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OSL Newsletter - April 2011

OSL Newsletter - April 2011

The OSL Team and Our Host, David Recordon, at Facebook's Prineville Data Center

We've been spending the past few weeks making our plans for the summer: specing out longer term projects for our student employees, sharing our knowledge at conferences and continuing our mission to grow and support the world of open source. While we're busy looking forward and reviewing our progress thus far for 2011, we thought it would be the perfect time to bring the community an update on what we've been up to for the past few months since our last newsletter. If you'd like to receive more frequent news updates from the OSL, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Before we share our good news, we want to take a moment to express our sincerest thanks to our sponsors. Without the support of our generous donors, the OSL would not be able to provide support and services to our hosted communities. If you or your company would like to join our list of supporters, please visit our Donations information page.

It's always wonderful to see the successes of the OSL's alums, and we've seen many of our former student employees go on to great things: founding their own startups, opening boutique consulting shops and landing roles at high profile open source companies like Mozilla. We're particularly proud of one of the lab's first student employees, Alex Polvi, whose company Cloudkick was recently acquired by Rackspace. In true open source fashion, Alex has given back to the lab through his Silver sponsorship of the OSL and sharing his infectious enthusiasm for our plans to create open source boot camps at Oregon State University. Many thanks to Alex for his support and our best wishes for all his future endeavors.

Our friends at the CiviCRM project have once again joined us as Bronze sponsors for 2011. One of the best parts of our job at the OSL is providing support to the many open source projects that empower other organizations to do their good work, and CiviCRM does just that by providing constituent management software for advocacy, non-profit and non-governmental groups. We are proud to host CiviCRM and send our thanks to them for their continued support.

Finally, a great big thank you to Google. Google has renewed their Platinum sponsorship in the lab for 2011, continuing their tradition of support for the lab since its inception. Google has donated more than one million dollars to the OSL and we are grateful for their generous support and the opportunity to participate in its open source programs for students, Google Summer of Code and Google Code-In.

Facebook, the OSL and Supercell

The entire OSL crew was recently invited to tour Facebook's Open Compute Data Center in Prineville, Oregon. Needless to say, it was an incredible experience for the team. You can read all about our adventure and see more photos from the data center on the OSL news page.

You may recall our recent announcement of the Supercell project, our new on demand virtualization and continuous integration resource, made possible by a generous grant from Facebook's Open Source Team. Our early testers are up and running on Supercell and our first report from the field has come in from the Drupal project. You can learn more about Drupal's use of Supercell on the blog of their stalwart Infrastructure Team member, Randy Fay.

Developers Paradise

Photo Credit: Nik Cubrilovic

Developer News

We released the 0.6 version of Ganeti Web Manager in early March. This latest release included several new features to support users of Supercell. You can read all about the latest release of GWM on the blog of our Lead Developer, Peter Krenesky.

Events and Conferences

We're looking forward to conference season going into full swing, and we're excited to let you know that OSL employees will be speaking at several upcoming events.

LinuxCon NA 2011

Our friends at The Linux Foundation have asked us to put together sessions on Linux and open source for university students at the upcoming LinuxCon North America Conference. Dubbed "Linux Learners Day," the track will feature sessions on Fundamentals of Open Source, Linux Basics and Embedded Systems. Keep your eye out for further announcements from the Linux Foundation for the full schedule and spread the word to any university students you think should join us! (And while you're at it, check out their two awesome design contests on right now to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Linux, either on video or emblazoned on cotton.)

Open Source Conferences in Portland

Portland is the town for open source conferences, and we're excited that our employees will be speaking at the two preeminent events in Portland this year. We hope to see you there!

Open Source Bridge: Tim Harder, Analyst Programmer at the OSL, will be speaking on OSWALD: Lessons from and for the Open Hardware Movement

OSCON: Lance Albertson, Lead Architect/Systems Administrator and Peter Krenesky, Lead Developer, will be presenting their tutorial Hands-on Virtualization with Ganeti. They will also be giving a talk on Ganeti Web Manager: Cluster Management Made Simple.

Southeast LinuxFest

Our Open Source Outreach Manager, Leslie Hawthorn, will return to South Carolina in June for Southeast LinuxFest. She will be speaking on one of her favorite topics, "Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software: Saving the World One Bit at a Time." Stay tuned to the SELF website for more details.

Past Speaking Engagements

You may recall our March post about all the upcoming speaking engagements and conference travel for our team. If you are interested in news from some of these events, here's a select sample from our travels:

You may also be interested in hearing more about our talks at the Palmetto Open Source Conference or our visit to the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. And don't forget to check out the highlights from our bi-annual Beaver BarCamp!

Welcome to Our New Hosted Communities

We've had five new projects join the OSL since our last newsletter:

  • crosstool-ng, a software suite that helps build toolchains,
  • The Open Compute Project, a community site by Facebook to share innovations data center design,
  • Project Harmony, a community-centered group focused on contributor agreements for free and open source software,
  • Python Mentors, the community portal for the Python-Core mentorship project
  • QEMU, a generic and open source machine emulator and virtualizer.

Please join us in welcoming our latest hosted communities!

Student Interviews Series

We launched a series of interviews with the OSL's student employees in January 2011, and we've published four interviews thus far in the series. If you haven't had the opportunity to check them out, they're a wonderful way to learn more about every day life at the OSL and how our students are gaining real-world experience to prepare them for careers in industry. For your weekend reading pleasure, we present these interviews, penned by the lab's Student Writer, Anthony Casson:

We've recently hired a new crop of students at the OSL, and we look forward to bringing you their stories in the coming months.

Sharing Stories

We're excited to share all this great news with the community, but we want to hear from you. What stories from the OSL would you like to hear? What's going on in our hosted communities that we ought to be communicating to the wider OSL community? Send your thoughts to us on Twitter, Facebook or by email to Leslie Hawthorn at leslie at osuosl dot org

OSL Newsletter

This newsletter contains updates of recent events at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. We will continue to publish newsletters every 3-6 months in the future. Newsletters will be posted to our website as well as sent out to an email list. If you'd like to receive newsletters via email, please sign up at

Revelations from Rob

Revelations from Rob

Ed. Note: You may recall our recent interviews with student developers Corbin Simpson and Trevor Bramwell, as well as our interview with student systems administrator Mike Cooper. This week, we're bringing you an interview with Rob McGuire-Dale, another of the Lab's student developers. Rob was kind enough to share his thoughts with us through an interview with Anthony Casson, the Lab's student writer. Stay tuned for more interviews with our students in the coming weeks.

The Eternal College Tradition - Road Trip!
Rob in Death Valley, courtesy of Elizabeth Trautman

How long have you worked with the OSL, and what brought you here?

I started working at the Open Source Lab in December 2008. I had recently discovered the social ideas behind open source, and I liked the idea of a free flow of information and ideas, and contributing to something for the "greater good" as opposed to personal gain. Working at the OSL sounded like an excellent opportunity to explore this new-found interest. Since then, open source has become a personal passion, and an important part of my life.

What projects are you working on now? What consumed most of your time in the past?

I'm currently working on Ganeti Web Manager, a web interface and advanced permission control system for Google's Ganeti virtual server cluster management tool. Previously, I was one of the main developers for Touchscreen, an interactive kiosk framework written entirely with web-based technologies. Last July, Peter Krenesky and I gave a talk on Touchscreen at Open Source Bridge, an open source conference in Portland. I've also been a part of several Drupal-based projects for the web sites of GOSCON (Government Open Source Conference), the Open Source Lab, and the County of Polk, Oregon.

Did the OSL experience help you with your Boeing internship?

My experience gained from the Open Source Lab absolutely helped with my work during my internship with Boeing. The OSL taught me a lot about working on collaborative, team-based software engineering projects, as well as giving me experience with working within open source communities. Through my work at the OSL, I learned how to use utilize project management software, revision control systems, and various forms of communication tools to effectively work with others to complete project tasks. I was able to utilize these skills to work well with my team at Boeing.

Is open source your future? What are your plans?

Open source is most definitely in my future. I strongly believe in the vast benefits open source has to offer to the greater community, both in the public and private sectors of society. I plan on continuing to contribute to open source for as long as I can. In addition to my planned contributions to independent and personal projects, I also plan on getting more involved in Boeing's internal open source group, exploring open source opportunities within the Peace Corps and HFOSS (Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software), and staying involved with the OSL.

Many thanks to Anthony and Rob for this interview!

Visiting Prineville: OSL Tours Facebook's Open Compute Data Center

Visiting Prineville: OSL Tours Facebook's Open Compute Data Center

If you've been following the news, you've likely heard of the Open Compute Project, Facebook's project to build the most efficient data center at the lowest possible cost and to share their knowledge with other companies. Last Friday, Facebook opened the doors of their Prinveille, Oregon data center, inviting a host of dignitaries and members of the press to tour this newly opened facility and learn more about the Open Compute Project. The Open Source Lab crew was fortunate enough to be invited to join this august group for a tour thanks to David Recordon, Facebook's Senior Open Programs Manager.

Little Known Fact: The Prineville data center is actually powered by gnomes.

We kicked off the day with opening ceremonies, including introductions by several of Facebook's senior staff, members of the Oregon Legislature and the Mayor of Prineville, Betty Ropple. Finishing off the morning's event, Mayor Ropple and Facebook's staff pushed a gigantic "Like" button on the opening of the data center.

There's so much "Like" going on in this photo that you can't even see the button through the glow.

We had a bit of down time before our actual tour began, so we chilled out in the facility's game room and enjoyed playing Xbox together.

A little Halo, anyone?

And since we wanted to be great guests, our students also fixed one of the displays that was offline when we arrived.

How many sys admins does it take to fix a display? At least four.

Among the many amazing things we saw on the tour, we were treated to the first design spec ever created for the data center.

Preliminary electrical specification for the Prineville facility, created late one night on a napkin.

Following the tour, we were treated to an evening of dinner and music in an enormous party tent. It was particularly exciting to meet so many members of the Prineville community and hear what a positive impact the data center's creation has had on the local economy. Sadly, we missed seeing Mark Zuckerberg due to a long drive back to the office, but the rest of the day more than made up for it.

You can read more about the facility on Lance Albertson's blog, or check out Greg Lund-Chaix's post on our visit. For more photos, check out Leslie Hawthorn and Lance Albertson's albums on Flickr. Many thanks once again to David and Facebook for having us!

The OSL is pleased to host

Highlights from Beaver BarCamp 7

Highlights from Beaver BarCamp 7

The Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University experienced an influx of creativity on Saturday during Beaver BarCamp 7 (BBC7), hosted by the OSU Open Source Lab, the Open Source Education Lab and the Oregon State Linux Users Group. Dozens of people gathered for the annual event, which brings various personalities together to discuss a variety of topics.

Session Schedule at BBC7

The topics themselves don’t always follow the open source path, but each offers its own helpful information—BBC7 had a collection of intriguing discussions. OSL employees gave presentations throughout the eight-hour event, including introductions to Linux Administration, Python, and Django. For the final presentation of the day, the OSL hosted a “Hack Fest” for attendees interested in OSL projects. Those who participated received a project introduction, led by OSL employees.

Lance Albertson and Greg Lund-Chaix Lead a Session at BBC7

Each presentation, given by whoever volunteered to discuss a particular topic, lasted 50 minutes. Attendees selected their six sessions by using a simple grid board with sticky notes giving details about the discussions; anyone and everyone was free to post a topic. A list of some of the presentations is below:

  • Web Marketing
  • Introduction to Blender
  • World Domination: Getting More Women into STEM
  • Many more!

You can check out Tweets from the unconference and photos on Flickr. If you haven't yet shared your photos from the event, please remember to tag them with "beaverbarcamp".

BBC takes place twice yearly, so plan on BBC8 sometime in mid-October 2011. If you'd like to keep up with all things Beaver BarCamp, you can follow @beaverbarcamp on Twitter or join our Facebook group.

The OSL and Google Summer of Code 2011

The OSL and Google Summer of Code 2011

We've been accepted to participate as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2011, and we're thrilled to be welcomed back again this year. Our suggested Summer of Code projects this year focus on Ganeti Web Manager and other underlying pieces of technology to power Supercell, our newly announced on demand virtualization and continuous integration resource for open source projects. We're excited to have students help us fine tune the cluster and related tools during this early-alpha testing phase, and even more excited that our students will have a hand in helping us roll this service out to the wider open source community.

You can read more about the Open Source Lab and our participation in Google Summer of Code 2011 on the blog of our fabulous Project Manager, Greg Lund-Chaix.