Pandora’s box.

If we, as a community, want to define good and and bad, and restrict usage accordingly, I would argue that we should make sure to use an established, and accepted standard such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This would avoid creating an impenetrable forest of various uses that each author feels strongly about and prohibits. The latter would make it very difficult to ensure compliance.

When it comes to compliance, including a definition of good and restricting usage accordingly has an interesting effect. Common day objects such as cars, can be used for both good and evil. Is it allowed to use FOSS licensed software in a car, if that car could be used in activities breaking the human rights?

Another problem with incorporating human rights into the license, is that those who ignore the human rights probably don’t care about software licenses either.

The second point is the definition of distribution. Here I’m approaching the discussion from a GPL standpoint. The GPL licenses are triggered when software is distributed. By taking the distribution concept further, e.g. including access over a network, the license can be further extended.

Here, the balancing act is going far enough, but not too far, and to provide a range of licenses that make it easy for the authors to control how the software can be used.

The problem that I see with going too far, is that entire fields of endeavor might be excluded by extending the license to far. One example of this is the anti-Tivioization clauses in (L)GPLv3. We all know what purpose they serve. The side effect is that they exclude entire fields where the OEMs feel that, for liability or compliance reasons, they need to introduce Tivioization.

I see this in the automotive sector, but would assume that it exists in medtech and other industries where the final product needs to fulfill safety requirements.

For me, I think that the license should prevent Tivioization from an end-user standpoint. It should be possible to change and deploy the software. I believe it should be explicitly allowed to detect the non-OEM software and, for instance, void warranties and warn the end-user, but not prevent usage of the product (this in itself is interesting – can other physical devices refuse to talk to the device, e.g. a cloud backend, or other ECUs in the same car? – it will be tricky to define the boundaries here). This opens the door for FUD warnings, but it also extends the reach of FOSS.

Both these topics form a complex discussion that needs to be given time. The current open source definition serves us well, and the current licenses are familiar. Introducing more licenses, or even challenging the definition of open source, will introduce complexities and side effects, so we need to tread carefully.

foss-north 2019: Community Day


I don’t dare to count the days until foss-north 2019, but it is very soon. One of the changes to this year is that we expand the conference with an additional community day.

The idea with the community day here is that we arrange for conference rooms all across town and invite open source projects to use them for workshops, install fests, hackathons, dev sprints or whatever else they see fit. It is basically a day of mini-conferences spread out across town.

The community day is on April 7, the day before the conference days, and is free of charge.

This part of the arrangements has actually been one of the most interesting ones, as it involves a lot of coordination. I’d like to start by thanking all our room hosts. Without them, the day would not be possible!

The other half of the puzzle is our projects. I am very happy to see such a large group of projects willing to try this out for the first time, and I hope for lots and lots of visitors so that they will want to come back in the future as well.

The location of each project, as well as the contents of each room can be found on the community day page. Even though the day is free of charge, some of the rooms want you to pre-register as the seats might be limited, or they want to know if they expect five or fifty visitors. I would also love for you to register at our community day meetup, just to give me an indication of the number of participants.

Also – don’t forget to get your tickets for the conference days – and combine this with a training. We’re already past the visitor count of the 2018 event, so we will most likely be sold out this year!

TableView and Qt 5.12 / Qt Creator 4.8

I finally got around to doing the final merge for QmlBook this year.

I just merged the chapter on the brand new TableView. This let’s you show 2D data tables in an efficient way.

I also merged the version upgrade, so the text should now reflect what is available from Qt 5.12 and be based on menus and screens from Qt Creator 4.8.

During this update of the text, we took the decision not to upgrade all import statements to QtQuick 2.12. Instead, we use different versions in different places. However, the contents of Qt 5.12 is covered.

There are still two things left for the 5.12 branch. The first is to use the new input handlers, e.g. TapHandler instead of MouseArea. The second is to setup a release branch in the CI system so that there is a 5.12 version of the book built separately. I suspect that this will force me to learn more Travis tricks :-)

Merging QmlBook Contents

What better way to spend a lazy Christmas day than to merge some of the new chapters to the QmlBook?

Since having updated the CI system, there is a bit of manual merging forth and back to get each new piece of contents on-line. Specifically, rebase my fork’s master to upstream/master, then rebase my working branch on my master, and then pushing.

One of the newly added chapters cover Qt Quick Controls 2, which is the recommended way to create controls such as buttons, sliders, checkboxes, menues, and so on. Here we look at how you target various form factors such as desktop and mobile, but also how to maintain a common code base between the two.

The other new chapter has a look at Qt for Python from a QML perspective. This chapter goes from the very basic all the way to exposing a Qt model representing the data of an existing Python module to QML.

QmlBook gets CI/CD

Christmas is coming and a long and exciting fall is coming to and end. One of my projects during this fall has been to update the QmlBook. This was made possible by The Qt Company who generously stepped in and sponsored my work on this – thank you all!

I’ve worked away during the fall adding a whole bunch of new contents and the documentation people over at The Qt Company has joined in and helped with a language review. One frustrating aspect of the QmlBook project has unfortunately been that the CI/CD system has been broken for a very long time. This means that even the small typo fixes made over the past months has not made it beyond the source git repository.

All this changed tonight! After fighting with Travis, trying to understand why things around Sphinx Docs has broken, realizing that Travis has quirks – as has the old QmlBook deployment setup, I could finally merge pull request #221 – Implementing CI/CD (and then fiddled around with the last quirks). Big thanks to my co-author, Jürgen Bocklage-Ryannel, who reviewed and helped me through this.

To celebrate this, I took the liberty of changing the style of the page. This way, you will recognize that you are browsing the new, updated QmlBook.

There were unfortunately a few sacrifices made during this transition. We lost support for generating QtHelp (it can most likely be fixed) and we dropped support for translations during a transitional period. There is a plan for both translations and different parallel versions of the book. The idea is to tune each version of the book to a specific Qt version.

To sum things up: expect broken links. Expect missing contents. But know that the contents is up-to-date!

Now – go enjoy Christmas! God Jul på er alla!

Video Editing for foss-gbg

Editing videos for foss-gbg and foss-north has turned into something that I do on almost a montly basis. I’ve tried a few workflows, but landed in using kdenlive and, when needed, Audacity. I’m not a very advanced audio person, so if kdenlive would incorporate basic noise reduction and a compressor, I stay within one tool.

Before I describe the actual process, I want to mention something about the hardware involved. There are so many things that you can do when producing this type of contents. However, all the pieces that you add to the puzzle is another point of failure. The motto is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Hence, we use a single video camera with an integrated microphone. This is either an action cam, or a JVC video camera. In most cases this just works. In some cases the person talking has a microphone and then we try to place the camera close to a speaker. It has happened that we’ve recorded someone whispering just by the camera…

As we don’t have a dedicated microphone for the speaker, we get an audio stream that includes the reaction of the audience. That is in my opinion a good thing. It captures the mood of the event. However, we also get quite a lot of background noise which is bad. For this, I rely on this workflow from Rich Bowen. Basically, I extract the audio stream from the recording, massage it in Audacity, and then re-introduce it.

I’ve found it easier to cut the video prior to fixing the audio. This usually means find the start and the end of the talk, but in some cases it is more complex. E.g. removing parts of the Q&A due to reasons, or cutting out a demo that makes no sense when watching the video.

Once in Audacity, I generally pick out a “silent” part of the recoding to learn a noise profile. I then apply a noise reduction effect to the entire recording. This commonly produces a somewhat distorted sound (like if spoken into a can), but the voice of the speaker comes across nicely. After that, I usually apply a compressor effect to balance the loud and quite parts better. I’ve noticed that speakers often start out with a loud voice, and then softens the voice during the talk. For such cases, the compressor helps. It also helps balancing the sound level during Q&A where the audience might be quite or loud compared to the speaker depending on the layout of the venue.

Once the video and audio are cut and filtered, we need some intro and exit screens. I create these using LibreOffice Impress. I have created a template for the title page with the title of the talk and the name of the speaker, followed by a slide with room for the sponsor logo. This has a white background as logos mix badly with the crazy yellow colour of foss-gbg. Finally there is an exit slide which just says foss-gbg.se. I then export the slides to pdf and use ImageMagick to create pngs from them. Since I’m lazy, I just produce huge pngs that I mogrify to the right size. The entire flow looks like this:

libreoffice --headless --convert-to pdf slides.odp 
convert -density 300 -depth 8 -quality 85 slides.pdf slides.png
mogrify -resize 1920x1080 slides*.png

The very last step of the process is to overlap the intro and exit screens with the start and end of the video in a good way. I mix this with fading the audio in and out. The trickiest is fading in, as it is nice to hear the first words of the speaker but you don’t want the noise from the audience. I’ve found that no matter what, you need to fade in the sound, even if the fade only lasts for a fraction of a second. Fading out is easy as things usually ends in an applause.

Then it is all about clicking render, remembering to change the name of the output file and uploading to the foss-gbg YouTube channel.