Tuesday, 3 February 2015

FOSDEM 2015 - part I

It's that time of the year when experts of Open Source software meet in frosty Brussels for two intense days of talks, conversations, and a good quantity of beer: FOSDEM.

Being just 2 hours away from London with the Eurostar, the relevance/effort ratio is very high. Additionally, the event is free and held over the weekend, so it has a low impact on the normal job activity (although on the other hand it does have some on your family time, but you can't have everything, unless your kids are big enough to join you, which I'd recommend).

Right after settling down in a lovely flat (AirBnB is a great choice) with three friends I started planning the sessions to follow. There are about twenty parallel sessions, so you must cherry pick. For day 1 I was oriented towards Configuration Management and Lightning Talks tracks. Day 2 had Virtualisation and Testing And Automation in my radar.

As it turns out, FOSDEM is such a success that the rooms are filled incredibly fast and many have even long queues outside. It was definitely the case for the Configuration Management dev room, which I had to skip in favour of Infrastructure As A Service.

So I got a basic understanding of Apache Mesos, for resource management of distributed systems, and GlusterFS, a distributed file system and general-purpose storage platform.
Apache Mesos will come back to attention on Day 2, when I'll learn more about CoreOS Rocket for container orchestration (more on this on a following post).

This year there wasn't any track dedicated to RTC (Real Time Communication), but nevertheless the topic was around a lot (not to mention the Internet Of Things track, which I gather has been very successful).


The Python devroom though offered an interesting cross between Python and WebRTC, with Saúl's "Python, WebRTC and you" (slides here). As the reader may know already, WebRTC doesn't mandate a signalling protocol, so this talk has been a good opportunity to show how conceptually easy is to interact with WebRTC's APIs (using rtcninja as wrapper), while at the same time managing signalling between browsers with a combination of Python3 and asyncio.

This talk alone, from a teaching perspective, is very valuable. You can see:
- The power of WebRTC: as long as the browser is compatible, you're just a few dozens of lines of code away from a new application.
- You can use the web server you prefer: web content servicing and signalling are just tools around the RTC.
- Unless you need some complex feature, you can leverage pure P2P and remove the server infrastructure from the equation.
- WebSocket support is increasing [1], making the life of WebRTC architects easier.

Of course things get more complicated for multiparty conferences, but there's something about this on a following post.

[1] The popular node.js platform has an ad-hoc module for WebSocket support too. I wrote about it and its usage inside a docker container in a previous post.


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