GNU devroom at FOSDEM Brussels 2011

Hacking GNU at FOSDEM.

The Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) is a two-day event organized by volunteers to promote the widespread use of Free and Open Source software.

This year the GNU Project will be present with a development room. The goal of the devroom is to promote discussion on the advancement of the GNU coding standards and maintainers guidelines as well as the packages implementing them, and strengthen the community of maintainers and developers.

If you plan to join us at FOSDEM please tell us at

Date and Location

Date: Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 February 2011.

GNU devroom date: Saturday 5th February from 13:00 to 19:00

Location: Brussels (Belgium)

Who's coming


  • Jose E. Marchesi (GNU PDF, GNU recutils, GNU Ferret).
  • Karsten Gerloff (FSFE).
  • Brian Gough (GNU Scientific Library).
  • Simon Josefsson (SASL, Libidn, GSS, Shishi, GnuTLS).
  • Andy Wingo (Guile).
  • Ralf Wildenhues (GCC, Libtool, Autoconf).
  • Ole Tange (GNU Parallel).
  • Rodrigo Rodrigues da Silva. TBC.
  • Aleksander Morgado (GNU PDF).
  • Bastien Guerry (org-mode).
  • Giuseppe Scrivano (GNU myserver, Gnuzilla, wget).
  • Matthias Kirschner (FSFE).
  • Henrik Sandklef (GNU xnee).
  • Luca Saiou (GNU epsilon).
  • Carsten Dominik (org-mode).
  • Ludovic Courtès (Guile).
  • Daiki Ueno (Emacs, GnuTLS).
  • Neal H. Walfield (GNU Hurd).

TBC = to be confirmed


This year we will be go for a GNU dinner both Friday and Saturday.

  • Friday
    Restaurant Les Feux de Bengale
    Rue des Eperonniers 69
    Brussels 1000
    Tel. 02.513.51.63
  • Saturday

    No information yet. Send your suggestion to


This is the schedule for the GNU devroom. Please see below for more information about the talks and the speakers.

13:0040 minBastien GuerryOrg-mode for Emacs : your life in plain text.
14:0040 minAndy WingoDynamic hacking with Guile.
15:0030 minOle TangeGNU Parallel - the command line power tool.
15:4030 minRalf WildenhuesGNU Autotools.
16:2030 minSimon JosefssonGNU Network Security Labyrinth.
17:0030 minKarsten GerloffPower, Freedom, Software.
17:4030 minMatthias KirschnerNon-free software advertisement – presented by your government.
18:2030 minJose E. MarchesiGNU recutils: your data in plain text.

The talks

Org-mode for Emacs: your life in plain text

By Bastien Guerry.

Org-mode is an Emacs mode for keeping notes, maintaining TODO lists, doing project planning and authoring with a fast and effective plain-text system.

In this talk, I'll go through existing core features (the organizer, the exporters, the Babel library) and present examples of real use. I will also list possible contributions (exporters, libraries to interact with online organizers, bug tracking tools, etc.) and mention hard problems to solve, the hardest one being to make Org suitable for collaborative project planning.

Finally, I'll give an overview of Org's history and community, with some ideas on how to sustain this great project.

Dynamic hacking with Guile

By Andy Wingo.

I'll start by giving my standard propaganda schtick about guile, and how it can make hacking GNU more like hacking lisp machines. I'll go on like that for about 15 minutes.

In the latter 15 minutes I'll do some live hacking. I think what I'd like to show would be live-hacking a web application through emacs and geiser, in which I show what it's like to hack on a running application, what it's like to hack the web in sxml, how to make new bindings to C functions without restarting the process, things like that.

GNU Parallel - the command line power tool

By Ole Tange.

Demo of what you can do with GNU Parallel - loosely based on

GNU Autotools

By Ralf Wildenhues.

The GNU Autotools provide a source code build system portable to various different environments. This talk reviews some of the recent developments and highlights a few tips and tricks for users.

GNU Network Security Labyrinth

By Simon Josefsson.

I will talk about the network application security technologies SASL, Kerberos, GSS-API and TLS on a general level. I'll give an overview of the GNU implementations of these protocols. Focus will be on how the protocols and implementations interact with each other, and how you as application writer can use them.

Power, Freedom, Software. Why we need to divide and re-conquer our systems

By Karsten Gerloff.

The GNU project to create a Free Software operating system has been a resounding success, giving millions of people around the world the freedom to use, study, share and improve the programs on their computers. "Cloud computing" and software as a service present new challenges for the Free Software movement. As more people every day use computers controlled by someone else, how do we win back our freedom? How do we translate the ideals behind the GNU project into this changing world?

Instead of giving all the answers, the goal of this talk is to get you asking the right questions.

Non-free software advertisement – presented by your government

By Matthias Kirschner.

What would you think about a sign on the highway saying “You need a Volkswagen to drive on this road. Contact your Volkswagen dealer for a gratis test drive – Your Government”? When it comes to software that opens PDF files, many public sector organisations do this every day.

With the campaign FSFE has turned the spotlight on government organisations who behave in this way, exposing how frequent such advertisements for non-free software are. With the help of activists across Europe, FSFE contacted these organisations and explained them how to improve their websites so that they respect our freedom.

Why did FSFE choose this topic? How was the campaign organised? What has the Belgium's Prime Minister or the German Federal Criminal Police Office replied to our letters? How successful was the campaign?

GNU recutils: your data in plain text

By Jose E. Marchesi.

GNU Recutils is a set of tools and libraries to access human-editable, text-based databases called recfiles. The data is stored as a sequence of records, each record containing an arbitrary number of named fields.

The talk will introduce the rec format and how can it be used to store medium sized databases with data integrity. A little demo will follow showing the recutils in action.

The speakers

Bastien Guerry

I'm the employee of the french Wikimedia chapter1. I've been involved in the free software movement for the last ten years, and I co-founded OLPC France2 back in 2008. My background education is in philosophy and cognitive sciences.

After a few years of contribution to Org-mode, Carsten Dominik invited me to take over maintainance.

Karsten Gerloff

Karsten Gerloff is a Free Software activist and analyst. As FSFE's President since June 2009, he leads FSFE's strategy development and execution, as well as the organisation's policy work at the European institutions and the United Nations. He focuses on topics such as Free Software, Open Standards, copyright, patents and competition policy. His central interest is in all aspects of the question of how we as a society manage our knowledge and communication.

Jose E. Marchesi

Jose E. Marchesi is a long-term GNU activist. In 1999, he founded GNU Spain, and he later assisted in the creation of GNU Italy and GNU Mexico. His experience in GNU software maintainership cover GNU gv (up to 2007), GNU Ghostscript (up to 2006), GNU Ferret, GNU PDF and GNU recutils. He also performs what he calls "random works" in the GNU Project, such as writing internal code and editing Web pages as needed. He develop his professional work in the Space sector, writing software for the European Space Agency.

Simon Josefsson

Simon Josefsson is the GNU maintainer of SASL, Libidn, GSS, Shishi and GnuTLS.

Andy Wingo

Andy Wingo is the co-maintainer of GNU Guile, the Scheme interpreter.

Ralf Wildenhues

Ralf Wildenhues is a scientific computing math PhD student who got fed up writing dependency tracking rules in makefiles portable to several systems and compilers, and ended up co-maintaining Automake, Libtool, and the GCC build system.

Ole Tange

Ole Tange has worked as Hostmaster for .dk, as a security consultant, as network admin, as site reliablility engineer, as developer and is now working as a bioinformatician. He has worked with UNIX since 1991, GNU/Linux since 1992, and in 1996 he deleted his Microsoft Windows partition. His phone has been running free software since 2008. He has done lots of presentations on security, Free Software, and IT political issues (such as software patents) – both for the general public and to polticians. He is best know as the person behind the original "The Patented Webshop" ( illustrating software patents in a typical webshop.

Matthias Kirschner

Matthias is FSFE's Fellowship Coordinator and the Coordinator of the German team. After being FSFE's first intern in 2004, he continued to work for FSFE as a volunteer. In 2009 he finished his diploma thesis on "IT coordination in the Superior Federal Administration", and started working full time for FSFE. Amoungst other policy work, Matthias is or was in charge the "I love Free Software" campaign, the "Ask your candidates" campaign for the German Federal Election in 2009, and the Free Software PDF Readers campaign

Accomodation for GNU Hackers

Many of the attending hackers will be stopping at the Astrid Hotel, located in Zaterdagplein 11, 1000 Brussels, Belgium.

Further information

General travel and accomodation information are on the FOSDEM webpage at

Questions? Ask on the mailing list at

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