GCI 2014 winners trip report (mentor side)

Blog post by PulkoMandy on Thu, 2015-06-11 00:32

GCI winners trip 2014 report

Hi there!
I'm reporting from San Francisco today. This week I was visiting Google, meeting with the two winner students from Google Code-In as well as the students and mentors from the 11 other organizations participating in GCI.

In case you missed it: GCI is a program run by Google for 13-17 year old children. The goal of the program is to introduce them to open source software and get them contributing there, and to get them interested in computer science in general.

The students have to pick one of the 12 participating open source projects and complete tasks for it. At the end of the contest, each project picks two winners from the participating students. The winners get to visit Google and the San Francisco area this week.

The students also get to meet a mentor from each organization during that week. Since our first participartion in 2010, Scott McCreary has been doing this, but this year we decided to ask the winning students who they would like to meet. And they both picked me.

Our two winning students also were from Europe: Puck Meerburg from the Netherlands, and Josef Gajdusek from Czech republic. I met with Puck in Amsterdam airport as I arranged to be in the same plane to San Francisco. After a long but uneventful flight, we landed safely and checked in at the hotel.

We met with Josef and the other students and mentors in the Hotel lobby where there was a "meet and greet" reception in the evening. Students were given a list of traits ("sings in a choir", "can speak 3 or more languages fluently", etc) and had a few minutes to find as much students and mentors as possible matching the traits. This was a good way for the students to get to know each other and the mentors a bit. We then stayed in the hotel lobby for some discussion or hacking.

The next day we had to wake up rather early in order to board a bus to Mountain View, where we spent the day in Google headquarters. We ran around the complex in the bus, then there were talks from several people from different projects at Google: self driving cars, project Tango, a talk about Internet and TCP/IP by a Samba developer, and a talk about Nest. We also visited Google's visitor center (or rather, a "beta" verion of it) and the Google Store where you can buy T-Shirts and other Google branded objects.

On Tuesday was the "fun day". We split into 3 groups for different activities. The first visited Alcatraz island, the second went for a Segway tour of San Francisco, and the third visited the Exploratorium, which is a science (and arts) museum hosted in one of the piers in SF port, mostly above the water. We later met for lunch in a park by the sea, and boarded the bus once again to visit the Golden Gate bridge. The day ended with a Yacht course accross the bay, and we could enjoy a beautiful view of San Francisco from there.

The third day was hosted in Google San Francisco office, very near the hotel, to avoid the very long bus trip to Mountain View (and also because this is where the open source programs office is actually hosted). We had one last talk from a Google project, this time about YouTube, and the rest of the day, each mentor gave a short talk about his project and some highlights of the work done during GCI.

These 3 days were a good way to advertise Haiku to some more people, meet members of other projects, and also meet the two winning students in real life (although I already knew Puck from BeGeistert). And it was also a great way to discover the San Francisco area, since I never was there before. We got an official announcement that there will be a GCI in 2015, which is good news. I don't know if I'll be representing Haiku there again, as I think it was a good idea to ask the students who they wanted to see. We will probably do that again.

Ohio LinuxFest 2014 Report

Blog post by jprostko on Thu, 2014-11-06 20:56
I took the day off of work on Friday the 24th and made the three or so hour trip from Pittsburgh to Columbus. Upon arriving at the Columbus Convention Center, I met up with the Speaker Chair of Ohio LinuxFest, Vance Kochenderfer, and set up the table runner at the table that was designated to Haiku. After that, I headed back to the hotel to drop off all of my excess baggage, got some food, and then headed back to the Convention Center.

This year, the expo floor was open on Friday evening, so I decided to take advantage of that to show off Haiku on my Lenovo X120e and System76 Galago UltraPro. I got some people that were certainly interested, and had lots of worthwhile conversations from both existing Haiku users and dabblers, as well as people who were not familiar with Haiku at all. I did a quick interview with Michael Huff of (currently being built), and he was great to interact with. I haven't had time to check out this video of his yet, but I figure at the very least there is some video footage of me, even if the interview did not make the cut.

BG026 Coding Sprint report

Blog post by PulkoMandy on Fri, 2012-11-09 08:49

Hi there !
This week was the BeGeistert coding sprint. I assume you already read the great report at IsComputerOn about the conferences for this week-end, so here's just a summary of the work done durint the coding sprint.

ARM Port - Ithamar Adema, René Gollent, Adrien Destugues

Ithamar was holding the keyboard on this one. He's working on low-level Android stuff as his paid job, so he has a good understanding of the hardware and the Linux kernel that serves as a reference.

The ARM port was started as a Google Summer of Code project back in 2009. The project got the kernel compiling, and the bootloader working. Things more or less stayed there after that. However, with the recent release of the Raspberry Pi and some other cheap ARM-based hardware, there is interest for ARM again.

Ithamar is working with the Gumstix Verdex board. This is what was used for the work in 2009. That board is quite old by now, but it has a complete emulation in QEmu which is very useful for debugging the kernel.

We worked on getting interrupts, context switching, and page faults working. This brings the kernel to the point where it says "Cannot find any boot partitions", because there is no mass storage driver yet (it also lights 4 icons on the bootscreen, which is also working). We tried to add the usb mass storage driver, but that reliably triggers a panic which also happens, but only sometimes, on x86.

We also did some work (with remote help from Oliver Tappe) in getting the ARM toolchain working on Haiku. The compiler can now be built, and u-boot tools are ported (they are required to build a bootable image that the u(boot bootloader can work with). The build of an ARM version of Haiku still requires a tool to create partitions from the command line, and some scripts changes to use our own mkdos command instead of dosfstools mkdosfs. Ithamar may work on this since he now has installed Haiku on his laptop.

FDT support - François Revol

As part of his work on the PowerPC port, François is working on Flattened Device Tree support. The FDT is a data structure passed by the u-boot bootloader to the booted kernel. It describes the hardware the kernel is running on, and allows to find where are the serial port, frame buffer, keyboard, mass storage, RAM, etc. needed by Haiku. This avoids hardcoding drivers to fixed addresses for these peripherals. Since u(boot is also used on ARM devices, this work will be reused there as well. This will make it easier to port Haiku to more hardware with PPC and ARM chips.

BMenu tracking code rework - Alexandre Deckner

The code in BMenu is one of the most messy parts of the interface kit. Each menu is actually a BWindow, which means it gets its own thread and event loop. As a menu tends to share a lot of data with its submenus, the code is very messy and has a lot of small bugs. Alexandre is reworking this code to use a better solution.

WebPositive service kit network backend - Alexandre Deckner

The Services Kit is another of our past GSoC projects (2010). The plan is to have a full-featured http API for getting information from web services more easily. The kit has been merged into Haiku but is completely undocumented, so it's not seeing much use.

Alexandre started by merging some patches for better https support. He then tested the kit by writing a weather deskbar replicant that makes use of it.

But the core of this work was on the WebPositive broser. The browser currently uses WebKit's default Curl backend. While being the default, this is not used by most WebKit based browsers and has a number of problems with cookies, caching, and https connexions, as well as being quite slow. The idea is to replace this with a backend relying on the services kit, to avoid this problem. This means the cookies and other information will be shared with other applications using the kit.

Debugger improvements - René Gollent

René worked on watchpoints support in Debugger. That's one more step on making it a suitable replacement to GDB.

Stack&Tile fixes, ALE, and more - Clemens Zeidler

Clemens is currently working on his phd at the university of Aukland. The research department has some projects focused on improving user interface interaction. They use Haiku as a prototype for their research, as it is easier to modify things that affect the whole system. You already kow their work as the Stack and Tile support and the Aukland Layout Model.

This year Clemens showed us the Aukland Layout Editor which is a drag and drop tools for laying out an user interface. It can be used at runtime on ALM-based windows to freely alter the layout. Clemens asked each of us to go through a set of test applications to see if we managed to use the feature to make our work more efficient. There is also support for graphically routing events (such as a button click) to actions, in a way similar to the Cortex application. That stuff looks very promising.

Clemens also fixed some Stack and Tile related bugs in Haiku.

fRiSS user interface update - Adrien Destugues

fRiSS is an RSS and ATOM feed reader for Haiku. It just displays news items from your favourite websites in a window or a desktop replicant. fRiSS is available in Haiku as an optional package, and I'm working on improving it.

With the apha 4 release around the corner, I wanted to improve the user interface that was quickly hacked together. I cleaned up the code and improved the drwaing so it looks more like a regular Haiku application. This was finished right in time for the Alpha 4 code freeze, so people installing alpha 4 will get the very latest version of fRiSS.

NetSurf browser improvements - Adrien Destugues

NetSurf is a web browser. Originally developped for RiscOS, it has a focus on being very fast and lightweight. The BeOS port was started by François Revol with the target of replacing NetPositive. His main use for that was using Netsurf as a replicant inside the BeHappy application. this means while the html rendering works very well, the UI shell around it stayed very basic.

My work included adding graphical toolbar buttons, a download window (not saving the file to disk yet !), some event loop fixes to avoid network activity freezig when the UI is not doing anything, and updating the port to the latest sources from NetSurf git tree. I also added the support for automatically stacking windows using Stack&Tile, which removes the need for any in-application tabbing. I hope to see more applications supporting that soon, maybe starting with Terminal.

NetSurf is a very nice browser and much faster than the alternatives on Haiku. Its main drawback is the lack of JavaScript support, but the developpers are actively working on that. I think this browser has some potential for becoming the standard choice in Haiku. It is also much faster to compile than WebPositive with the whole WebKit framework, which makes it a lot easier to improve on it.

One last mention : I also did some work on APlayer, a release should not be too far but there are some issues I'd like to solve first.

The end.

Overall, this was a pretty good coding sprint with lots of stuff going on. We also saw some remote activity as the Alpha 4 release saw his code freeze happen during the week and is now in final testing stage. If all goes well, it will be available on monday.

A Short BeGeistert 025 Report

Blog post by humdinger on Fri, 2012-04-06 05:05

As this was one of the smallest BeGeistert meetings, this report will be quite short as well...

I arrived at the airport on Saturday morning at about 9:15 and made it to the nice location at Düsseldorf's youth hostel at 10 o'clock. After weeks with temperatures up to 20 °C, the good weather took a day off and I made the 10 minute walk from the station "Luegplatz" to the hostel in a very fine drizzle and shivering 10 °C...

Ohio LinuxFest 2011: Another Fun Adventure

Blog post by jprostko on Thu, 2011-09-22 01:52

Mike and Darkwyrm at the tableMike and Darkwyrm at the table

The weekend of September 9th, 2011 marked my third year in attendance at the Ohio LinuxFest (OLF). My friend, Amir, and I arrived in Columbus right around 8 PM that Friday night, and after getting our belongings put away at the Drury hotel, we decided to check out the "20th birthday of the Linux kernel" celebration at the Hyatt hotel. We didn't really know all that many people there, but minutes after arriving, we got chatted up by some people, and I was naturally asked about Haiku right away due to me wearing a Haiku shirt. There were a couple more conversations like this with some other people we met, which was great, as I got to show those individuals Haiku in action the very next day. I also got to talk to some people I knew from Pittsburgh, like klaatu, as well as my friend Vance from our Linux Users' Group, WPLUG. Seeing as I still didn't have my Haiku demonstration machines set up the way I wanted them, Amir and I decided to head back to the hotel shortly later around 9 PM. On the way out, I saw Beth Lynn Eicher (Director of OLF and former Chair of WPULG) wearing her red fedora and I made sure to say hello, not only because she has always been supportive of Haiku and its presence at OLF, but because she has been a good friend over the years.

Back at the hotel I worked on getting the demo machines ready. Initially my plan was to run Haiku natively on my Lenovo Thinkpad X61 and then run Haiku in VirtualBox via Linux Mint 11 on my Lenovo Thinkpad X120e in order to show off the Guest Additions that were done as part of Google Summer of Code 2011 by Mike Smith. I did get that running just fine, except Haiku was running on it quite slowly in virtualization, given that the X120e isn't exactly a powerhouse machine. I decided to scrap showing the VirtualBox Guest Additions on the X120e, and instead just ran Haiku off of a nano USB drive that I had imaged earlier that day. I set up both Haiku machines to basically have the same setup, where we could show off multimedia performance and Haiku-specific strengths. Assuming I have both machines around next year, I'll likely try a different configuration, where I'll run Haiku natively from the X120e and run it virtualized on the X61.

Showing a video and web pageShowing a video and webpage

After being satisfied that the Haiku machines were ready, I finally ended up getting to sleep around 3:15 AM. My alarm went off a couple of hours later, and after getting my shower, I headed off to the Columbus Convention Center. I got the Haiku table set up relatively quickly and awaited attendees to stop by to visit the table. Before things were too far along, a gentleman who was doing security at the event stopped by and told me how he used Haiku on his older machine, and that he loved it. That was great to hear, and I figured it was always good to be on good terms with one of the individuals running security. Rob Ball (Sponsorship Chair) of OLF stopped by early on as well, and made sure that we had electricity and all of our other needs addressed. Right after he left, Beth Lynn Eicher stopped by and we talked a bit, which was cool as I didn't get to talk to her much the night before.

Ohio LinuxFest 2010: Didn't Disappoint

Blog post by darkwyrm on Mon, 2010-09-13 12:15

This weekend was my second year at the Ohio LinuxFest at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus, OH. I arrived at the convention center at about 7:15am. Unlike last year, there was hardly anyone there outside of the OLF staff doing checkin and a few vendors. Joe Prostko was already there, having stayed at a hotel nearby the night before. It was good to see him again. We started talked for a bit and then started getting the table set up. I made sure that we had enough supplies for the table and each of us had brought a demo machine. Joe brought an MSI Wind netbook which was running a nightly build and I brought my Dell Latitude D620 running an almost-stock Alpha 2. Both machines proved to be valuable for demoing different aspects of Haiku that day. Soon enough we started seeing some traffic.

Most of the day itself was spent at the Haiku table talking to convention-goers. I even spoke with some people who I recognized from last year. Unlike last year, my laptop only KDLed once. Wanting to see what the sessions that were offered were like, I spent a little time in the Ubuntu on ARM session, which was quite technical but reasonably interesting. It gave me a clue about what to expect if I were going to speak at a session. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to give a session next year on Haiku. Mike Summers had managed to come, albeit later than last year. He rolled in about 3pm, but it was good to see him again. He might've been late, but his presence was felt, becoming the resident "chick magnet." All of us were surprised by that one. ;-)

The people that come to OLF are always really interesting to talk to and, being fellow open source fanatics, quite receptive to Haiku as an operating system. Many of them are intrigued by Haiku's boot times, feature set in combination with its hardware requirements, lack of an X server, and its unique features like queries and the extensive use of attributes. Joe had the Stack and Tile decorator running on his netbook and everyone who saw that were really impressed, myself included. Only those people who were familiar with BeOS or Haiku were not suprised by the number of movies playing simultaneously without dropping frames. My favorite demo was running 3 videos on one workspace, switching to another workspace to start a lengthy project build with Paladin, and switching back to show how responsive Haiku was even with the CPU maxed out. We've got a great OS here.

Some of the main questions that I ended fielding were about stability, where people could try out Haiku, and what Haiku offered in the way of an office suite. It would seem that right now, according to the conference goers, that having or KOffice or something is quite important. Perhaps someone might be willing to step up and finish the work on Gobe's Productive suite given this thought.

It was a great conference and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Haiku Down Under 2010 Report

Blog post by Sikosis on Sat, 2010-08-28 15:25

Haiku Down Under 2010It was a fine, sunny morning in Brisbane, Australia: home of the Third Annual Haiku Down Under Virtual Conference for Haiku Users and Developers. Virtual in the respect that the event was streamed live over the Internet via the uStream service. We accept (and regret) that this service requires Flash, so you can’t use Haiku to view this event, you must use another OS like Windows, Mac or Linux.

This year, HDU (short for Haiku Down Under; not slang for How Dare yoU) were able to book a conference venue at The University of Queensland with projector, white board and limited seating where myself, Sikosis was joined by BeMark and Mojodale.

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