Fosdem 2016 – I was there

Questo articolo è stato scritto oltre 1 years, il contenuto potrebbe essere datato.

Also this year I went to Fosdem but I did not follow only the talks but I have also worked on the management of the stand.

Let’s step back.

The Fosdem was a way to meet old friends as well as other Italian mozillian.

I could name a few as Elio or Michael but with the Mozillians the name in this case is secondary because we are many.

Saturday has been a busy day because Mozilla had dedicated devroom well as running the stand but very interesting.

The first talk that i have followed was Building add-ons for Firefox with WebExtensions.

I leave some of my note on this talk:

The actual Firefox API for developing addon has several problems such as the use of internal APIs that can create problems between releases and the other in extensions, the documentation is incomplete for the same reasons and is very different from  other browsers.

So WebExtension aim to create an API on top of the inner Firefox, compatible with that of Chrome and Opera, with enhanced stability and that over time will be expanded with specific functionality of Firefox.

The official release will be in Firefox 48 probably, even now you can create and publish addon that use the new API to addons.mozilla.org.

The next talk was The use of OpenSource software in Mozilla.

Mozilla has 3 data centers in addition to AWS for its infrastructure and the IT department we are working on 40-50 persons.

The servers are used for the building of the various programs (requires a lot of computing power), telemetry (crash reports, feedback, updates) for the sites and for the internal network.

Mozilla uses mostly Red Hat on the servers and relies on Puppet for synchronization between servers between svn and git updated every 5 minutes, Ansible for configuration synchronization between the various routers, firewall and files and even Chef (has not been specified why is used).

To monitor the entire network Mozilla use a mix of software and services such as Pingdom, New Relic, Wangguard, Pagerduty and Nagios.

Next was How Your Data Helps to Improve Firefox (slide here).

These data follow the principles of the Mozilla privacy: control by users, limited data and voluntary submission.

At the same time Mozilla has two ways to get telemetry data that is passive and active.

The passive method across upgrades, so information is sent as the operating system, version, language etc. or by blocklist addon in order to identify the plugin to update.

Instead the active method is voluntary and is activated by Firefox settings (I invite you to do so) to Settings -> Advanced -> Data Sharing.

In this way Mozilla receives information such as reports, SSL errors crash in addition to telemetry data that you can view on the about: telemetry while on https://telemetry.mozilla.org/ you can view data collected by Mozilla for the public.

Furthermore, the same system is used to enable the experimental features to a part of its users to collect data.

An HTTP/2 update (slides here) was helpful in understanding the news clearly by the same author of cURL, in a nutshell asynchronous, multiple requests and compression of information.

Firefox Performance Monitoring (slides here) instead explained the new system to recognize the Firefox addon or pages that slow Firefox. This system is already operating but still lacks all the part UI.

Automated UI testing on FXOS instead explained how automated tests for Firefox OS (even in the Firefox UI are made). The talk contained some information as Gaia receiving commit 100 per day while Gecko 300.

The last talk that I followed was WebIDL: the language of Web APIs that was really interesting and I want to investigate to learn more about the W3C documentation.

The second day I followed only the very interesting interview with Richard Stallman which gave me some ideas for the realization of articles about the Open Source licenses.

The funny part was that he did not want to be interrupted by the interviewer and if someone asked a question with the wrong terms he interrupted him to explain where he had been wrong and then he did take back.

The rest of the event I spent doing shopping, doing promotion at the Mozilla booth, meeting old friends and making many chats with the other volunteers.

What I learned from this event?

Compared to the Mozilla Festival in November I saw that my English has improved but I need to practice listening indirect, that is, if I get distracted doing something else I can not follow the speech.

Meet fellow volunteers is always interesting to understand how the other community and learn and improve themselves.

The gadgets available unfortunately were not as beautiful as last year except the LibreOffice’s hoodie that are over now (I have already threatened the Italian volunteers that next time they have to put one a part for me).

I was sorry the absence of the stand of OwnCloud and Tor.

For those who want to recover the talk started with loading the talk of video.fosdem.org.

The thing I’ll remember most is the hug between people of the KDE and Gnome stand. Because the flames are fun but we make them only online and not in live.

I leave the Storify with all my tweets and those related to the event that I liked.

Ci vediamo al prossimo evento!
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