FOSDEM 2016: more boring shit

Let's take a look at my annotated copy of the FOSDEM 2016 main talk schedule, shall we?


Welcome to FOSDEM 2016
Probably a lie.

systemd and Where We Want to Take the Basic Linux Userspace in 2016
Places we're NOT taking it include "Interoperability City," "Lake Reliability," and "The People's Republic of Sanity".

Putting 8 Million People on the Map:
Revolutionizing crisis response through open mapping tools

Alternate subtitle: "we didn't give a shit about any of these people before we saw them on the news, but look what we can accomplish when we need to feel righteous about our shitty hobbies"

Closing FOSDEM 2016
I think the printer's jammed, we need you guys back at the office


Re-thinking Linux Distributions
...separate the operating system from the content

You know that huge pile of bad software the "devops" people wrote so that they wouldn't have to ever actually install their software? This guy wants to make that the norm. Everywhere.

Beyond reproducible builds
Making the whole free software ecosystem reproducible and then…

The speaker confuses reproducible builds with package signing, then makes a ton of excuses about why his talk summary is meaningless noise.


Cockpit: A Linux Session in your Browser
Except it's not really "a linux session" as much as it is "onboard cpanel shit for people who should not be trusted with computers." Naturally, the strongest evidence that this is a mistake is its inclusion in Fedora by default.

Enterprise desktop at home with FreeIPA and GNOME
A GNOME developer talking about security.

Open-sourcing RIPE Atlas
This isn't "open source" in the "use this how you want" sense. This is the "help us do work for no money" sense.

What Do Code Reviews at Microsoft and in Open Source Projects Have in Common?
Every goddamn thing, to the author's surprise. Formalization of the process doesn't seem to improve anything, it's demonstrably irrelevant which formalized process your team adopts, and the author is "trying to make code review work as expected with my research," which will probably be too dull to be hilarious.

H2O: An Open-Source Platform for Machine Learning and Big Data/Big Math
Setting aside the fact that "machine learning" has yet to prove worthwhile in basically any current implementation, and the fact that "big data" is almost always code for "shitty programmers who ran out of memory," this abhorrent pile of dogshit is intended to strap together a bunch of computers scalemp-style in an attempt to make single-threaded hobby projects relevant. Absolutely disgusting.

Gluster roadmap, recent improvements and upcoming features
Everyone's favorite also-ran clustered filesystem continues thrashing around in irrelevancy, but at least they're spending a lot of time rewriting existing functionality.

Rearchitecting Linux I/O towards Petascale Storage
Treat Linux like a microkernel and push towards a simpler distributed user-space storage architecture.

This one came as something of a surprise, since I've been using linux with multi-petabyte filesystems for many years. Unfortunately, the actual speech seems to be based around a version of Plato's allegory of the cave, but instead of shadows on the wall the speaker sees webshit technology and assumes there is no other reality. Because webshit runs in userspace, POSIX is irrelevant and filesystem i/o should be moved out of the kernel. Yes, the author works on Gluster.


Digital Hardware Design: Why is it still so hard?
The speaker assumes that since FPGAs are getting cheap, all the problems will go away. The fact that all available FPGA development kits are either ruinously expensive or iredeemably shitty does not appear to factor into this.

GNU Radio for Exploring Signals
Talk Hard: A technical, historical, political, and cultural look at FM

Another entry in the "pretentious three-part FOSDEM title" history books. Seems like it could be an interesting talk if it were just about FM radio and less about GNU/crap.

Vulkan in Open-Source
A discussion of the new Vulkan graphics API and its impact on Open-source software

"so much industry momentum" that nobody gives a shit at all! Incedentally, if you've noticed how bad your haswell video support is on linux, this speaker is part of the reason why. Cheers!

Libreboot - free your BIOS today!
Libreboot is free (libre) boot firmware based on coreboot, intended to replace the proprietary BIOS or UEFI firmware. Boot firmware is the low-level software that runs when you turn your computer on, which initializes the hardware and starts a bootloader for your operating system.

Seems like a risky move putting the entire one-hour presentation directly into the talk title, but maybe it'll work out. We'll have to spend less time getting excited that they've finally got around to supporting laptops made a mere six years ago, or that post-Ivy Bridge laptops can never be supported. At least you can install this on your servers, thereby destroying all the useful remote operations shit that might have otherwise made your life easier!


Free communications with Free Software
Is there any credible way to build a trustworthy communications platform without using free software?

The answer to this has always been "yes, as long as you're willing to sign an NDA before getting audit access to the code." The talk, predictably, has nothing to do with this question, instead focusing on handwaving an open-source software that everybody already uses.

Building a peer-to-peer network for Real-Time Communication
Can a true peer-to-peer architecture, with no central point of control, be a universal and secure solution?

Bonus answer: why the fuck would anyone pay for the infrastructure under these circumstances

Open Source IoT Cloud

Javascript bullshit, written in canonical node.js style: vendoring every single piece of software the authors have ever seen, shoving it all in one huge list of shit, insisting you install multiple docker images to run it, and then calling it all "lean" and "highly-optimized." What does it actually do? Take network requests and perform database operations. That's it.


RocksDB Storage Engine for MySQL
LSM databases at Facebook

Facebook figured out InnoDB sucks. Unfortunately, they're so rich that writing another database backend seemed like a good idea. Oh well.

How to design a Linux kernel API
No, the speaker has never designed a kernel API. He just writes books about them, and asks for money in exchange for "training" about them. I really don't understand why there is a talk here aimed at kernel developers, since they already have a mailing list, and their own conferences, and firmly-entrenched opinions on the topic.

Baobáxia - the Galaxy of Baobab Trees
Connecting off-line Afro-Brazilian communities with free software

some webshit thinks you can solve social problems with git


The Future of OpenDocument (ODF)
Maintaining the Momentum

Ah, this must be the sort of "momentum" that Vulkan experiences. In practice, an ODF document means one thing: the user downloaded OpenOffice and forgot to save in Word format. Good news, though! A quick email should be enough to get them to re-save it and send it to you.

Scaling and Securing LibreOffice Online
caging, taming and go-faster-striping a big beast of an office suite

In which it is revealed that their fake version of Office365 is wildly resource-hungry and subject to crippling security problems. At the end of the presentation, everyone who is surprised by this information will be given a Mac and a job at Facebook.

Systems Administration

Rspamd - fast opensource spam filter
The Don Quixote of FOSDEM 2016. This speaker is attempting to speak to conference attendees about one of the lost arts of the internet: email that is not hosted by Google. He tries to make it interesting for the typical FOSDEM attendee by tossing terms like "http" and "json" into his slide deck, but then he ruins it all with technical discussion of hash algorithms and abstract syntax trees. If he just renamed the project "" and gave the talk wearing jeans and a sport coat, Paul Graham would give him eighteen million dollars.

Applying band-aids over security wounds with systemtap
A data-modification-based approach for fixing the unfixable.

Last year I made fun of the systemtap team for their desperate attempts to seem relevant. This year they're back, and it's even worse. In 2015 there was a linux kernel vulnerability that had to do with a specific variable being signed instead of unsigned. Our team patched the kernel and redeployed and we were fine within hours. Red Hat's official "Band-aid" for several weeks was to use systemtap to bitwise-AND the value with INT_MAX, during runtime, on every boot of every computer. I tell this story to systems administrators as an example of how shitty Red Hat security responses are. Now they are giving a talk about how wonderful it is.

How to run a telco on free software
The network transformation with OPNFV

The second theoretical talk at FOSDEM: the speaker does not work in the telco field. Presumably this talk is a sales pitch for all those telecom executives at FOSDEM. Tons of those.


How containers work in Linux
an introduction to NameSpaces and Cgroups

An introductory howto for people who actually want to know how to use the features their operating systems provide. Presumably scheduled after lunch on Sunday to give the engorged web crowd somewhere to sleep. I suppose it's possible that this talk is presented as a curiosity, but then it would have been titled "What people do in a real conference" or something.

Micro-datacenter with Raspberry Pi and Kubernetes
Let's play real chaos monkeys!

In this talk, the speaker brags about Kubernetes fault tolerance by unplugging several shitty computers from a cluster of shitty computers. It is not mentioned that Kubernetes is sufficient for this task: it will generate its own faults regardless of what hardware you run it on.

Live Migration of Virtual Machines From the Bottom Up
Amit Shah finally gets around to explaining why QEMU live migration used to work fine and now it completely sucks.