• The OSL at PyCon

    The month of June opened with the annual Pycon event at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, the largest annual gathering for the Python community. This year, the OSL had the opportunity to send one of its own. Matthew Johnson presented a poster on Pymesync, a tool of Python.

    But first, what exactly do all these Py- words mean?

    Python is a programming language that is easy to read, write, and understand. This simplicity saves developers hours of work. Even beginner programmers can learn it with ease, at least at the most basic level. However, even the simplest of languages are complex in their own right and a program like Python needs to be streamlined. That's where Pymesync comes in.

    Pymesync is an application programming interface (API) library for Timesync, a time-tracking API. Both were developed and are used here at the lab.

    For just a little more context, an API is a tool that helps build software and applications. It's comprised of preset functions that are commonly used by programmers so they don't have to continuously enter in certain codes. Most commonly, it comes in the form of an API library, such as Pymesync. This is where explicit code is simplified to make large tasks easier. A time-tracking API essentially tracks when a certain task is done. In other words, Pymesync is designed to simplify the process of talking to Timesync. PymeSync allows a developer to communicate with TimeSync using simple Python method calls and Python native data structures.

    This was the basis of Matthew's poster presentation. With the most experience in Python and Pymesync here at the lab, he was the most qualified to accompany the poster to the sold-out event. While the variety of subjects was extensive, many of the attendees were beginner or intermediate users. Pymesync is a fairly basic application, but the combination of demographic and prime real estate (right in front of the doors) made the poster a hit! Matthew said, "I was talking to crowds of people at different points and I never stopped talking the full three hours." We couldn't have asked for a better first experience with PyCon and hopefully next year we'll be able to send more people to give poor Matthew's voice a break!

  • Congratulations 2016 Graduates!

    As exciting as the end of the school year is for everyone, and with it the promise of sun, no classes, shorts, extended vacations, and no classes, it also brings an inevitable goodbye to those leaving to enter the real world.

    I'm talking about our graduating seniors. Those who have earned their stripes and are ready to move on. The superstars stepping up to take the stage. The brave few willing to begin paying off their student loans. Many of our graduates have spent multiple years working for the OSL, some starting not long after high school. And we're losing too many good ones this year, including:


    Megan Goosens-Developer

    Anthony Miller-Student Systems Engineer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

    Elsie Phillips-Project Manager

    Sean Rettig-Student Systems Engineer

    Lucy Wyman-Front End Engineer

    As sad as we are to see them go, we're so proud of everything our students have accomplished and hope they only excel in their futures.

    Word on the street is the feeling is mutual. Lucy Wyman says, "Graduating is incredibly bittersweet, and the OSL is far and away the most valuable experience I've had in college." The OSL is dedicated to mentoring its students beyond the classroom. But their fresh eyes and innovation cannot be stressed enough. While they learn from us, we're learning from them as well. Their experience is just as valuable to us as we are to them.

    We wish all our graduates the best of luck in their post Oregon State plans as we wave a final farewell. Congratulations on your success!


    Within the last several years, the OSL has provided a home for the Real-Time Executive for Multiprocessor System, or RTEMS. RTEMS is an open Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) that supports both open application programming interfaces (API) and interfacing standards such as Berkeley sockets. Basically, RTEMS supports the embedded systems in programs, or the combinations of software and hardware designed to do very specific tasks. RTEMS works in spaceflight, medical devices, and more. For a while, RTEMS was developed and hosted by a corporation named OAR where it was continuously developed by its programmers, however the project was lacking a certain amount of IT expertise. Enter the fateful meeting between RTEMS developers and our very own Lance Albertson at a Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit.


    Think of this story as though RTEMS grew up and left home, let’s say for college. After over twenty years living at home (the OAR offices) and multiple complications that led to the RTEMS project and its community being offline for extended periods of time, the need to move out was clear. But, as we all know and hate, moving out isn’t an easy process, especially when you don’t have a place to go. RTEMS’ parents (or the engineers) are embedded real-time software engineers, which is perfect for a Real-Time Executive for Multiprocessor System, but RTEMS needed exposure to other things, in this case IT guys. Because of this, RTEMS’ growth (or it’s IT setup) was stunted. Think of it as the difference between having your parents dress you for picture day and having your cool aunt dress you for picture day. Both are going to think you look great, but only one is going to be right. But then, at a “parents” weekend (the GSoC Mentor Summit), RTEMS’ parents met Lance Albertson, our own director. Finally, RTEMS had a place to go. Since the move, RTEMS’ old friend buildbot has moved in and shares a space with RTEMS, and a new friend, NTPsec (Network Time Protocol secure), has also joined the lab. Sharing the OSL technical expertise mean these projects receive world class network performance. Though the road was long and harrowing, RTEMS finally has a home here at the OSL.


    Now that RTEMS is settled into its new home, the RTEMS community is looking to expand and develop its networks and projects with the support of the OSL. What makes RTEMS so special, particularly with big names like NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is its ability to stand up to the test of time. With projects with lifespans of ten to thirty years, RTEMS needed an infrastructure that could reflect their own hard work. In this way, our relationship with RTEMS has been both fruitful for our developers in learning the techniques for RTEMS’ particular projects, but also beneficial for RTEMS as a way to satisfy their own projects in ways their developers weren’t able.

  • CASS and the AllSeen Alliance

    Oregon State University has joined the world’s technology leaders — including LG, Microsoft, and Qualcomm — to advance the collaborative development of the Internet of Things (IoT).

    IoT is a network of devices that exchange information — anything from from smaller devices like watches to full-scale “smart cities.” IoT devices are almost too numerous to count, including light bulbs, air vents, watches, speakers, parking monitors and mirrors. The number of connected devices is predicted to increase by another 30 percent in 2016, according to Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company.

    In order for all of these devices to connect and communicate seamlessly there needs to be a common underlying technology. OSU is part of the AllSeen Alliance, a coalition of over 200 companies and technical supporters that is developing standard interfaces for IoT projects.

    OSU’s Center for Applied Systems and Software (CASS) became interested in IoT as a key technology for the student employees to master. CASS’s expertise in open source technologies — source code that is open to the public to improve and change — was the basis for the collaboration with the Alliance. The Alliance’s primary software that allows devices and apps to communicate with one another is an open-source framework called AllJoyn.

    CASS now hosts the Alliance’s AllJoyn Automated Test Suite (AJATS), a collection of hardware on which members run tests for AllJoyn. Because the Alliance is based on open-source development, the OSU’s Open Source Lab (a branch of CASS) proved an ideal neutral location for all the Alliance’s corporate engineers to monitor changes to the code and their impact on the devices.

    In addition, the CASS test lab will verify that AllJoyn functions correctly before each quarterly release cycle. Between release cycles, the test lab practices to adjust to new tools and requirements. This project provides the student employees the opportunity to work with cutting edge software which will be deployed to millions of devices.

  • DevOps DayCamp 2015

    In early October, we hosted our second annual DevOps DayCamp to over eighty students, faculty, and community members, acting as a feeder workshop into the year long DevOps BootCamp series. Beyond its promotional function, our DayCamp provided an interactive workshop for those in attendance.


    We offered seminars and interactive programs for both beginners and more advanced participants.

    For the beginners, the sessions focused on fundamentals and introductions. We began with an explanation of DevOps and its functions and moved into the basics of operating the system, including working with Unix, executing programs and flagging potential problems. Participants also learned collaborative techniques featuring IRC and git.


    The advanced track provided the opportunity for attendees to interact with a number of guest speakers, including Mozilla’s K Lars Lohn and Emily Dunham, Facebook’s Mark Callaghan, and IBM’s Spencer Krum, along with members of the Open Source Lab staff at Oregon State, including director Lance Albertson, full-time head of software development Ken Lett, and student system administrator Daniel Takamori.


    To wrap up the festivities, we created our first DevOps Panel, a group of experts responding to questions about DevOps. Panelists included Trevor Bramwell, release engineer at the Linux Foundation; Jeffrey Borcean, computer science undergraduate and system administrator; Jordan Evans, Open Source Lab systems administrator; and Mike Cooper, Mozilla web developer.


    In the coming weeks, our DevOps BootCamp will hold weekly sessions covering basic software development and system administration skills. The goal is to give students the skills to contribute to open-source projects. It's free and open to the community so spread the word. For more information, check out our website at http://devopsbootcamp.osuosl.org. See you there!

  • OSL GSOC 2015-Oregon's Catch

    by Evan Tschuy

    This summer the Open Source Lab had three students from around the world working on open source software through Google Summer of Code. The OSL has participated in GSoC for nine years, and each year has had its own unique challenges and successes.

    I had an opportunity to work with a student, Chaitanya, on What's Fresh, a project I originally developed last summer at the OSL for Oregon Sea Grant. With What's Fresh (which Sea Grant is planning to brand as Oregon's Catch), Sea Grant wanted to allow visitors to the Oregon coast to be able to find fresh fish available from fishermen, and had CASS, the new organization the OSL is a part of, develop the app and backend. Chaitanya worked on the backend, making data entry easier. It now has several important features, like easier location entry, search, and inline forms so users don't need to leave the page to add related items. It is also now themeable, so other organizations can use easily set up a customized version for their area.

    It was initially slow-going as we got more familiar with working with each other and as he got comfortable working on the project. Since Chaitanya was more familiar with Python and Django than Javascript, it took a while for things to start coalescing. However, at the end of the summer, we're both proud of what's been accomplished and the features added to the project. It was exciting to see Chaitanya's skills grow, and to myself feel more comfortable in a mentorship role. We're going to deploy the improved version of the backend after one more round of code review.

    This year, the Open Source Lab will have the opportunity to send one person to Google's annual Mentorship Summit. We look forward to seeing other mentors there!




  • OSL GSOC 2015-Protein Geometry Database

    by Elijah Voigt

    What is the Protein Geometry Database?

    The Protein Geometry Database project (PGD) is many things to many people.

    The synopses on code.osuosl.org says:

    "Protein Geometry Database is a specialized search engine for protein geometry. It allows you to explore either protein conformation or protein covalent geometry or the correlations between protein conformation and bond angles and lengths."

    There's a lot of science in that paragraph; I speak code much better than I speak science, so let's look at the Github Repository. That page says things like...

    It also describes the code as being:

    • 59.2% Python,
    • 27.2% HTML,
    • 12.4% JavaScript, and
    • 1.2% Other

    Depending on what you use PGD for (if you use it at all) you have a different relationship with the project. What matters here is that PGD is a project that the OSL develops and maintains. This year a lot of great work was done on it for the 2015 Google Summer of Code.

    What PGD Accomplished During GSOC 2015

    This year's PGD GSOC project had five core goals, all of which got accomplished.

    1. Revamping the current account system.
    2. Building occupancy awareness into PGD.
    3. Testing the current development branch of PGD.
    4. Implementing a search by deposition date filter.
    5. Upgrading PGD to Django 1.8 (from Django 1.6!)


    The student for this project was S. Ramana Subramanyam. He is in his second year at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Goa, India, and was wonderful to work with. Despite a 12 hour time difference he was able to be productive the majority of the time.

    Although none of the code developed for this year's GSOC has been merged into PGD, it has all been reviewed and will be merged over the next few months as the project lead (Jack Twilley) and I are able to work together on migrating the changes.

    Overcoming Challenges

    The largest challenges we were faced with in this project were scheduling.

    The PGD Project Lead (Jack) got an amazing internship for his Food Science degree in California at a vineyard; as a result he was unable to work on PGD and his GSOC mentorship as much as was initially expected. While I was able to answer (or at least help with) many of the questions S. Ramana had, sometimes we were forced to throw up our hands, send an email to Jack, and wait.

    This didn't stop S. Ramana from completing all of his goals for the GSOC project; there was always plenty to do so he could put one thing on the back-burner and focus on a new task. At the most it was a mild inconvenience but didn't get in the way too often.

    Where PGD Stands

    Once the code is merged and the inevitable version control conflicts are resolved, PGD will have some pretty neat new features:

    1. Search results can be saved.
    2. Search results can be saved as a PNG image.
    3. Occupancy Awareness.
    4. Deposition Date is now a search Filter.
    5. PGD is pgraded to Django 1.8.

    It took a lot of energy not to add ! to the end of each of those items.

    Despite scheduling conflicts and the usual technical snafus that come with major engineering changes, I would say that this GSOC was a success for PGD and the OSL.

    Personal Takeaways

    This was my first time mentoring a student for GSOC and although I have had limited experience mentoring students with Devops Bootcamp, mentoring a student remotely with a 12 hour time difference is an entirely different can of worms.

    My mentorship abilities were challenged but I learned a lot of great skills and added many tools to my belt when it comes to dealing with problems and knowing when/who to ask for help. If I am given the opportunity to be a GSOC mentor next year I will definitely jump on the opportunity to do so.



  • Mysql1-vip Outage Post-Mortem



    On July 15th we ran into a number of issues with replication on mysql2 on a couple of session tables. This caused replication to be paused, and a large number of statements had to be skipped. Replication was restarted successfully. On July 16th some more issues with the same tables were encountered, but in far greater number. A ticket was created to track the issue. Replication was restarted several times, but on the week of the 20th a decision was made to entirely reload mysql2 and examine some alternative replication methods (primarily row-based replication).

    Our servers, mysql1 and mysql2, are running mysql 5.5. While documentation and tribal knowledge claimed a master-slave replication set-up, they were configured as master-master replication.

    What Happened

    On July 30th a decision was made to reload mysql2 at 4:00PM PDT to fix replication errors. Slave replication was intentionally stopped. Databases were dropped one at a time on mysql2 with a small delay between each drop.

    As mentioned previously, mysql1 and mysql2 were unexpectedly set up in master-master replication configuration. Therefore, though slave replication on mysql2 was stopped,  mysql2 was still sending commands to mysql1. This caused databases to be dropped on both machines. Thanks to the script delays we realized after a few minutes that mysql1 was dropping databases and the script was stopped. We then immediately started working to restore the databases.

    Why restores took so long

    As demand for the mysql cluster has grown, our backup strategy has shifted to be optimized to save disk space, our greatest resource bottleneck. This has been a worthwhile tradeoff in the past, as we have rarely had to do full restores. We use mysql-zrm to back up mysql with heavy compression. Because of this strategy, restores were largely CPU-bound instead of IO-bound.

    We also discovered we had a couple of databases that had issues restoring due to indexing and foreign keys. Each time one of these failed, we had to parse the entire backup file (around 200GB), and pull out the bad database to restore separately, and then pull out the rest of the unrestored databases.

    A further complication was that our backups were pointed at mysql2, which was out-of-date with mysql1, due to the initial synchronization failures. Fortunately, we had the binary logs from the 17th through the 30th. This means that though most data could be restored, some data from between the 15th and the 17th was lost.

    These three factors combined meant a much slower, and much more labor-intensive restore process than we had anticipated.

    Looking Forward

    We learned a lot of important lessons from this outage, both related to how we run our mysql cluster, as well as how we plan and manage resources at the OSL in general.

    Most immediately, some of the most important changes we will implement for the mysql service over the next month or two include:

    1. Evaluating better replication strategies to mitigate the initial cause, including row-based replication

    2. Storing binlogs as a backup on a separate server.

    3. Doing backups using Percona XtraBackup, allowing for much faster full restores

    4. Using mydumper rather than mysql-zrm to improve the speed of our logical backups

    5. Work on our documentation and training for our complex systems, including

      1. Regularly testing full restores as part of our backup process on a spare server

      2. Gather more accurate ETAs for the restoration process

      3. Regularly audit the databases we host -- Multiple test and ballooning databases (100GB+) seriously delayed the restore process

    6. Migrate to a bigger, more powerful mysql cluster (already planned before this outage)

    In terms of the bigger picture, we recognize that we need to change how the lab plans, monitors, and manages resources and projects. Despite our best efforts, the backlog of hosting requests to the OSL continues to grow. We have, over the years, worked hard to stretch our resources to provide services to as many projects as we can. This has always come with tradeoffs, such as the compression of backups to maximize disk use, and less redundancy than we would have wished.

    We have for a while been concerned about how thinly resources have been stretched, and have been working on a set of policy changes, as well as raising funds to reinvest in the lab. Some of you may have heard our staff talk about this plan -- we hope to talk to a lot more of you about this in the near future. Our new FTP cluster, perhaps one of our most neglected pieces of infrastructure, was an important first step in this renewal.

    Over the next few months, the OSL will be looking at a number of different services and policies, including:

    1. Instituting a policy and mechanisms for better keeping the community informed

      1. Of outages, maintenance, etc.

      2. Of resource use & warning signs (dashboards)

    2. Identifying and redesigning “core” services, including

      1. Defining and monitoring capacity limits

      2. Implementing redundancy and restore practices, including staff drills

      3. Migrating more of these services to Chef

      4. Instituting periodic review of documentation, policies and performance metrics

      5. Finding better ways of leveraging community expertise to supplement our own

    3. Raising funds to refresh our most aging infrastructure, and catch up on the worst of our technical debt.

    We want to thank you for your patience and support during this outage and over the years we have served you. We realize that the length of this outage, and the lack of progress reports was unacceptable, and we want you to know that we are taking steps to reduce both the likelihood and the impact of future outages.

  • Write the Docs '15

    by Elijah Voigt

    The day is May 18. The location is the Portland's Crystal Ballroom. The conference is Write the Docs (WtD). Excitement and anticipation fill the air as we collectively munch on breakfast foods and find a seat. The keynote begins and immediately sets the mood: docs are fun, docs are interesting, and here's how you can make your docs awesome.


    WtD was quite the experience and it got me excited about documentation, something I admit I never expected to be all that excited about. At times it felt like a support group for non-technical individuals that work with engineers, other times it felt like a storyteller sharing with us their adventure in documenting some massive project, and most importantly it was always engaging and interesting. Some of my most memorable talks were of Twillio's efforts to make their documentation better, GitHub's workflow of writing docs for GitHub with GitHub, and Google's new documentation tool and how it was developed and adopted in a grass roots effort as opposed to a top-down corporate approach. I even gave a Lightning Talk on "How to Write the Best Email You've Never Written... Until Now" which went over very well and seemed to speak to a lot of people.

    Inspired by this awesome conference, we have have started a massive overhaul on our documentation including writing official style guides, overhauling the new hire onboarding docs, and updating our wiki. With the new hire documentation we have taken into account lessons learned from the conference, like how we should make docs fun to read in addition to informational; this shift has resulted in our 'Gamified New Hire Docs' rewrite, which essentially gamifies the onboarding process to be more fun. Once one of the new student employees passes a milestone, like submitting their first GitHub Pull Request, they get a reward badge (e.g., a gold star sticker). It might not seem like much, but this is way better than slogging through a daunting pile of docs as one starts a new job.

  • Coming Soon: Beaver BarCamp 15

    Spring is almost here, and that means Beaver BarCamp 15 is quickly approaching. The OSL's annual unconference is scheduled for Saturday, April 18th. Participants are beginning to gather ideas and information for their sessions, and the Open Source Lab is offering up some helpful suggestions on how to present a successful unconference session:


    1. Plan ahead. While the spirit of BarCamp is spontaneous and unstructured, it is a good idea to gather enough information ahead of time to present a well-informed BarCamp presentation. Planning for your session can help you budget your time and make you less nervous.


    2. Interactivity. One of the reasons unconferences can be valuable is the possibility of collaborative and interactive sessions. A formal lecture can be restrictive, and can discourage active learning. Include the audience in your sessions. Ask them questions in order to gauge their experience level. Engage the audience in activities and demonstrations. This can lead to a more beneficial session for everyone.


    3. Angle. It’s always a good idea to establish a position, or an angle, on a session topic. It increases opportunity for conversation, and gives a good foundation for formatting a session. However, it is important to be ready for others to disagree with your position, and be prepared to listen to their point of view. Avoid getting too defensive about your position on the topic.


    4. Visual aids help. Visual aids, whether it is a slideshow, a demonstration or simply an image, are good tools to illustrate your presentation and increase audience interest. It also serves as a discussion point if you get lost or stuck during your session. Be sure to test your visual aids ahead of time in order to make sure everything is saved and working properly.


    5. Don't be afraid of a smaller session. While popular sessions can be satisfying, smaller sessions allow for more discussion and exchanging of ideas. Having a small session does not mean you are unsuccessful!


    6. Diversity. Beaver BarCamp sessions do not have to be tech-based, and attendees are encouraged to present a wide variety of session topics. Some examples of past topics include Python programming, Zumba, Heartbleed, helicopters and Magic: The Gathering. The diverse session topics add to the unconference, and presenters should run sessions about what interests them, making for a more interesting and better presented talk.


    Beaver BarCamp is free and open to students and community members alike. To learn more about Beaver BarCamp, please visit our website.

  • SCALE x13

    by Elijah Voigt

    A few months ago, Emily Dunham and I were chatting about the talks we had recently presented at the Seattle GNU/Linux conference, and the topic of other conferences and events we were interested in speaking at came up. She pointed me to the Southern California Annual Linux Expo (SCALE) and encouraged me to submit one of my talks. Two hours later, I had successfully submitted a proposal to give a talk about the media suite Blender 3D and promptly forgot about the whole thing. A few weeks later I got an email congratulating me on being accepted as a speaker to Scale x13; a few weeks after that I was on a plane to LA getting ready for an eventful (and exhausting) weekend.


    My talk on Blender went well: the room was full, the audience asked amazing questions and nobody noticed that I had rewritten most of it the night before.* Lance’s talk on Packer was informative and peaked a lot of people’s interest. Emily’s talk on Human Hacking in Open Source, delivered in the main conference room, was creative, useful and amassed an engaged audience.


    In addition to seeing talks on containers, the Maker Movement, containers, DevOps, and containers, I spent most of Friday perusing the Expo Hall. I met up and talked with organizations we help host like Drupal, the Linux Foundation, and Gentoo Linux. I also got to meet developers, community members, and representatives from Cylon.js, Chef, the EFF, Elementary OS, Gobot, Kids on Computers, Mozilla, NixOS, O’Reilly, Salt Stack, and many more. I was humbled and honored to meet leaders and developers of projects which I use and love every day.


    Rather than hosting a booth at the event, we opted for a more novel approach to community engagement by designing and sharing OSL Trading Cards for our game “Gotta Catch Them All”. This was hugely popular and by the second and third day of our presence at the conference we had people coming up to us asking for our “card”-- and they didn’t mean our business cards.


    Scale was an unforgettable event and I hope everybody in the FOSS community gets the chance to experience it.


    *This is an industry standard of course, I was just following best practice for conference talk-preparation.



    Scale: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale/13x

    Scale Exhibitors: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale/13x/exhibitors

    Scale Schedule: http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale/13x/schedule


  • A Successful DevOps DayCamp

    Over 100 students and community members attended the Open Source Lab’s DevOps DayCamp in the Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University on Saturday, Oct. 11.

    DevOps DayCamp, a new event this year, was the kick-off for DevOps BootCamp, an extracurricular training program in its second year that takes place throughout the school year for OSU students and community members interested in DevOps. DayCamp is a dual-track event designed to accommodate varying levels of DevOps experience. Tracks consisted of a beginner track and an advanced track, with one joint session for all experience levels.

    The beginner track guided less experienced attendees in getting started through introductory and workshop sessions on the basics of DevOps. Led by the OSL staff, beginner attendees received instruction on some basic tools of DevOps, including Linux, the terminal and IRC. The sessions set beginners up for a successful DevOps BootCamp experience.

    Computer science student Anna Murphy, a beginner, says, “It was pretty intense, but as fast as it went it was still manageable. At the end of the day I was amazed by how much I had managed to learn. I kept thinking that I wish they had told me this in one of my classes.”

    Advanced track sessions covered tools useful in DevOps. Talks were given by industry professionals, and included Ansible, Travis CI and Docker. Sessions were lecture-based, but also provided time to workshop and gain hands-on experience.

    OSL system administrator Daniel Takamori delivered a presentation on Docker in the advanced track. “It was great fun and I would love to do it again. The two sides of tracks were great. The wide variety of experience was neat to interact with.”

    Nike presented a joint session talk about how DevOps is used in a corporate setting. The joint session covered topics including DevOps culture, continuous integration and deployment, cloud architecture, cloud security and what DevOps is like within Nike.

    Murphy felt it was a valuable experience to extend her education. “It felt like I had a better understanding of what tools were used in the industry and how to access them,” Murphy says.

    DevOps BootCamp takes place on Mondays from 7-9pm in the Kelley Engineering Center. Check out the website for more information!

  • Using Variables in a Custom Drupal Theme

    At the Open Source Lab we host many of our sites as a Drupal multisite. This means that we have several instances of Drupal using the same theme, and then we can populate each site with different content as needed (for instance, cass.oregonstate.edu and osuosl.org would be different websites with different messages, but with Drupal they can look and act the same. Pretty neat!). Since not all of our sites are used by the OSL (i.e. the Center for Applied Systems and Software), I recently needed to make our logo and organization name into variables so that the user could just upload an image and fill in a text box to customize the site theme to their organization. Luckily, Drupal makes my job pretty easy.

    First, I created a file osuosl-setting.php. Since our theme is titled osuosl, there are some things I can hard-code under our company name and this seemed like one of them. The first step to magic variabilization is to alter the systems theme settings and the form that controls them. Drupal’s naming scheme is a little wonky (as you end up with things like hook_field_attach_prepare_translation_alter()), but in a roundabout way it makes sense. To digress a bit into this topic, let’s break down the osuosl_form_system_theme_settings_alter name. The first part of Drupal’s function names is the object that it is affecting. In this case, osuosl is the name of our theme, and the theme is the thing we are trying to add something to (you could also be trying to make changes to blocks, pages, hooks, and a variety of other things). Then, within the theme we are modifying the form_system. This includes any forms that are default in the Drupal theme, such as the settings form found under Appearance->Theme->Settings. Next, as seen in the previous example, we’re modifying the theme settings form. And finally, we are altering the form (as opposed to creating it, deleting it or setting variables within it). This is how we get to osuosl_form_system_theme_settings_alter. It’s not intuitive, but Drupal has excellent documentation to help you along. Now, on to some code!

    function osuosl_form_system_theme_settings_alter(&$form, $form_state){

    Next, there are two variables that need to be added to the form. For each of these, we need to add them to the theme_settings array, and then make them into their own arrays to store all the necessary information about them.

    function osuosl_form_system_theme_settings_alter(&$form, $form_state){
    $form['theme_settings']['logo'] = array();
    $form['theme_settings']['site_name'] = array();

    Now we’ll fill in some variables about the logo and name

    function osuosl_form_system_theme_settings_alter(&$form, $form_state){
    $form['theme_settings']['logo'] = array(
    '#type' => 'managed_file',
    '#title' => t('logo'),
    '#required' => TRUE,
    '#default_value' => theme_get_setting('logo'),
    '#upload_validators' => array(
    'file_validate_extensions' => array('git png jpg jpeg')
    $form['theme_settings']['site_name'] = array(
    '#type' => 'textfield',
    '#title' => t('site_name'),
    '#default_value' => theme_get_setting('site_name')
    'required' => TRUE,

    Now that osuosl-settings.php was done and my variables were ready to be put into the theme, I needed to add some defaults for them so that if the user didn’t upload a logo or org name, there would still be something there. I decided to use the OSL logo and organization name under the assumption that the theme will be used primarily by us. So in osuosl.info, I added the lines:

    settings[logo] = images/logo-full.png
    settings[site_name] = OSU Open Source Lab

    Finally, I had to call my variables in the Drupal templates so that they would be rendered when the site was built!

    <a href="/"><img src="<?php print theme_get_setting('logo'); ?>" alt="<?php print (theme_get_setting('site_name'));?>" /></a>   

    Ta-da! Now, all the user has to do is go to Appearances->Theme->Settings to upload a new logo and fill in their organization name!

  • My Experiences with Openstack

    In the simplest of terms, OpenStack is a massive undertaking. The goal of OpenStack is to fit just about every use case imaginable. This goal brings with it a daunting list of configuration options and requires a larger understanding of networking and virtualization systems. Couple that with cryptic error messages, and this makes for a system that can easily crush a newbie's confidence and cause them to scrap the system altogether. Luckily, there are some projects out there trying to lower the entry bar and get more people introduced to OpenStack. Two of the projects most referred to are DevStack (which the OpenStack developers actually use for development and testing) and RDO Packstack from RedHat. Last summer, I began teaching myself OpenStack using Packstack. This creates a Proof-Of-Concept (POC) deployment suitable to get comfortable with the architecture, the concepts and even some architectural design choices. Fast forward a few months and, having gathered a much larger (and yet still very small) understanding of how OpenStack works, the OSL deployed the POC Packstack setup and had our Systems Admins deploying VMs to develop and test our Chef cookbooks. Next comes the most daunting challenge: configuration management. Configuration management requires a much greater understanding of the underlying system because you have to know which options should be changed and which options should not. The problem with OpenStack in configuration management is that there are so many options to set/change in each OpenStack service. The other challenge is knowing how to choose the best option for your use case. You can create your own management scripts or you can look into the various other methods being developed (such as RedHat's RDO Foreman using Puppet or Chef's Stackforge). I first started with RDO Foreman mostly due to the RDO support community. This community is filled with helpful and knowledgeable people who are working on the configuration management scripts. Ultimately, however, we went with Stackforge over RDO Foreman, mainly because the latter lacked some flexibility we required. It also turned out that the Stackforge project would allow for us to run multiple environments as well as allowing us to run OpenStack on IBM Power CPUs. After a lot of testing, tweaking, frustration (head-desking, face palming, cursing), moments of inspiration, sudden realizations, and wonderful moments of clarity, we had a working test environment. Next, we had to reconcile the differences between the testing environment and the production environment (as well as throwing in things like changing from OpenStack's Havana release to Icehouse for good measure). Currently, we are finishing up some testing of our x86 production OpenStack cluster and we even have a production OpenPower OpenStack cluster. Overall, this project has been an incredible opportunity that enabled me to experience different roles in project management, build connections in the various OpenStack community, learn more about the underlying systems that OpenStack uses (kvm, networking in too much detail, web servers, etc.), and, most of all, drastically increase my abilities to debug problems with little information while being persistent in learning how to properly fix those bugs. Ultimately the skills and concepts developed while working with OpenStack can be transferred to almost any setting, making it a valuable teaching tool.

  • DevOps DayCamp

    The Open Source Lab will host the new DevOps DayCamp on Saturday, October 11, in the Kelley Engineering Center from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

    DevOps DayCamp will kick off DevOps BootCamp, allowing students to start their DevOps education early in the school year. In order to accommodate different experience levels, DayCamp is comprised of two tracks: a beginner track and an advanced track. The beginner track will help inexperienced attendees get started with DevOps through introductory sessions and workshops on the basics of DevOps. Additionally, the advanced track will be comprised of a hands-on hackathon with educational sessions throughout the day for the more experienced DevOps crowd. Advanced track sessions will be given by industry professionals and will include Ansible, Travis CI and Docker.

    The OSL is hosting DevOps DayCamp instead of the fall Beaver Barcamp. Due to the tight academic calendar, as well as the amount of organizing a successful Barcamp entails, Beaver Barcamp is now an annual event held in the Spring.

    “This year we decided that it was best to switch to a once a year format and focus on making Beaver Barcamp better," says Lance Albertson, director of the Open Source Lab. “We also look forward to developing new education programs such as a hackathon focused on DevOps and FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), getting students interested in it early on in their school year.”

    Registration and more information about DevOps DayCamp is available on the website.

  • Make Bash, Not War

    At the OSL we have shared workstations, most of which are named after colors. In the NOC, I usually work at emerald.workstation.osuosl.bak (Figure 1). I use tmux (Figure *) to multiplex so I can have multiple terminals open in a single ssh connection and connect to my session from anywhere. When splitting the terminal vertically, the prompt can get so long that it's hard to see the command that I'm entering (Figure 2). I'd like my prompt to automatically shorten itself in narrow windows. Fortunately, my terminal already knows how much space it has available: $COLUMNS is an environment variable which stores how wide your current terminal is, and the default unixism is 80. So in order to save space, I'd like to shorten my prompt to only a directory listing and a colored character replacing the normal $ or >. Behold! (Figure 3, 4) Using a case statement and filtering out the name of the workstation from the domain name, I can color code my prompt based on hostname. This very easily lets me know $HOSTNAME (again, this is an environment variable which contains /etc/hostname), and indirectly /usr/bin/whoami since almost every other user will preface their prompt with a $USER. This was a 10 minute exercise in learning how to write case statements in bash and provide some cute utility to an otherwise stale prompt. The other thing you might notice is that I directly add the unicode heart into the prompt. This causes difficulty on TTYs and some terminal emulators where it is replaced with a ♦ (which is an ASCII character). There should be a check to make sure it can be loaded and replaced with something else if it fails. All in all, this is just quick hack to make life prettier! Source! bashexample

  • A Recap of OSCON 2014

    The OSL made a strong showing at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) this year with the majority of the student employees attending along with all of the full time staff. The conference was held in Portland, OR, and fell on July 20-24.

    The Lab always places a special emphasis on education, and the conference was certainly an educational experience. The expo hall held dozens of booths filled with information and demonstrations about open source projects and the companies that support them.

    The expo hall was student developer Evan Tschuy’s favorite part of the conference. “I liked wandering around the expo hall because there were so many booths. It was like ‘I’ve heard of that company! Them too! I’ve never heard of them, what are they about?’”

    In between shifts at the OSL booth, staff that attended the conference were given the opportunity to go to a variety of informational sessions including A Glimpse of Git’s future, Data Structures and Netflix API: Top 10 Lessons Learned.

    The OSL’s Lucy Wyman attended sessions on graph theory and data structures. “They were both given by the same guy, Tim Berglund, and he was amazing. When someone asked a question, he always knew the answer. It’s nice that he knew more than just his talk; he knew the subject really well.”

    Presenting a session can be just as educational as attending a session, and OSL director Lance Albertson and student Emily Dunham ran a session on DevOps for University Students, discussing DevOps Bootcamp.

    Another important benefit to OSCON is the opportunity for the OSL students to network within the open source community. Student systems administrator Daniel Takamori says, “I really enjoyed networking with people and seeing how they use different open source tools.”

    In addition to attending sessions, OSL students were also given the opportunity to attend the various social events held during OSCON. The Lab hosted a lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery on Wednesday, with industry partners, alumni and hosted FOSS projects attending. The OSL and its guests shared good conversation over a delicious meal.

    Wyman states, “The parties were really awesome, not because of the party aspect, but because that’s really what it’s like to be in the tech industry. It was nice to meet professionals and talk to people who were as interested in computers as I am.”

    Whether it was gathering information at the booths, attending an informational session or simply networking with open source professionals, OSCON proved to be a valuable educational experience for the Open Source Lab. We look forward to next year!

  • Google Migration Post-mortem

    OSU administration recently approached the OSL asking us to help migrate their email archives to Google. Through contacts with other local universities that had made the switch recently, we discovered that Portland State University had written and published an open source Python app to manage the process. In the name of expedience, we decided to fork that project and use that as our base from which to extend.

    Having had time to reflect, I’d like to share a few lessons from the experience:

    1. Enterprise means customized. All software comes bundled with biases and assumptions; small teams may be better off adapting their organization to fit those assumptions, but there exists a threshold beyond which it is easier to adjust software to fit the organization's assumptions instead. Despite forking a completed application, we found ourselves making several customizations and undoing several assumptions made by upstream developers.

    It was constantly tempting to rewrite and generalize the software, but data migration in particular is usually only done once, so any benefits from investments made into code quality will mainly accrue to those that come after us. Instead of aiming for perfection, we settled on good enough to meet the client's needs, while leaving the app better off than we found it. We formalized Python library dependencies using pip, ported the application to the latest Django version, and adopted some Django app organizational practices from Mozilla.

    2. Pace your app. 3rd party APIs, including Google, rate limit requests to prevent people like us from accidentally DDoSing their systems... kind of. The main limit is one mail per second per inbox. The clever engineer will recognize that with tens of thousands of inboxes, we can still push several thousand emails to Google per second, so long as the app is parallelized wisely.

    The app we selected used a task queue with worker nodes pulling from it. Syncing one inbox is a task, so we have n concurrent inbox sync tasks running in parallel. This design is simple to scale up/down, and properly divides up the work with the API's rate limit in mind. Task queues are a good model, and one I've used before for this sort of task, so we left the architecture alone.

    It was a good chance to learn about RabbitMQ deployment specifics and monitoring tools; unfortunately what I discovered was that most tools are instrumented for tasks per second while our application was best measured in tasks per hour. This wasn't a huge problem, but it meant that I had to write my own instrumentation to estimate how long syncing all users might take, or how many extra worker nodes to spin up to meet any given deadline.

    3. Config management FTW. Especially for one-off apps that you don't expect to live long, it can be tempting to set up a VM and get it working, then just clone it into production a couple of times. It certainly makes the initial deploy simple, but making changes becomes difficult once you discover you need to scale up to several dozen worker VMs.

    I think most sysadmins understand that config management works well for high scale web environments at Google, Facebook or Amazon. What is lost on many sysadmins is how configuration management tools are also useful for collaboration. By using configuration management tools that treat the infrastructure like code, a new strategy emerges: manage ops like one manages devs. You provide them with a number of tools: revision control, production/development branches, peer review, etc. From this perspective, Chef and Puppet make all kinds of sense. It’s also great at documenting how your infrastructure is set up for coworkers.

    Or yourself, six months later:

    “Any software project is a collaborative project. It has at least two developers, the original developer and the original developer a few weeks or months later when the train of thought has long left the station.”
    --Peter Hutterer

    Until you've tried it, you have no idea how useful it is to be able to run git grep on your infrastructure. It’s quite useful to know all the places that your infrastructure references a specific server you need to take offline, or what the Apache configuration looked like back before you tried to integrate LDAP authentication with the SVN repo.

    So having learned and applied these lessons, what did we accomplish? By mid December, roughly half of the student population had opted into the Google apps domain. This greatly reduced the time spent during the last weekend of December for the final sync of approximately 24k remaining inboxes. OSU Helpdesk was also happy with the gradual migration; infrastructure changes implemented all at once lead to large temporary increases in calls, and makes staffing and scheduling much harder.

  • Vim Trick FTW!

    Recently, I learned a useful Vim trick. One of our hosted clients has a Dokuwiki instance that we help manage, and they were having problems with a lot of spam user accounts being created. We added a CAPCHA to the wiki to make it less convenient for new spammers to join, but there were a lot of bad accounts already existing. By "a lot," I mean there were 112,808 accounts listed in users.auth.php, and only about a dozen real project personnel using the wiki on a regular basis.

    To clean it out, we decided the best course of action would be deleting every account except those with admin privileges, because most of the real humans were in the admin group and those who weren't could get the project leader to re-add their accounts. The benefit of clearing out a hundred thousand spammers would, in this case, outweigh the inconvenience of manually recreating a couple of real accounts.

    It turns out that DokuWiki's interface isn't set up to bulk delete users based on group membership -- one really shouldn't get that many spammers in to begin with, so this is an unusual case. However, I'm not forced to use only the graphical interface. DokuWiki's configurations are stored in .php files in /var/www/wikiname/conf. Each line in users.auth.php represents one user account, and is of the form user:MD5password:Real Name:email:groups,comma,separated.

    I was familiar with the Vim command :d/pattern/g to delete all lines containing a pattern, but this time I needed to delete all lines that didn't have 'admin' in them. A little research revealed the command :v/pattern/d, which deletes all lines except those which match the pattern. Since many of the spammers (73 out of our 112,808, but still too many to hand-delete each) were using admin@ email addresses, simply deleting all the lines without 'admin' in them wasn't good enough. Instead, since I know all the users in the admin group have their group permissions in the form "admin,user," the command that removed everyone except the admin users was `:v/admin,user/d`.

    If you're newer to the Bash shell, you may be wondering how I got the specific numbers of spammers. I made a backup of the users.auth.php file before deleting users, just in case the client changed their mind. Since DokuWiki had automatically created a users.auth.php.bak, I created my own backup of the users.auth with `cp users.auth.php users.auth.php.bak2`. Now I can look back at the user list full of spammers and say `wc -l users.auth.php.bak2` to count the lines in it (since there's one account per line) and `grep admin@ users.auth.php.bak2 | wc -l` to count how many of the former users had admin@ email addresses.

  • Protein Geometry - What the Heck is That?

    When I bumped into my biochemistry professor, Dr. Kevin Ahern, on campus a few months ago, I had the pleasure of explaining how I actually get to use what I learned in his class. And at the Open Source Lab of all places. At the lab, I’ve had the opportunity to work on an open source project called the Protein Geometry Database (PGD), and my coursework as a food science major with fermentation science option -- specifically, that course in biochemistry -- has proven unexpectedly helpful when working on the PGD.

    The Protein Geometry Database was originally created in 2008 by Dr. Donald Berkholz and Dr. P. Andrew Karplus, in conjunction with Peter Krenesky and John Davidson at the Open Source Lab. An extremely brief summary of the database: proteins consist of polypeptide chains, which themselves consist of amino acid residues. The dihedral angles between the residues and other characteristics of the bonds found within are influenced by the side chains of those residues and of their neighbors near and far. These characteristics are among the many attributes that are of interest to researchers like Drs. Berkholz and Karplus, both of Oregon State University's Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Since that time, the PGD has evolved and matured to fit the needs of researchers both on- and off-campus, maintained primarily by student developers at the Open Source Lab. An example of this is the usage of PGD by cancer researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia to improve their understanding of structural details at the 0.1 angstrom level, which may assist them in identifying compounds of interest for cancer-fighting drugs.

    All software development projects require two sets of skills: those pertaining to the various technologies (languages, frameworks and the like), and having a basic understanding of the concepts being modeled. The PGD is written in Python, and currently uses the Django framework to provide a web interface to a database containing protein sequences. Having experience with Django and Python is necessary, but not sufficient, because familiarity with protein structures is required to truly grok the PGD codebase.

    One example from the PGD is Ramachandran plots. These plots help researchers identify secondary structures in proteins. Two of these structures -- alpha helices and beta strands -- were discovered by Linus Pauling OSU ‘22. Having covered these plots and their purpose in biochemistry class gave me a leg up on understanding the software used to generate the plots in the PGD.

    Hold on tight, we're about to get seriously technical.

    The sequence of amino acid residues in polypeptide chains is the primary structure, while the interactions between nearby residues generates the secondary structure. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are composed of three groups surrounding a central carbon atom: an amine (-NH2) group, a carboxylic acid (-COOH) group, and a side chain. A peptide bond is formed between two amino acids when the amine group from one amino acid loses a hydrogen atom while the carboxylic group from another amino acid loses a hydroxide ion. The amino acid residues remain bonded while the hydrogen atom and hydroxide ion form a water molecule and are lost. The backbone of the polypeptide chain therefore consists of three atoms per residue: the nitrogen atom from the amine group, the central carbon atom, and the carbon atom from the carboxylic acid group. Bonds between these atoms have three dihedral angles associated with them: phi, psi, and omega. Phi and psi are heavily influenced by the side chains of the residues while omega is primarily influenced by the planarity of the peptide bond. For more information on the topic, download "Biochemistry Free & Easy" by Dr. Kevin Ahern and Dr. Indira Rajagopal at http://biochem.science.oregonstate.edu/biochemistry-free-and-easy. This was the textbook for my biochemistry class and is chock-full of Dr. Ahern's poetry and songs as well as the sort of information one has come to expect from high-quality college textbooks.

  • OpenStack on OpenPOWER

    Openstack has been growing in popularity over the past few years and recently we’ve started to look into it further here at the OSL. We plan to continue to use Ganeti for our high-available IaaS needs, however we’re researching ways to integrate Openstack at the lab as well. While Ganeti provides a solid, stable and simple platform for general IaaS needs, Openstack provides better support for elastic and dynamic needs. We feel that using both platforms gives the best of both worlds, because they each fill a specific niche in a cloud environment.

    Earlier this year we teamed up with IBM to work on deploying Openstack on the OpenPOWER architecture with the goal of expanding our Supercell infrastructure beyond the x86 architecture. Thanks to the hard work by both the IBM and OSUOSL team, we’ve been able to deploy Openstack on four IBM OpenPOWER machines which support KVM and little endian.

    OpenStack on OpenPOWER screenshotOpenStack on OpenPOWER screenshot running a Fedora Guest.

    Currently we have the nodes deployed on Fedora 20 with Fedora 20 guests working properly. We’re also working on getting Debian and Ubuntu guests to work properly. Our goal is to provide ppc64 guest images for the Openstack Community on OpenPOWER in addition to providing OpenPOWER Openstack and KVM specific deployment documentation. We are planning to provide this platform to the general FOSS communities by early June 2014.

    To keep up to date on the status of the cluster, please feel free to subscribe to the OSUOSL OpenPOWER announcement mailing list.

  • Openstack's Horizon

    The first tech post is by Chance Zibolski, a community system administrator and project lead of Ganeti Web Manager, a Web administration panel that allows administrators and clients access to administer and use Google’s open source cloud infrastructure.

    Recently the OSU Open Source Lab has been experimenting with different technologies, in particular Openstack. We already use Ganeti as our production virtual machine and cluster management system and have written a web front end called Ganeti Web Manager. The whole purpose of the web manager is to allow us to easily create new virtual machines for internal purposes and to provide our customers with cheap, redundant VMs. Recently, the OSL released Ganeti Web Manager 0.10.2 and we’re getting close to finishing version 0.11. With this release, we’ve begun to discuss the future of Ganeti Web Manager and where we should be taking it. We’ve decided to eventually rewrite it. As the project lead of Ganeti Web Manager, it’s been my job to explore what tools and libraries we may want to use for new versions of the project.

    This is what led me to Openstack. Recently, we deployed an Openstack test cluster in our infrastructure, and I found that its web UI (known as Horizon) provides a lot of awesome functionality to Openstack users. The dashboard provides a full interface to the existing Openstack CLI tools, and lets users create new VMs with a few clicks of a button, all using a web interface. I began to explore how we might be able to use Horizon in order to accomplish our rewrite. As I discovered on the Horizon Github page the project has already been mostly separated out from the Openstack dashboard and can be used as a general purpose dashboard library for Django. Horizon provides utilities from mapping Django models to interactive/editable tables to creating tabbed page layouts and multiple step modal windows for performing actions.

    openstack screenshotOpenstack Horizon screenshot.

    Utilizing the basic layout the pre-existing Openstack dashboard uses, I was able to create a working prototype of a Horizon dashboard that interfaces with a Ganeti cluster. (See the code here: https://github.com/osuosl/ganeti_horizon.) It doesn’t do much—other than read cluster data and display it—and so far it only has about three or four different pages created. Based on my testing, I think Horizon is an excellent way to begin with a Django-based dashboard, and we will likely use it in our rewrite.

    If you will be writing a dashboard, I recommend taking a look at Horizon and seeing if it might fit your needs. At first it may seem like it’s built for a very specific use case, but you might be able to use it in your next dashboard project.

  • DevOps Bootcamp extends OSL reach

    Sometimes, it’s hard to be popular. The increasing popularity of open source means that there are always more students interested in the Open Source Lab than we have the ability to hire and mentor. In order to increase the lab’s reach and educate more people about FOSS, the lab created a new program, DevOps Bootcamp. Spearheaded by Emily Dunham, a student system administrator, and modeled after Portland State University’s Braindump, this program will allow more people from outside of the OSL to learn valuable FOSS skills.

    The unique DevOps Bootcamp curriculum focuses on both software development and systems administration. Designed to be accessible to complete beginners, the course aims to take potential open source contributors from no knowledge to a solid grasp of the basics in a year. The informal class covers the following key areas: linux basics, basic system administration, basic FOSS development methodologies, base infrastructure services for any organization (DNS, Email, etc), and building a simulated infrastructure for a company from top to bottom.

    Dunham, who also worked as a teaching assistant, feels she is gaining valuable experience sharing her expertise with new people.

    “Because it’s the first time we’re offering this class, it’s a learning experience for everyone,” says Dunham. “I’m learning as much about how to teach as they are learning about devops.”

    DevOps Bootcamp is held on Thursdays from 6-8 pm and is open to anyone in the community. Not only is the course about open source, the course itself is open source. The curriculum, based on the Computer Science 312 course the lab taught in 2009, is available on the DevOps Bootcamp website. In addition, Youtube videos of the classes are posted online and students can ask questions on IRC (#devopsbootcamp on freenode). The first meeting was successful, with 34 people in attendance.

    “I’m really happy with the number of people that weren’t just sitting there,” says Dunham. “They asked questions and demonstrated that they were engaged and participating.”

    For more information, please visit devopsbootcamp.osuosl.org.

  • 10 Projects Making a Difference

    In addition to supporting projects that are making significant impacts on technology, the Open Source Lab hosts projects that are striving to make the world a better place. The following 10 open source projects (in no particular order) promote open source technology in education, health care and government in ways that build a better future.

    1. CiviCRM

      CiviCRM is open source Constituent Relationship Management software geared toward meeting the needs of nonprofit and other public sector organizations. For example, the New York State Senate uses CiviCRM to manage millions of constituents for 62 state senate offices; Hands On, a nonprofit theater organization for the deaf, uses CiviCRM to manage ticketing. The OSL hosts most of the infrastructure for CiviCRM including the main website, the demo server, the documentation server and discussion forums.

    2. CONNECT

      CONNECT is an open source software community that strives to improve health care through the secure exchange of electronic health data. CONNECT software is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Medicaid and Medicare services. The OSL serves as a main mirror for CONNECT downloads and hosts the CONNECT community website.

    3. Elgg-social media platform

      Elgg is an award-winning open source social networking engine that provides a robust framework on which to build all kinds of social environments. Elgg is designed to be fully customizable through its modular plugins and robust views system. Organizations with networks powered by Elgg include Oxfam, the University of Florida, and the State of Ohio. The OSL provides hosting for Elgg.org's website, The Elgg Foundation's website, the el.gg URL shortener and various other sites.

    4. One Laptop Per Child

      The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative aims to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. As of 2011, over 2 million laptops have been distributed. The OSL developed the multimedia functionality of the XO laptop, including video and audio playback. Currently, the lab hosts the OLPC support forums.

    5. Open Source Digital Voting Foundation

      The OSDV Foundation is building an open source election technology framework for adoption and deployment by U.S. jurisdictions. Seeking to define the future of elections technology and develop voting standards, the OSDV Foundation promotes the integrity of our election processes.The OSL hosts websites for the foundation and the development servers for the TrustTheVote project.

    6. OpenMRS

      The Open Medical Record System develops enterprise-class open source software to manage electronic medical records. First used in a western medical clinic in Kenya in 2005, OpenMRS is now being used in over 140 countries, helping governments and organizations track diseases and improve patient care. The OSL hosts the OpenMRS website and manages development infrastructure for the OpenMRS medical record system application.

    7. ORVSD

      The Oregon Virtual School District provides website hosting and learning management systems for Oregon public schools. Created in 2006, this project has provided tremendous benefits to schools throughout Oregon, helping teachers integrate technology into the classroom with access to learning and content management systems. In addition, the project gives OSL student employees real-world experience, preparing them for their future roles as open source leaders. The OSL provides core infrastructure for ORVSD.

    8. Rock the Vote

      Founded in 1990, Rock the Vote has registered more than five million young people to vote and has become a trusted source of information for young people about registering to vote and casting a ballot. Rock the Vote was the first organization to introduce telephone voter registration, as well as online voter registration. The OSL provides managed hosting and deployment services for Rock the Vote registration.


    9. Sahana Software Foundation

      The Sahana Software Foundation manages community development of free and open source software projects that address common coordination challenges in disaster management. Last year, the City of New York used Sahana software to aid in its response to Hurricane Sandy. The OSL hosts Sahana Software's website and wiki.

    10. TeachEngineering

      TeachEngineering is a digital library of K-12 math and science curriculum that is free for teachers to use and adapt in their classrooms. The library infrastructure is implemented entirely on Linux, is built with open source system development tools and is itself available under the General Public License. The TeachEngineering library is hosted by the OSL and is indexed by the National Science Foundation's National Science Digital Library.


  • Connecting at Beaver BarCamp 12

    More than 160 students, community members and educators gathered in the Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State to share ideas, make connections and learn together at the Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 12 on Saturday, October 12. An informal conference hosted twice each year by the Open Source Lab, Beaver BarCamp encourages attendees to participate by both presenting sessions and participating in discussions. Throughout the day, 50 sessions were presented, with topics ranging from Python programming to starting a business to creating a universe.

    At Beaver BarCamp, sessions are scheduled the morning of the event: everyone writes the session they are interested in presenting on a Post-It note. Interest in sessions is gauged by having participants place dot stickers on their favorite sessions. Next, OSL staff arrange the schedule according to the needs of the presenters and popularity of sessions. Wendy Kincade, a master’s student at the University of Oregon, has attended Beaver BarCamp since it began in 2008 and enjoys the freedom this aspect of BarCamp provides.

    “I love the idea of showing up and talking to people about stuff that I don’t know we’re going to talk about,” says Kincade. “The spontaneity of it is appealing to me.”

    In this way, Beaver BarCamp creates a unique setting for students and community members to meet new people and share their interests, hobbies and research. Ken Olsen, a software technician at Hewlett-Packard, enjoys coming to Beaver BarCamp for that reason.

    “If I had to explain BarCamp to someone who hasn't been, I would say it is a unique opportunity to share information and skills, and make connections with others who have similar interests,” Olsen says.

    Olsen was able to make long-lasting connections during the Beaver BarCamp, because the cooperative atmosphere allowed attendees to participate in the instruction. Olsen presented a session about microcomputers, such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino. When a participant needed help while Olsen was busy, someone with programming experience stepped in.

    “I found not only a great student, but also a great mentor who I invited to come assist me (at future workshops) as well,” says Olsen.

    Students from five different Oregon campuses attended Beaver BarCamp on Saturday, enabling more collaboration and networking between Oregon universities. Students and educators from across Oregon’s university system welcomed the opportunity to socialize and learn with each other.

    “This is the second time I’ve come,” says Donovan Finch, a Portland State University student majoring in computer science. “It’s a great chance to meet people from the tech community, especially from other universities.”

    Students can also benefit from Beaver BarCamp by taking advantage of the opportunity to practice their speaking skills in a more relaxed atmosphere. PowerPoint karaoke, a popular session held at the end of the day, is a game where random PowerPoint slides are taken from the internet and a volunteer gives the presentation — without knowing what they will present. The volunteer has to make it up as they go along, allowing students and professionals to practice impromptu speaking. Russ Earl, a software engineer with Intel, attended Beaver BarCamp for the first time and participated in PowerPoint karaoke.
    powerpoint karaoke
    “I'd heard about PowerPoint karaoke but didn't quite know what to expect,” says Earl. “It was a fun time and a good chance to practice speaking skills.”

    Sponsors Mozilla, Tag1 Consulting, Github and Silicon Mechanics funded the conference and made it possible for everyone to enjoy a full schedule of sessions, as well as food, refreshments and T-shirts.

    The next Beaver BarCamp is scheduled for April 12, 2014.

  • Top 10 Projects Impacting the Open Source Community

    The Open Source Lab serves as a trusted third-party home to some of the largest open source projects. By promoting collaboration, accessibility and transparency, these projects are advancing the open source mission. The following (in no particular order) are 10 projects that make a significant impact on the open source community.

    1. Apache Software Foundation

      The Apache Software Foundation manages the development of many open source software packages, most notably the Apache Web server. The ASF was one of the OSL’s first hosted projects, coming aboard in 2003. The OSL provides hosting for the ASF's operational infrastructure.

    2. Linux Foundation

      The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and advances Linux. To achieve these tasks, the Linux Foundation provides legal services to Linux developers, collaborates on the Linux Standards Base, hosts events for the Linux community and provides public relations regarding Linux. The OSL hosts the Linux Foundation's infrastructure including websites, email and development machines.

    3. phpBB

      Used by websites ranging from VideoLan to Blender to MozillaZine, phpBB, a scalable and highly customizable open source bulletin board package, is a popular Web forum package. The OSL hosts the phpBB Web infrastructure.

    4. Gentoo Foundation

      Gentoo Linux is a distribution built on a customizable foundation, allowing users to build a Linux system exactly the way they need it. The Gentoo community was the first hosted client of the OSL, and it still utilizes many servers and development platforms here. The OSL provides colocation hosting and FTP mirroring services for the Gentoo Foundation, including colocation hosting for Polyp, a Chromebook being used by Gentoo for ARM development.

    5. Drupal

      Drupal is a PHP-based content management system used in many installations worldwide, including whitehouse.gov, npr.org, and examiner.com, along with several at Oregon State. When Drupal needed assistance with a Web server that was crippled under the load of its own popularity, the OSL -- along with the financial help of Drupal's users -- built a cluster for Drupal's websites that can scale along with its growth.

    6. Fedora Project

      The Fedora Project is a community with the primary purpose of leading the advancement of free, open source software and content. The Fedora operating system (a Linux distribution) is the Fedora Project's flagship product. The OSL hosts the Fedora test servers, proof of concept hosts, and other needs that Fedora often runs into during the course of building a new Fedora release.

    7. Freenode

      The Freenode Internet Relay Chat network facilitates open collaboration for people worldwide. It is used by many open source projects and is used extensively by the OSL. Freenode contains around 40,000 channels.The OSL hosts a Web server for Freenode.

    8. Python Software Foundation

      A nonprofit membership organization devoted to advancing open source technology, the Python Software Foundation’s mission is to promote, protect and advance the Python programming language. The OSL provides hosting for the PSF servers and the speed.python.org benchmarking server.

    9. CentOS

      CentOS is an enterprise-class Linux distribution operating system derived from sources freely provided to the public. CentOS developers provide technical support through chat rooms, mailing lists and web forums. The OSL hosts the CentOS master mirrors.

    10. Debian

      Debian GNU/Linux is a distribution known for its stability and roots in the free software philosophy. Created in 1993 by Ian Murdock, Debian is now supported by volunteer developers around the world. The OSL hosts the server for bugs.debian.org, along with some of their internal infrastructure. The lab also hosts development environments for MIPS and PPC.

  • Top 10 Milestones

    The Open Source Lab is celebrating 10 years of open source hosting, development and education. Here is a look back at some of our most important accomplishments.
    1. 2003 Domain name

      The domain name osuosl.org was created on October 11 at 17:25:06 UTC.

    2. 2003/04 Mozilla Firefox

      The OSL began hosting the Mozilla Foundation in 2003. In 2004, the lab began facilitating downloads of the Mozilla web browser Firefox 1.0, using Bouncer. The OSL specifically created Bouncer to help facilitate the high number of Firefox downloads: over 1 million on the first day of its release. Learn more

    3. 2005 Google and TDS

      In 2005, TDS donated 600 megabits of Internet bandwidth, enabling the OSL to improve its FTP mirroring services. Google also began donating to the Lab on a regular basis, ensuring the Lab’s success in contributing to the open source community. Learn more

    4. 2006 First Google Summer of Code

      The OSL has been a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization for seven years running. This year, the Lab is mentoring four students that are studying in Poland, Spain and India. Learn more

    5. 2007 One Laptop per Child

      When representatives from RealNetworks visited the OSL in 2007, they were impressed with the quality of work OSL students Michael Burns and Justin Gallardo had completed on One Laptop per Child and with their passion for open source projects. Burns and Gallardo credited energy drinks and pizza with aiding their efforts. Learn more

    6. 2008 First Beaver BarCamp

      After attending BarCamp Portland, former OSL student employee Alex Polvi convinced Associate Professor Timothy Budd to help him create Beaver BarCamp, an open, informal conference. Now in its fifth year, Beaver BarCamp has expanded to include non-tech sessions. Learn more

    7. 2010 Ganeti Web Manager

      Ganeti Web Manager is a Web application developed at the OSL that allows administrators and clients access to administer and use Google’s open source cloud infrastructure. GWM also trains students working at the Lab in software and infrastructure development.

      “It gives our students partially real-world experience working on a project, similar to what they might get down the road working for a company, where they might inherit code and have to work with what they’ve been given,” OSL Director Lance Albertson says.

    8. 2011 Drupal 7

      The OSL began hosting Drupal’s servers in 2005, helping Drupal to expand along with its growing community of users. In 2011, Drupal celebrated its tenth anniversary and Drupal.org was redesigned with the help of the OSL and former OSL employees. In addition, Drupal 7 was released and Drupal.org migrated to the Git version control system. Learn more

    9. 2012 Expanding with new projects: Python Software Foundation and Systers

      A growing, high-impact project used extensively at the OSL, the Python Software Foundation needed more centralized hosting and chose the OSL. Currently, the lab is moving various Python services to the OSL-managed cloud. In addition, the OSL began hosting Systers, an email community promoting women in computing, as part of the Lab’s expanding outreach efforts.

      “We encourage diversity in all forms including encouraging women in the tech industry,” Albertson says. “We wanted to ensure Systers was on stable footing to continue to grow as a project and a community.”

    10. 2013 School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

      In August, the OSL joined the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State in order to enhance its ability to mentor students and promote open source education.

      In addition, the OSL began celebrating a decade of open source hosting, development and education. By focusing on three key areas—education, outreach, and research and infrastructure—the OSL is taking the lead to build the future of the open source community. Learn more

  • A look back at Beaver BarCamp 1

    A session during the first Beaver BarCamp (Photo by Timothy Budd)

    After attending BarCamp Portland, Alex Polvi was inspired to create a similar opportunity for Corvallis. At the time, Polvi was a computer science student at Oregon State University, and he approached Associate Professor Timothy Budd about creating a BarCamp on campus. After driving up to Portland with some students in order to see a how a BarCamp is organized, Budd began creating the first Beaver BarCamp, with the help of his students and Corvallis community members from the Software Association of Oregon. The first Beaver BarCamp was held on March 1, 2008.

    Timing is everything, and it just so happened that Budd had recently received a grant from IBM to promote open source technology. With those funds, the group was able to pay for food, t-shirts, and the rental fee for the Kelley Engineering Center, all essential elements of holding a BarCamp.

    “It was nice to not have to worry about fundraising as we were figuring everything else out,” Budd says.

    Budd viewed the BarCamp “unconference” format as a unique way to forge ties with the local open source community. Although one of Budd’s challenges was doing publicity on a small budget, the first Beaver BarCamp attracted over 100 participants, including a mix of students and local technical community members.

    “I was surprised at the first camp that we actually had more nonstudents than students,” Budd says. “Although, a lot of students tended to show up once the free food was placed out.”

    At this first event, session topics focused on the technical: Intro to Linq and Mud Hut Programming, for example. In the evening, the format shifted from hour-long discussions to an “Ignite” format, where each presenter is allowed 15 slides with 15 seconds per slide for each presenter.

    The success of Beaver BarCamp led OSL Director Lance Albertson to step into the role of organizer when the program needed new leadership, bringing Beaver BarCamp under the OSL’s umbrella. A part of the OSL’s outreach efforts, Beaver BarCamp provides a way for the University and the local technology community to collaborate and share ideas.

    “The students really enjoy it, it’s a great way to recruit new students (to the OSL) and to show the community what we’re doing,” Albertson says.

    Although Polvi and Budd are long gone from Oregon State’s campus, Beaver BarCamp continues to thrive as a part of their legacy. The program has expanded to include non-technical session topics and continues to draw members of the local community to campus.

    “It gives the opportunity for anyone to get public speaking skills and gives us a platform to share what we do,” Albertson says. “It’s an open house of sorts.”

    Beaver BarCamp 12 is scheduled for October 12, 2013. Follow us @beaverbarcamp to stay informed of upcoming events.

  • OSL Announces 10 year Celebration; Attends OSCON

    The Open Source Lab (OSL) recently kicked off its 10 year celebration at the O’Reilly Open Source Conference in Portland July 23 - 26.

    Over the last decade, the OSL has contributed much to the recent growth of the open source community and is using this milestone to reflect on its past accomplishments and to create goals for the future. By focusing to ‘Build The Future’ in three key areas: education, outreach, and research and infrastructure, the lab will strengthen its position as an open source leader.

    “It’s an important milestone," says OSL Director Lance Albertson. "We’re not just a small group of people anymore but a maturing organization with a smart staff of both students and non-students."

    Build The Future icons
    Icons used to represent the three key areas of the Build The Future initiative: education, outreach and research & infrastructure.

    Further enabling the lab to expand its emphasis on education and fulfill its mission to promote open source technology globally, the OSL recently joined Oregon State’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). This joint effort will help the OSL and the EECS to expand open source curriculum, mentor an increasing number of students and promote open source technologies in the public sector.

    “It's exciting to see everybody having positive feedback for us moving into EECS," Albertson says. "Becoming part of the EECS department will enable us to reach out to more students interested in FOSS (free open source software) or the OSL than we normally do. Sky’s the limit on what we are capable of doing with this migration.”

    One of the many ways the OSL promotes open source education is by attending conferences, and as one of the largest open source conferences, OSCON provides many avenues to do so with over 3,900 attendees and 100-plus company booths. At the conference, the OSL hosted a booth in the nonprofit pavillion, and students and staff enjoyed interacting with members of the open source community.

    “OSCON was awesome," OSL Student Developer Geoff Corey says. "It was fun working the booth and telling people from different backgrounds what exactly we do at the OSL”.

    Hosted by the OSL signs on the tables of our hosted communities"Hosted by the OSL" signs for the OSL's hosted communities.

    The OSL handed out placards to the many open source projects hosted by the lab that also had booths in the OSCON expo hall, visually demonstrating the impact the lab has on the open source community. In addition, several community members stopped by to meet the students and staff that support their projects, facilitate their downloads, or provide technical help.

    Corey thought “it was pretty cool how many big companies knew about us and our many services we provide to people showed how big our impact really is in the open source community”.

    On Tuesday night of the conference, the lab hosted an alumni party in appreciation of the students and staff that have contributed to the lab’s success with 50 guests showing up. Celebrating the OSL’s 10 year celebration, the OSL provided food along with a slideshow displaying the history of the lab and Squishymedia generously donated the use of their office space in downtown Portland to help in the party efforts. The atmosphere felt like a family reunion, as old friends reconnected and new employees were welcomed.

    OSL Party photoOSL Director, Lance Albertson, and past OSL Project Manager, Greg Lund-Chaix, speak about the history of the OSL at the alumni party hosted at Squishymedia.

    “Once you are a part of the OSL, you are always a part of it,” says Greg Lund-Chaix, Squishymedia tech lead and former OSL project manager. “I still use ‘we’ when I refer to the lab.”

    According to Albertson, the slideshow made him think about what it took to create the OSL.

    "The OSL became what it is because we had the right connections, opportunities, people, and sponsors at the right time," Albertson says.

  • Open Source Bridge Promotes Community

    Attendees at Open Source Bridge 2013Attendees at Open Source Bridge 2013 preparing for the conference.

    With the open source conference season well underway, OSL students and staff were excited to attend Open Source Bridge at the Eliot Center in downtown Portland from June 18-21. Now in its fifth year, the conference provided a unique opportunity for the open source community to connect and share with each other.

    Besides great vegetarian food, one of the ways conference organizers promoted a feeling of community was with the hacker lounge, sponsored by Intel. Comfortable seating, plenty of power strips and wifi, a 3-D printer and a Lego table added to the atmosphere of creativity. For OSL Director Lance Albertson, the hacker lounge was the most important part of Open Source Bridge.

    “It provides a place to start a conversation, work together and find out other cool projects people are doing,” Albertson says.

    Another unique aspect of Open Source Bridge is that it’s completely run by volunteers. This prompted Jenn Garcia, OSL student outreach manager, to volunteer this year; she worked as a session chair and assistant volunteer coordinator. Garcia was impressed with how friendly the open source community was.

    “My favorite thing about volunteering was the people I got to meet,” Garcia says.

    In addition to promoting community, Open Source Bridge offers valuable content during sessions. Conference organizers created five tracks for presentations: Culture, Business, Hacks, Cooking, and Chemistry. Albertson was impressed with the variety of content offered this year. Session topics he attended ranged from Leveling up in DevOps: the Art of Bad Shell Scripts to Hacking the Academic Experience.

    “I really enjoyed the diversity of not only the people attending but also the session topics,” Albertson says. “I noticed a wider variety of topics this year than in the past--from advanced technical to sociological topics.”

    Lance Albertson presenting at Open Source BridgeLance Albertson giving a presentation on how the OSU Open Source Lab mentors "rockstar" students.

    In the culture track, the OSL presented How We Mentor “Rock Star” Students, in conjunction with Portland State University’s CAT presentation Zero to Root in 12 Months. Albertson and Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett emphasized that mentoring college students involves much more than teaching code.

    “We teach students to collaborate with each other and with the open source community,” Albertson says. “All of our developers are on IRC, and our students answer user questions.”

    Lett explained that experienced students are encouraged to take leadership roles on projects at the OSL. Student-to-student mentoring fosters relationships at the OSL and helps students learn.

    “Students really blossom when they get to teach others about cool new things,” Lett says.

    Teaching others is an integral part of Open Source Bridge, and this year’s conference was no exception. The OSL staff is looking forward to implementing what we’ve learned--and to attending again next year.

    “OS Bridge continues to be the best diverse, community-driven conference in the world,” Albertson says.

    Conference organizers have already started planning the next conference, which will be held June 24-27, 2014. (Early bird registration is available).

  • OSL to Mentor Four in Google Summer of Code

    Students from India, Poland and the United Kingdom will work on projects for the OSL this summer.

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab has accepted four college students from around the world as Google Summer of Code 2013 participants. The four students will work on projects for the OSL over the summer with Google’s sponsorship and OSL staff members’ mentoring and supervision.

    The OSL has not had four GSOC students since 2010. OSL Director Lance Albertson attributes this year’s increased number of students, compared to only one in 2012, to a greater variety of available projects.

    “We had more projects that people were interested in this year,” Albertson says. “I think this year’s group of students is going to be pretty good; each of them have been proactive about contacting us and excited about working on their projects.”

    Polish automation control and robotics student Piotr Banaszkiewicz will be working with the lab through Google summer programs for the third consecutive year, and his project will focus on improving the modularity, packaging and installation of the OSL’s Ganeti Web Manager. Two students from India will also work on GWM-related projects; Ahmed Shabib Bolwar, a computer science engineering student, will add a GWM provider to Vagrant, while Pranjal Mittal, who is studying electronics engineering, will add visualization to clusters, nodes and virtual machines in GWM. A fourth student, Mark Antony Holland, who is from the United Kingdom and currently studying computer science in Spain, will work on incorporating functionality and user-interface improvements to the OSL-developed Android OpenConferenceWare app.

    The students will be mentored by OSL full-time developer Ken Lett, student developer Justin Noah and Albertson. Aside from having an array of time zones to accommodate this year, Albertson says working with GSOC students abroad is similar to collaborating with student employees in the lab.

    “It’s kind of like what we do with students here but compressed,” he says. “We’re interacting with students from all over the world, and understanding their cultural differences too.”

    Albertson hopes working with professionals through the Open Source Lab will help the students learn communication and teamwork skills, as well as offer them the experience of following a project through from draft to completion. And while they’re gaining valuable real-world experience, he says, the students will also be helping to advance development projects at the OSL.

    “Everything they do is going to be beneficial to the lab long-term,” Albertson says. “And I hope in their careers being able to say they had that experience will help them.”

  • OSL Staff Participate at DrupalCon 2013

    Open Source Lab staff members attended DrupalCon May 20-24 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. OSL attendees welcomed the opportunity to contribute and learn during the many sessions and social events.

    “It was so good to see everyone in the open source community, meet new people and reconnect with people I only see once a year,” says Rudy Grigar, senior systems architect.

    The OSL presented Put the Ops in Dev: What Developers Need to Know about Devops, a session to teach developers what they need to know about operations to improve the maintainability of their code in production. Grigar said that the session was fun to present, because they had good participation.

    “We had lots of good questions at the end of the session from the Drupal community,” Grigar says.

    Another session presented by the OSL was Empowering K-12 Schools through Drupal and other FOSS Tools. Greg Lund-Chaix, a former OSL developer who was instrumental in the creation of the Oregon Virtual School District, discussed how ORVSD benefits Oregon teachers and school districts. Lund-Chaix explained that ORVSD is a resource teachers can use to supplement their in-class instruction but is not designed to replace classroom teachers or provide high school credit.

    “This is a tool to do better, not a tool to do more,” Lund-Chaix says.

    In addition, OSL Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett discussed the ways ORVSD is currently being utilized by school districts and fielded audience questions.

    In the expo hall, OSL Director Lance Albertson was pleased to see the wide variety of technology companies using Drupal, which has been hosted at the OSL since 2005.

    “I thought it was amazing to see the different designs, deployments and unique ways Drupal is being used,” Albertson says.

    For example, Videx, an access control and data collection company located in Corvallis, uses Drupal as the basis for their electronic lock systems. The diversity of companies using Drupal demonstrates the popularity of the content management system and its continued growth.

    The OSL would like to thank the many Drupalcon event sponsors.

  • OSL's April 2013 Newsletter

    Below is a summary of the Open Source Lab's tri-annual newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, visit our sign up form.

    Letter from the Director

    Dear Friends,Lance Albertson of the Open Source Lab

    After working for nearly six years as the Oregon State University Open Source Lab’s lead systems engineer and the associate director, I became the lab’s new director in January. My involvement in the open source community began in 2003 with the Gentoo Linux distribution, and I am excited for the opportunity I will have to continue promoting and supporting FOSS in my new role. The OSL is unique for its heavy reliance on a student workforce to power the lab, and I plan to find new ways to further develop and expand our students’ abilities.

    This year marks the 10th anniversary of the OSL and we're proud to see what we've accomplished over the past decade. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who has helped and contributed to the lab during those 10 years. It’s amazing to think how much the lab has impacted the open source ecosystem during that time. We can only imagine what the next 10 years will be like, but I know that the lab will continue to be a key player in the FOSS ecosystem.

    In other news, the lab has been selected for a seventh straight year as a Google Summer of Code 2013 mentoring organization. I'm proud to see the lab participating in this program again and look forward to interacting with students from all over the world. In addition we had another successful Beaver BarCamp this past weekend with more than 150 people in attendance, including a regiment of at least 35 students from Portland State University and several past OSL students and staff. We look forward to having our next Beaver BarCamp October 12, 2013.

    In closing, I would like to thank all of the lab staff and students who work hard on a daily basis to improve the FOSS ecosystem. They do amazing work!

    Best wishes,
    Lance Albertson

    New Projects at the OSL

    The list of projects and communities the OSL supports through hosting and other services is always growing. Notable projects that have recently found a home at the OSL include:


    A thriving email community for women in computing, Systers has been connecting and supporting women in computer science since 1987. The project came to the OSL this year in need of a managed hosting provider with experience hosting Mailman mailing lists. The lab is now hosting two virtual machines for Systers, one for their production mailman lists and a second one for open source development of patches that will eventually become part of Mailman 3.0.

    Python Software Foundation

    Python Software Foundation logo

    As a large foundation, the Python Software Foundation has been previously scattered about various data centers around the world. PSF was looking for a more permanent home for many of its services and chose the OSL. The lab has hosted a Ganeti private cloud for PSF since spring 2012, and the project has continued moving various services to the OSL-managed cloud.

    Featured Student - Eric Zounes

    Eric Zounes, a student system admin at the Open Source Lab

    Eric Zounes has been a student system administrator at the Open Source Lab since June 2012. He works primarily on the Oregon Virtual School District project testing site upgrades and providing general system administration. Here, Eric answers some questions about his work at the OSL and what he’s planning for the future following his graduation this spring.

    What do you enjoy about contributing to ORVSD?

    The ORVSD project is a fun technical challenge since we are building our own platform as a service. I also enjoy providing service to the participating Oregon public schools. Facilitating the education system in any way is important to me.

    How has working at the OSL benefitted you?

    I've learned a tremendous amount in such a short period of time working at the OSL. Students are immersed in an environment where each of us are passionate about open source. Many of the problems we solve never come up in academia, so the amount of practical experience we get really complements the content we learn in classes.

    What are your plans for next year?

    I plan on working for Mozilla on their Web Operations team. I also plan on contributing to several open source projects and taking some time off to travel.

  • Students & Community Members Learn Together at Beaver BarCamp 11

    People gathering before the first session at Beaver BarCamp 11Students, community members and professionals gather before the first session at Beaver BarCamp 11.

    More than 150 Oregon State students, community members and students from other Oregon universities gathered in the Kelley Engineering building April 20 to attend the Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 11. Attendees presented nearly 50 sessions on a wide range of topics ranging from the technical to the recreational, including successful system administration, mead brewing and how to turn a T-shirt into a tie.

    The open, supportive atmosphere found at Beaver BarCamp encourages students and community members to come together, share what they know and learn from each other. After OSL Director Lance Albertson’s welcome speech, Beaver BarCamp participants created the schedule together, adding session titles to the board on large Post-it notes.

    Sessions can be changed and added throughout the day, a feature participants took full advantage of as sessions were juggled to meet group interest in particular topics. When a session on Raspberry Pi single-board computers presented by Ken Olsen, a software technician at Hewlett-Packard, outgrew the room it was assigned to, the group moved to a larger room and a second Raspberry Pi session was added to the schedule.

    Hewlett-Packard software technician Ken Olsen discusses Raspberry Pi and Arduino.Hewlett-Packard software technician Ken Olsen discusses Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

    “I like the informal quality of it because it’s open, it’s casual, it’s inviting,” says Nate Robison, a senior studying computer science at Western Oregon University.

    Several sessions at Beaver BarCamp 11 were designed for beginners or to help experienced coders expand their skills. Oregon State Ecampus student Bryon Burleigh drove to Beaver BarCamp 11 from his home in Bend, Ore., hoping to improve his coding skills. Burleigh is pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree in computer science and appreciated the opportunity to learn about open source and connect with fellow students.

    “I want to learn about version control in person, and Beaver BarCamp gives me a way to do that,” Burleigh says.

    Beaver BarCamp encourages attendees not only to learn, but also to share their knowledge. Because the unconference is open to everyone and doesn’t require registration, it’s a great way for everyone from tech professionals to students to share their passion and expertise.

    Contributors may bring slides or visuals to illustrate their sessions, but a formal presentation is not necessary. Oregon State senior David Fontenot, who is studying computer science, enjoyed this aspect of Beaver BarCamp. During his presentation, Emacs for Beginners, Fontenot spontaneously pulled up some of his homework online in response to a question and showed attendees some step-by-step techniques.

    “I like teaching,” Fontenot says. “I recently started focusing on Emacs, and I felt like I had something to contribute.”

    The Beaver Barcamp 11 session scheduleThe Beaver BarCamp 11 schedule displays the nearly 50 sessions held throughout the day.

    Sponsors Dice.com, Jive, Github and Silicon Mechanics funded the conference and made it possible for everyone to enjoy a full schedule of sessions, as well as refreshments and T-shirts. In addition, representatives from gold sponsor Dice.com attended Beaver BarCamp 11, allowing attendees interested in pursuing work as technology professionals to network with the premiere career hub for jobs in the tech industry.

    “Our website is catered to IT professionals in the workforce now and also future IT professionals specifically,” says Vince Maccario, a brand ambassador representing Dice. “We specifically want to support these students.”

    Looking for pictures from Beaver BarCamp 11? View the Google Plus Photo Album for user-contributed images of the event.

    Beaver Barcamp 12

    Beaver BarCamp 12 has been scheduled for Oct. 12, 2013. Visit the Beaver BarCamp website to learn more and sign up to receive updates about the next unconference.

  • OSL to Participate in Google Summer of Code 2013

    This year will be the lab's seventh straight as a GSOC mentor.


    Open Source Lab staff are excited to announce that the lab has been accepted as a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization for the seventh year running. GSoC is a valuable opportunity for collaboration between the lab and young programmers around the world. In the past, the lab has worked with students from China, Portugal, Venezuela and Poland, offering them mentorship and guidance as they complete tasks to advance projects at the OSL.

    This year, the lab has several development projects available for GSoC students to apply their skills to. As mentors, lab staff members strive to support student learning and offer an experience that will improve their future work in a number of contexts.

    “GSoC exposes young programmers to real-world development and introduces them into the open source community,” says Ken Lett, an OSL developer who mentored the lab’s 2012 GSoC student. “Being able to contribute real and useful code to real projects can be a very inspiring experience, and working on projects with professional standards and development processes will be useful for their own careers.”

    Students who are interested in working with the OSL in GSoC 2013 can learn more about available projects and how to apply at the lab’s GSoC mentor page.

  • OSL Staff Mentors International Students Through Google Summer of Code

    Real-world work experience is one of the most valuable things an employer can provide to students preparing to enter the job market.

    At the Oregon State University Open Source Lab, that experience is readily available to 19 part-time student employees who balance their coursework at Oregon State with a job that offers them professional training. But the lab’s influence on ambitious students reaches beyond Oregon State, and even the United States, through Google’s Summer of Code program. The summer program connects students 18 years and older around the world with mentors in the open source field and sponsors their work for the summer. As a GSoC mentoring organization since 2006, the OSL has had students from countries around the world, including China, Portugal and Venezuela, contribute to in-house development projects. Last summer, 19-year-old Polish student Piotr Banaszkiewicz collaborated with developers and students at the lab to refine tools for Ganeti Web Manager, a virtual server management program developed at the OSL.

    “This is definitely the greatest and most valuable experience I could get,” he says. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to get it at this age.”

    Banaszkiewicz implemented a daemon to provide metrics in Ganeti that can be displayed as a graph of data about the virtual machines the program is running. According to OSL Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett, who supervised Banaszkiewicz’s work, this addition to Ganeti will contribute both to the software’s usability and to future development.

    “This allows system administrators to view the state and history of the machines in their cluster in a very visual and intuitive way,” Lett says. “His work also created an infrastructure on which further visualization and analysis tools can be built. Writing flexible, extensible and pluggable code not only makes our work easier in Ganeti Web Manager, but will hopefully inform and improve his future work in any type of programming.”

    Piotr Banaszkiewicz Working with developers more than 5,500 miles away from his hometown near Cracow, Poland, Banaszkiewicz says, was only difficult because of the nine-hour time difference that meant staff members didn’t arrive for work at the OSL office until it was evening in Poland. But by connecting with OSL staff over Internet Relay Chat and sharing ideas through Google Docs, he says was able to learn from his mentors at the OSL and improve his knowledge about virtualization and working with Python and Vagrant.

    “I can see the OSL as a very pro-student organization, which I was delighted to work for,” he says. “There are some very passionate programmers, who actually were like teachers for me during GSoC.”

    Banaszkiewicz is unique among GSoC students the OSL has mentored in that he previously worked with the lab through Google Code-in, a program similar to GSoC but designed for high school students. He has been the only Google Code-in student to continue to be mentored by the OSL in GSoC. Performing tasks for the OSL as a high school student, Banaszkiewicz says, introduced him to the tools used in professional open source development.

    “I was a little younger and did not know many technologies used by the OSL team,” he says. “Now these technologies are obligatory in any project, and I'm very happy I could learn them so early.”

    Now, Banaszkiewicz is studying at the AGH University of Science in Cracow. He plans to apply to work as a GSoC student with the OSL again this summer and continue to expand his knowledge of open source development. The OSL’s continued participation in GSoC, Lett says, not only offers students a unique opportunity, but also presents a host of benefits both for the lab and the open source community.

    “Mentoring young open source developers bolsters the community we rely on, and helps make sure the new generation of open source developers comes in with real skill and knowledge,” Lett says. “It also creates connections that bring benefits back to us in the form of contributions to our projects, collaborations with other projects and relationships with developers around the world.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org To learn more about the students who gain real-world experience through the Open Source Lab, visit our staff page. More information about Google Summer of Code and how to participate can be found here.

  • Students, Community and Professionals Collaborate at Beaver BarCamp 10

    On Oct. 13, more than 150 people gathered in Kelley Engineering Center to attend the Oregon State University Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 10. Beaver BarCamp is a semiannual unconference that brings together students as well as community members to discuss technology, recreation and ideas in an interactive setting.

    Beaver BarCamp 10 featured attendee-led sessions on a variety of topics and was sponsored by Mozilla, RackSpace and the Oregon State University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition to sessions held by students on topics ranging from whistling to virtualization to playing poker, Mozilla employees presented three sponsored sessions on Web security, writing for the Web and building open Web apps.

    “All of the talks by Mozilla were really cool,” says Chance Zibolski, an Oregon State computer science student. “I really enjoyed getting to learn a lot just by seeing what other people are working on.”

    Beaver BarCamp 10 attendees share lunch and conversation in the KEC. Photo courtesy of Mike Morgan.

    The OSL’s efforts to further the collaborative nature of Beaver BarCamp was evident with the variety of students present, who came not only from Oregon State but also from Portland State University and the University of Oregon.

    “I was so happy to see folks from the community, PSU, UO and OSU come together in the spirit of learning and open source,” says Mozilla employee Mike Morgan. “Sharing and collaborating should expand beyond university walls, and this was a good example of how to make it happen. It made me feel a sense of community and goodwill.”

    While students enjoyed the opportunity to learn from professionals, presenters from Mozilla said they valued the experience of interacting with students at Beaver BarCamp 10.

    “Beaver BarCamp is a great way to engage directly with students on a variety of interesting topics,” says Mozilla’s Director of Security Assurance Michael Coates. “Over the past two BarCamps, I've been able to host a Web application security hacking lab. I've been impressed by the interest level and enthusiasm from attendees and am looking forward to future events.”

    Morgan says that the caliber of student participation in the sessions he presented on writing for the Web and building open Web apps confirmed for him that Oregon State students, both inside and outside the OSL, are highly skilled.

    “Oregon State Students are amazing,” Morgan says. “Our Mozilla interns and full-time hires from Oregon State who worked at the OSL work shoulder-to-shoulder with other engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford. Their work at Oregon State has prepared them for the real-world problem solving that Mozilla and other companies need from them. Coming to Beaver BarCamp showed me there are many more excellent engineers at Oregon State — they had great questions, understood the technology and are already well ahead of the curve.”

    Along with its characteristic variety of sessions — brewing beer, 3D printing and synthesizing sounds were just a few of the unique topics on the schedule — Beaver BarCamp 10 offered hands-on learning opportunities. While OSL Student Developer Corbin Simpson taught attendees to whistle with a little practice, workshops on virtualization and building applications encouraged those in attendance to break out their laptops and learn by doing.

    “I learned a lot about virtualization and I like that I can actually play with it,” says Brenn Kucey, a senior studying electrical engineering and computer science at Oregon State. “That’s what I like the most about it, that I was able to come in and see new areas that I can explore.”

    More interactive sessions, technical lessons and innovative ideas will come to Oregon State when Beaver BarCamp returns in the spring. Students and community members are welcome to share their own knowledge and learn from others this April at Beaver BarCamp 11.

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To learn more about Beaver BarCamp and get updates about Beaver BarCamp 11, connect with the Open Source Lab on Facebook or visit the Beaver BarCamp website.

  • From Support to Success

    When staff members at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab were working with creators of the Drupal content management system to provide free hosting services to the overloaded project in 2005, crisis hit. A server meltdown left all Drupal websites down for two days, emphasizing the project’s need for further support and motivating the community behind the open source project to donate double the amount needed to purchase a new server to be hosted at the OSL.

    As soon as the lab began hosting Drupal, two student system administrators, Narayan Newton and Eric Searcy, attacked the task of expanding the project’s overloaded infrastructure, building a cluster for Drupal’s websites that could be scaled with the company’s growth. And its popularity continued to grow. While Newton and Searcy handled the infrastructure needs, Drupal contributors were able to focus on the project, resulting in its size tripling following the move to the OSL.

    “Had the OSL not stepped up and offered hosting, we probably would have had to find hosting of our own and paid for it, which would have put too much financial burden on the project at the time and severely hampered the project,” says Jacob Redding, Drupal Association executive director.

    Over the next two years, students headed up an overhaul of Drupal’s infrastructure, adjusting solutions to meet rising growth and making Drupal more easily available for download around the world. Newton worked to optimize the database infrastructure, while Searcy used load balancers and multiple Web nodes to create a formidable Web architecture. When Rudy Grigar arrived as a student system administrator at the lab in 2007, the crisis period had ended, but he was able to continue Newton and Searcy’s work, developing new features for Drupal and using automated tools to increase efficiency.

    “It didn't sink in until a few months before graduating from OSU how big Drupal was,” Grigar says. “I had the opportunity to attend DrupalCon San Francisco and witnessed just how large and global the Drupal community had become.”

    While they helped Drupal attain the stability needed to weather extreme growth successfully, Grigar says the experience of working on the project was equally valuable for the students involved.

    “The industry experience is priceless,” he says. “It's an amazing thing to be responsible for successes and failures as a student with something as popular as Drupal.”

    Drupal Servers
    Drupal servers at the Open Source Lab.

    Now, Drupal has achieved both success and stability, and is one of the largest open source projects hosted by the OSL. While server overload is no longer a concern for Drupal, Redding says the association’s relationship with the OSL has continued to yield unexpected benefits, largely because of the lab’s commitment to training students through hands-on experience.

    “Over the years what the OSL has provided has been over and above just fair hosting,” Redding says. “It’s been a great environment where people can come in and learn about hosting and about open source projects. Had the OSL only provided hosting we would not have been able to get such great people to work on our team.”

    After working on the Drupal project at the OSL, Newton went on to work as an administrator in the Drupal Association, while Grigar spent time after graduation working on Drupal infrastructure through Tag1 Consulting and Acquia.

    “Without the OSL we wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn what we did,” Grigar says. “Not only were we able to help a project like Drupal grow as college students; we developed sought-after skill sets that we've used to spread Drupal and open source software to others.”

    Current student employees at the OSL continue to learn by maintaining projects like Drupal and by providing the more comprehensive support still needed by other projects that are in earlier stages of development. This service to growing projects, Redding says, is especially important within the open source community.

    “The OSL has always been an essential part of any project and has fostered the success and accelerated the growth of many open source projects,” Redding says. “It’s amazing that it exists. It’s almost necessary to have a service like the OSL; it’s a very rare, very respected resource.”

    Though Drupal has moved past the growing pains that brought it to the OSL, the relationship between the lab and the Drupal Association has deepened through mutual support. Dries Buytaert, the original creator and project lead for Drupal, serves on the OSL Advisory Council, and student employees gain experience by working on Drupal both at the OSL and as interns with Drupal and its partners.

    And the support the OSL offered to help Drupal reach success has had positive effects for the university as well. When the lab offered Drupal as a stable option, OSU began utilizing it for university websites.

    “The campus uses Drupal and benefits profoundly,” says OSL Director Curt Pederson.

    By switching to Drupal content management system and using open source tools for other needs including spam filtering and security, the university was able to save thousands of dollars initially, and continues to benefit from free and low-cost maintenance.

    The fact that Drupal no longer needs the intensive support services that were necessary when the project arrived at the OSL is part of the lab’s goal to foster the success of projects that will eventually be able to support themselves. According to Lance Albertson, OSL associate director of operations, the lab’s function to drive the growth of emerging projects is perfectly illustrated in the trajectory of Drupal.

    “We’ve had similar successes in the past such as our experience with Mozilla,” Albertson says. “They were in a bad position infrastructure-wise and our students at the time kicked in and helped them fix their issues. Many of those students and staff still work at Mozilla today in leading roles. Drupal is another great example of how the OSL helped a growing community expand, allowing them to focus on improving their project. Seeing the success and impact of the community around the world is the reason many of us at the lab love what we do.”

    As the lab works to promote the growth of the next generation of open source projects, Redding says he’s excited to see the collaboration between Drupal and the OSL continue to expand.

    “We’d love more people to get involved with our project and we’d love for them to come from OSU,” Redding says. “I think there are some really great opportunities there that you’re not going to get anywhere else. I can’t think of a single place in the world where you can get that kind of experience other than the OSL.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To learn more about how the Open Source Lab is working to drive the growth of open source software and support the lab’s efforts, visit our Donate page.

  • OSL in the Spotlight at Summer Conferences

    The open source community is driven by the people who use, change and support open source software. This summer, members of the Open Source Lab staff enjoyed opportunities to connect with those people face-to-face at annual open source events. Lab staff and students attended the Portland conferences Open Source Bridge and O’Reilly Open Source Convention, where they presented talks, hosted a booth to represent the OSL and talked shop with everyone from recreational users to industry developers.

    “Conferences are a way to interface with our community; not only our users, but people who know of us and like what we do, we can hear from them things that they want,” says OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson. “It's just great to be able to interact with people.”

    To kick off the summer, Albertson and other staff members attended Open Source Bridge, a volunteer-supported conference held June 26-29 at the Eliot Center in downtown Portland. Hundreds of community members, corporate representatives and people thinking about and contributing to open source gathered to share ideas and discuss technology. The annual conference focuses on the theme of open source citizenship, bringing individuals from a number of sectors, programming languages and backgrounds together to collaborate on what they all have in common: open source.

    At Open Source Bridge, Albertson presented a talk on private cloud platforms, Project Manager Greg Lund-Chaix spoke about open source technologies in K-12 education and student developer Corbin Simpson presented to a crowded room of more than 50 people on translating lessons from esoteric programming languages into methods for improving common code bases. Lund-Chaix then teamed up with Senior System Administrator Rudy Grigar and Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett to deliver a multifaceted presentation on DevOps. The three spoke from different perspectives in open source development, management and hosting to communicate a unified message about how collaborative thinking between developers and operations managers can improve project success.

    “Developers and system operations people need to understand both sides to perform their jobs more effectively and collaborate for better end results,” Grigar said during the talk.

    Kenn Wilson, a contract developer based in Portland, said after attending the OSL’s DevOps talk that the concept of integrating systems and development work wasn’t new to him, but that Lund-Chaix, Grigar and Lett brought new ideas to his attention.

    “One thing I did find really interesting is using something like cloud computing to test your system,” Wilson says. “That’s something I’ve never thought of before, to test your systems rather than your code.”

    Talks presented by the OSL and others at Open Source Bridge, Wilson says, are significant contributions to communal and individual knowledge.

    “You can learn about things you weren’t aware of,” Wilson says. “It helps everybody here in a very tangible way.”


    Lund-Chaix, Lett and Grigar field questions after presenting on the benefits of collaboration between developers and system administrators.

    That commitment to supporting the open source community won Albertson the conference’s highest honor at its official party June 27. Albertson was presented with the Truly Outstanding Open Source Citizen award for his efforts to introduce students to open source technology and the OSL’s continued support of numerous open source projects.

    “I think it's awesome,” Albertson says of his award. “I was completely caught off guard but I think it's a great honor to be able to have that award.”

    Albertson says he is passionate about bringing students into the lab and exposing them to open source technology because he appreciates how strong of a resource the OSL can be for students.

    “When I went through school I wished I had an OSL, and now I get to provide the resource I so wished I had to all these amazing students,” Albertson says. “It’s a great feeling.”

    Former OSL student employee Brandon Phillips, who attended Open Source Bridge and delivered two of his own presentations, says Albertson was an apt choice for the Truly Outstanding Open Source Citizen award given his integral role within the lab.

    “Lance has been a solid and steady hand inside of the OSL for years now, and it is an important role given the huge scope of projects that the OSL helps keep up and on the Internet,” Phillips says. “It is a well-deserved award.”

    After wrapping up Open Source Bridge, OSL staff had only a few short weeks to prepare for OSCON. Hosted by O’Reilly Media at the Oregon Convention Center June 16-20, OSCON continued the conversation about open source software that began at Open Source Bridge, but — with more than 3,000 attendees — on a much larger scale.

    The OSL was among nearly 100 exhibitors at the conference expo, which featured top open source industry partners as well as many open source projects hosted by the OSL. Students and full-time staff interacted with visitors to the OSL’s booth throughout the conference, sharing information about the lab’s current projects, explaining the OSL’s innovative integration of student employees and enjoying the opportunity to connect with other open source enthusiasts.

    OSCON attendees at the Oregon Convention Center.

    “It was good to interact with the corporate world and meet people professionally,” says Dean Johnson, a sophomore who began working at the lab in June. “People were really grateful for our mirrors and what we do, and it was nice to feel like what I’m doing here is making a difference and helping the community.”

    Many stopped by the OSL booth simply to meet the students and staff members who have helped support their projects, facilitated their downloads or provided technical support in person. Todd Richmond, who works in information technology with Lincoln County, Ore., already knew about the OSL’s services, but visited the booth to say thank you.

    “I use the OSL’s FTP mirrors daily,” Richmond says. “I think it’s a tremendous service, not just for other universities and governments, but for everyone. Having a regional site like that where we can grab security updates and things like that is fantastic.”


    OSL staff and students greet OSL supporters, users and alumni at the lab's OSCON booth.

    While at OSCON, Albertson delivered a talk on private cloud computing, and all of the OSL members in attendance hosted a Birds of a Feather session to introduce interested conference attendees to the lab and to offer those who already follow the lab insight on how OSL infrastructure continues to develop and improve.

    As part of OSCON week, the lab also held its first alumni gathering in appreciation of the students and staff who helped the OSL become the resource that it is today. More than 40 of the people who have been part of the OSL story gathered to reconnect with old friends, celebrate the lab’s achievements and honor the first director of the OSL, Shay Dakan, who passed away just over a week before the conference began.

    At the alumni event, OSL Director Curt Pederson, who has been part of the lab’s work since its beginnings, offered his thoughts on the group of people who have fueled the OSL’s progress over the years and his hopes for the future. Pederson emphasized the lab’s pristine track record for turning out students who go on to great success in the technical industry, as evinced by the caliber of people, many of whom represented top companies including Google, Rackspace and Mozilla, who were in the room.

    “The alumni event reminded me of why we started the OSL nine years ago, and that the true value of our work comes from providing our students with real industry experience,” Pederson says. “Having 55 of our former students now in key roles across the open source community confirms that the most important thing we do for the community is mentor the next generation of open source leaders.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To learn more about the OSL mission and find out how to support the lab's efforts, visit our About and Donate page. pages.

  • OSL Advances With New Staff Members; Renewed Focus

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab recently hired three new full-time staff members as part of a movement toward expansion as a self-supported campus entity. The additional staff members will provide comprehensive support in lab operations, allowing the OSL to increase student opportunities within the lab and improve the resources it can offer open source projects.

    The OSL is home to some of the most well-known open source projects in the world and facilitates more than 600,000 unique downloads each day. In addition to hosting external projects, the OSL also contributes to and develops open source software in-house and provides hosting for projects and Web infrastructure within the university. To support its efforts, the lab employs several qualified OSU students who gain professional experience managing open source projects, maintaining servers and providing customer and user support.

    Broadening the lab's staff, says Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson, will allow the OSL to enhance its contributions in all of the above capacities, particularly by providing the professional staff to supervise more student workers, increasing productivity in the lab.

    “The goal is basically doing more, giving more students the experience and the exposure in our environment,” Albertson says. “Full-time staff is really there to help students along the way and augment them, and the new restructuring allows us to hire more students.”

    In addition to serving as mentors to student employees, the new staff members will fulfill integral roles developing programming code for the lab and maintaining the OSL's hosting and support services. Hiring new staff has filled some of the gaps left by the departure of several full-time OSL staff members within the last year, Albertson says, and also allows the lab to begin the process of integrating its development and hosting teams.

    “The idea is to have our students doing both the operations side of things and the development side of things to give them more experience,” Albertson says. “The development team supporting the hosting side of the OSL will also improve our hosting services because they will develop tools that will allow more automation, which means we can do more with less.”

    With this plan for collaboration in mind, Albertson says the new staff members were selected in part based on ability to adapt and diverse skill in both software development and systems administration.

    New Senior Software Engineer Ken Lett exemplifies the multifaceted experience Albertson described, coming to the OSL after spending over a decade in various positions on the OSU campus. Lett has worked as a systems administrator in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, completed an undergraduate degree in physics as a student and worked with Central Web Services as a software developer.


    Lett joins the OSL as senior software developer.

    Rudy Grigar and Justin Dugger, who joined the lab as senior systems architects, bring varied experiences of their own to the OSL, both in the private sector and in educational settings. Grigar, who graduated from OSU in 2010, worked at the OSL as a student and went on to hold private-sector positions in systems engineering as well as operations management. Dugger has a background in educational technology services, having worked as an applications system administrator at Kansas State University and in source control management at Kansas' Johnson County Community College.

    In addition to adding Lett, Grigar and Dugger to the ranks, the OSL is also undergoing internal staff reorganization to better address priorities within the lab. These changes include Albertson's promotion from senior systems architect to Associate Director of Operations – a move that allows him to use the knowledge he's developed while managing the OSL's hosting over the past five years to evaluate the lab's approach to hosting and development tasks and implement new methods to promote efficiency.


    Grigar, who worked in the OSL as a student, returns to the lab as senior systems architect.

    Project Manager Greg Lund-Chaix, who has spent the last several years working heavily on the Oregon Virtual School District, is also refocusing his efforts within the lab. Lund-Chaix will still be involved in the virtual school district project, but will pass some of those responsibilities to others, allowing him to participate more fully in lab infrastructure planning, customer relations and student mentoring.

    These staff changes accompany efforts to secure the lab as a sustainable entity and to refine outreach to private sector partners. To enhance OSL communications, Albertson has begun adding students to the lab with the establishment of a team of media and marketing students. These students will manage responsibilities that were assigned to one full-time outreach manager in the past but have been unattached since the staff member's departure.

    “I saw that it was really an important role to have in our organization, but we can certainly do it with students,” says Albertson, who doesn't shy away from giving students the opportunity to fulfill varied roles in the lab.


    Dugger is serving as a senior systems architect in the lab after working at Kansas State University.

    As OSL staff work to optimize the lab's resources and place more emphasis on the value of the student experience, close mentoring and expanded student responsibilities will be essential to success. All of the new staff members will contribute to student development as students and staff collaborate to strengthen the lab. Lett says he is particularly enthusiastic about the opportunity to support student growth and the benefits capable students can bring to the OSL.

    “When I worked with students in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, I saw that we had some really brilliant students,” Lett says. “That made me appreciate what a resource we have in our students. I'm excited to be part of the process of teaching and fostering that talent.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To learn more about the OSL mission and view profiles of the lab's staff and student employees, visit our About page.

  • Building a Bright Future With DevOps

    Sometimes finding the best solution means starting over. That was Mike Cooper’s dilemma as he tackled his first solo project at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. An OSU sophomore studying computer science who had just been hired in March 2010 to work as a system administrator for the lab, he was tasked with securing a network connection that could be extended to laptops, allowing lab staff and hosted projects to connect to the lab's private network from anywhere. Cooper decided to scrap the previous method that others had planned to use to link the network servers and instead opted for a virtual private network, a transient link between servers that he felt was a better fit for the lab's needs.

    “When I started the project it was kind of hard for me to look at this and say ‘No, we should be doing something else’ and throw away all that work,” Cooper says.“But I decided that the approach they were taking wouldn't work very well for what we wanted.”

    Cooper felt sure that his proposed solution would be well suited to the lab’s needs. There was only one problem: He didn't have detailed enough knowledge of how the computers handle networking to complete the necessary steps to ensure the VPN was as effective and convenient as possible.

    “This was the first time I was working on something that people were going to use,” Cooper says. “If it was down to the point where I needed to learn this fairly complicated thing that usually you don't have to know for a project of my own, I probably would have gotten bored and wandered off to another project.”

    But that wasn't an option this time. Aware that his VPN design would be used by lab staff members as well as representatives from the open source projects the lab hosts (including worldwide leaders like Drupal, Apache and Linux), Cooper took the time to learn the complexities of the lab’s servers. With that knowledge, he was able to configure the VPN to operate in the exact capacity needed for the lab — a task he performed so well that the VPN is still in use today.

    “That was kind of my introduction to the OSL and what it means to have a professional-level service that you're running,” Cooper says. “I learned how our CFEngine system works and manages the servers, and I had take into consideration who our users are and what their needs are. I hadn’t done that before.”

    Over the next two years, Cooper continued to extend his professional knowledge as an OSL system administrator. He worked on servers, helped manage projects and communicated with representatives of hosted projects to resolve questions. As he gained experience with the lab, he also took on a mentoring role toward newer students, who he helped acclimate to the lab.

    “I've always been in a position where I like to teach people about technology, but doing it in a professional capacity definitely helped me grow,” Cooper says.

    For Cooper, collaborating with his peers and with professional staff members in the OSL was just as valuable as interacting with users and external project managers. “Being surrounded by experts,” he says, was both motivational and educational.

    “The contacts I made through the OSL really helped my education,” Cooper says. “The pace was much quicker than in classes because the pace is you learn as quickly as you can; not for the midterm next week. You don't wait to learn.”

    And that proactive perspective quickly helped Cooper find success outside of the lab as well. During the summer following his junior year, he landed an internship with ITA Software, a company that had just been acquired by Google. At ITA Software, Cooper worked in a development position, allowing him to round out the experience in system administration that he’d gained at the OSL.

    As he neared graduation this year, Cooper found his professional skills were so comprehensive that he was able to not only successfully interview for a job with Mozilla, but was offered a position as a Web developer, even though the bulk of his experience was in system administration.

    “During the interview process I actually found that my experience as a system administrator was very useful; I could draw on my experience as a system administrator to answer questions in a way they liked,” Cooper says. “It’s experience that most Web developers wouldn’t have. I know that without the OSL, I probably would not have gotten that job.”

    Switching to development in his career was another instance when Cooper recognized that his best option was to take a new approach.

    “I enjoy system administration, but I enjoy development more,” he says.

    For Cooper, finding work immediately after graduation in the field he is passionate about is a rewarding result of his experience at the OSL and the work he’s done over the last two years. The unique environment of the lab, he says, helps students find uncommon success.

    “It's probably been one of the best experiences that I've had so far, and it's probably the single most beneficial thing I've done as far as my career and my personal learning,” Cooper says. “Being in contact with a real environment and having permission to work autonomously is something that students don't usually get. We have a particular level of responsibility and a particular level of trust and that helps us grow.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To support the OSL and the student employees who help the lab provide top-quality hosting and development services, visit our Donate page.

  • Connect With the OSL at OSCON 2012

    Staff members and students from the Oregon State University Open Source Lab will represent the lab at Portland’s O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) July 16-20. An annual open source conference, OSCON engages all aspects of the open source community with sessions, tutorials, keynote presentations and an expo.

    The OSL will be present throughout the conference at the OSCON Expo, where the lab will have a booth alongside open source leaders like Drupal, Facebook and Intel. In addition, OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson will lead a session on open source private cloud platforms. Albertson plans to discuss the various features offered by different cloud computing platforms and offer insight on how to choose a platform that best meets a project’s needs.

    Those interested in learning more about the OSL will have the opportunity to meet members of the lab’s staff and familiarize themselves with lab operations at the OSL’s Birds of a Feather (BoF) session. The BoF is an informal meeting between students and staff from the lab and community or industry members who are interested in the lab’s operations, projects or future. The OSL booth will also present opportunity for OSCON attendees to learn about the lab. OSL student employees at the booth will answer questions, interact with the community and distribute OSL swag.

    While participating in OSCON, the OSL will also celebrate its first alumni reception, welcoming students and staff who worked with the OSL in the past and supported the lab’s success. More than 55 OSL alumni have gone on to successful careers in the technical industry, where they have joined top companies, created their own start-ups and made innovative contributions to open source technologies. Three of those alumni will lead sessions at OSCON: Deborah Bryant, the OSL’s former public sector communities manager; former Outreach Manager Leslie Hawthorn; and former student employee Brandon Phillips.

    For those attending OSCON, connect with OSL staff and students:

    Comparing Open Source Private Cloud Platforms, Lance Albertson
    Time: 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, July 18
    Location: D139-140

    Open Source Lab Birds of a Feather session
    Time: 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 18
    Location: E141

    Visit the Open Source Lab in the Expo Hall at Booth 816.

    Alumni Presentations:

    Free the Code: The Case for the U.S. Federal Government to Open Source Software as a Default Position, Deborah Bryant, John Scott
    Time: 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
    Location: E146

    Assholes are Killing Your Project, Donnie Berkholz, Leslie Hawthorn
    Time: 11 a.m. Friday, July 20
    Location: F151

    One Tiny Daemon to Harvest Your Server Statistics (And More), Brandon Phillips
    Time: 11:50 a.m. Friday, July 20
    Location: D139-40

    See the full OSCON schedule here.

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

  • Setting The Bar High

    Recap of Beaver Barcamp 9

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab’s Beaver BarCamp 9 brought around 70 people to the Kelley Engineering Center on April 21 to discuss projects, explore new interests and share ideas. The sessions held throughout the day varied greatly in topic — from robotics to hydroponic gardening to gaming — but all shared an open forum and flexibility that promoted discussion and collaborative learning.

    In Daniel Miller’s session, Indoor Hydroponic Gardening, he used diagrams and photos to demonstrate how he built a hydroponic gardening structure in his small room using materials purchased at a home improvement store. Nearly all of the 10 people who attended Miller’s session spoke at least once, asking for clarification about his methods, offering suggestions on how to improve the structure and even giving Miller ideas about what to make once the tomatoes he is cultivating are ripe. The most popular suggestions? Pizza and salsa.

    “I started doing indoor hydroponics just a couple months ago,” says Miller, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science. “So some of the input I got was good, like the idea of buying pipes at an irrigation store. You give and you get information here.”

    Attendees brought expertise in a variety of fields, culminating in immersive discussions both in and between sessions. When one member of a session group didn’t understand a concept, other attendees would assist the presenter in using a different frame of thinking to communicate ideas.


    Soo-Hyun Yoo, far left, answers questions about the robot-
    operating-system-controlled robots he built and programmed.

    Soo Hyun-Yoo, a freshman in computer science, presented his two robot-operating-system-controlled robots in his session, explaining how the ROS software runs his robots and demonstrating their movement with a joystick tripod he built himself. Hyun-Yoo, who has worked on his robots for 18 months, says sharing a project with others can provide helpful insights to the presenter as well as the audience.

    “It’s nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of, just a fresh set of eyes to find problems you don’t see yourself,” Hyun-Yoo says.

    This collaborative spirit is much the inspiration for BarCamp and its spontaneous nature. Sessions at BarCamp can be presented by anyone on any topic, and were proposed throughout the day by attendees who wrote their topic on colorful cards and taped it onto the event schedule. Participants were invited to follow their interests and attend whichever sessions caught their attention. While computer science and programming remained the interests shared by most BarCamp attendees, the diverse sessions allowed people to apply that interest to a wide range of topics.


    Members of Portland State University’s Computer Action Team
    present and demonstrate the automation software Puppet.

    In one session, representatives from Portland State University took to a KEC classroom to discuss the PSU Computer Action Team’s use of Puppet automation software and detailed how others could effectively utilize Puppet in system administration. Simultaneously, a radically different session was taking place on the lawn outside the building: How to Find Four-Leaf Clovers.


    Open Source Lab Developer Emily Dunham, center, and student Nick Snowhill search for four-leaf clovers with guidance from student Amanda Abbot, right.

    Amanda Abbott, a junior in chemistry, led the session, in which she instructed her participants in how to recognize a four-leaf clover in a dense patch of clovers and grass. Abbott has been regularly finding four-leaf clovers since elementary school, she says, and quickly discovered several in the grass near the KEC front entrance.

    “The best piece of advice is to find the thing that’s not a three-leaf clover,” Abbott says.

    While searching for clovers, OSL Developer Emily Dunham reflected on how the process could be likened to the methods programmers use to teach machines to recognize objects. The strategy of finding the object that doesn’t belong, Dunham says, is similar to how one would program a computer to identify four-leaf clovers.

    “I like the tools that computer science gives you for breaking things down and understanding the way a problem is solved,” Dunham says. “Because if you can explain something to a computer, you can explain it to anyone.”

    The impromptu application of technical thinking to other subjects prevailed during breaks between sessions and during the BarCamp lunch hour. While enjoying refreshments, participants took advantage of the opportunity to talk about new technologies and best practices in everything from programming to education.

    In addition to learning about each other’s interests, BarCamp participants also had the opportunity to attend a presentation from OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson about the lab’s projects and infrastructure. Following the presentation, which addressed what the OSL offers, how lab staff manage projects and why the lab utilizes particular organization schemes and materials over others, attendees were invited on a tour of the lab. According to Albertson, being able to bring interested community members into the lab and give people who may use software the OSL hosts the opportunity to see the physical location is part of what makes Beaver BarCamp a unique and valuable event for the lab.

    “It's a way for us to directly interface with the local community,” Albertson says. “It also gives us a chance to meet other students that might potentially be interested in working with us and have face to face conversations with them.”

    For most participants, the relaxed environment and diversity of topics at Beaver BarCamp are what make the event most enjoyable. Mark Overholser, who has attended BarCamp regularly since 2009, says he continues to come because the sessions are unpredictable but always worthwhile.

    “You never know what is going to happen but you show up because there’s bound to be something interesting,” Overholser says. “People get together and talk, share ideas, and you learn things you may not have thought of before. You have to take it on faith that there is going to be something great.”

    Beaver BarCamp is hosted semiannually by the OSL, which hosts some of the most well known open source projects in the world and facilitates more than 600,000 unique downloads daily around the world. The OSL presents Beaver BarCamp to promote idea sharing, collaboration and open source innovation, and will return with Beaver BarCamp 10 this fall.

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To support the OSL's world-class hosting and development services, as well as events like Beaver BarCamp, visit our Donate page.

  • Open Source, Open Future

    Students reap the benefits of professional programming experience at the OSU Open Source Lab

    As a freshman at Oregon State University in early 2010, Jordan Evans didn't have a lot of computer science experience. Though he had always had an interest in computers, Evans had come to OSU as a mathematics major and, like many first-year students, didn't yet have a clear idea of what he hoped to do with his education.

    “I decided I liked math classes better than I liked computer science classes, so I kept taking math classes,” Evans says. “I really had no idea what I would do with it. I knew what I liked but I didn’t know how to apply that to anything.”

    Two years later, Evans' career goals have undergone a radical change. Since June 2010, Evans has worked at OSU's Open Source Lab, where he’s built up an impressive resume that includes two years of professional experience as a system administrator, a summer internship with Google and knowledge of exactly what he wants to do in the future.

    “I think the OSL kind of shaped my interests,” Evans says. “Working here gives us a practical application for everything that we’re doing in classes.”

    Evans is one of 12 students working at the lab, which provides hosting and support services to some of the most well-known open source projects in the world. Students work alongside professional staff members to maintain servers, write program code and provide technical support for the software the OSL hosts.

    While the lab fulfills a valuable role at OSU by hosting various projects and helping the university reduce costs through open source software alternatives, its services make an even bigger impact on a worldwide scale, enabling more than 600,000 downloads daily and contributing to software like the Drupal content management system, Apache Web server and Linux operating system that individuals, start-up businesses and organizations around the globe use every day.

    Code for success

    But the OSL's greatest impact may be the ubiquitous effect it has on the students who spend years of their college careers learning and working in the lab. Nearly all of the students who have worked at the lab since its inception in 2003 have gone on to find immediate success in the technical world after graduation, founding start-up companies, receiving job offers from top software companies and enjoying the opportunity to define their own professional paths.

    With graduates at companies like Google and Mozilla, as well as at the helm of several successful start-up companies, the OSL has a habit of producing students who are prepared to skyrocket through the industry. The advantage, says Alex Polvi, an OSU alumnus who worked at the OSL throughout his college years, is the foundation of practical experience students are allowed to build in the lab.

    “The critical part is real-world experience, solving problems for actual customers with skills that are needed in the real world,” Polvi says. “You’re going to graduate with a job from here and have a real career path.”

    Polvi experienced firsthand the powerful impact a few years at the OSL can have on a developing career. While working at the OSL, he completed internships with Google and Mozilla. During his senior year he worked for Mozilla remotely from OSU, and the company offered him a job immediately after graduation. Polvi and two other OSU alums went on to form Cloudkick, a startup that drew several million dollars from investors before being purchased by a larger company.

    “I do not hesitate at all saying that my success is 100 percent because of the OSL,” Polvi says. “They set me up to have a successful career. Without that, I don’t know what I’d be doing.”

    A blend of mentorship and independence

    As a system administrator, Evans largely determines his own projects and has the experience and the knowledge to solve most of his own problems. While students receive a great amount of training from professional staff during their first several months at the lab, Evans says students who have been at the lab longer become mentors themselves, helping new students familiarize themselves with the work.

    “We’re still learning a lot, but we’re also able to teach others,” Evans says. “That really solidifies what we’ve learned. If we’re able to teach it to someone new and pass on that same knowledge, then we’ve definitely come to a point where we understand the skills and the technical knowledge required.”

    That shift in responsibilities is part of the process OSL Associate Director of Operations Lance Albertson hopes to provide students with throughout their time in the lab. Albertson gives students increasing levels of independence as they progress and lets them tackle problems on their own, offering support when they need it but first allowing them the opportunity to succeed without his help.

    “I make sure they have ownership of something,” Albertson says. “I try not to manage what they do as much as I can. If I give them a big project they usually take it on and they will immerse themselves.”

    According to Evans, the benefit of working independently as well as being responsible for collaborating with other students and the individuals who rely on OSL services goes beyond developing the competence to succeed in a professional environment.

    “I think it’s shaped me to do really well because it's taught me not only how to work in the field, but how to work with other people in the field,” Evans says. “In our job we have to reach out and communicate about projects, and it’s taught me to keep an open mind and to not be afraid to seek out a mentor in skills that I don’t have.”

    Graduating with an edge

    The OSL has continued to expand and play a significant role in the open source community in recent years, and currently provides at least 160 projects with various support services. Its contributions to the largest open source projects in the world include not only technical support but graduates who leave school uniquely prepared to benefit their future employers. According to Polvi, such students are an important resource in a rapidly growing industry.

    “The Open Source Lab is churning out students who are probably the most highly skilled people seen coming out of these education systems,” Polvi says. “We need more technical people and more students who can go out and get jobs, and this is such a great model for that.”

    Recognizing the value of the lab, leaders in the industry have responded with support that has made it possible for the lab to take on more projects. Further industry partnerships, Albertson says, are essential to allow the lab to offer professional experiences to even more students.

    “We basically give them a full work experience from the beginning, covering all the facets,” Albertson says. “Not only do they build technical skills, they build personal skills, they build professional skills and they have something tangible when they leave OSU other than a diploma.”

    Evans says he didn't understand how much of an impact working at the OSL would have on his future until he started applying for internships and realized how many opportunities were open to him because of his position at the lab. Now, he’s grateful for the advantage of working as a system administrator while earning his degree, and looks forward to that experience bringing him more opportunities in the future.

    “This really distinguishes us from other college students," Evans says. "They might have taken all the same classes we did, but we can put on our resume ‘I’ve already been doing this job for the past three years.’ That kind of trumps most things you can have on your resume at this point.”

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

    To support the OSL and the student employees who help the lab provide top-quality hosting and development services, visit our Donate page.

  • OSL ‘Unconference’ Approaches

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab will host Beaver BarCamp 9 Saturday, April 21, in the Kelley Engineering Center. The event is free and open to anyone, including OSU students of all majors and interests, faculty and community members.

    Beaver BarCamp is an opportunity to learn about an assortment of projects, skills and interests through discussion in an open, participant-led format. Attendees are invited to devise and lead interactive sessions that others at the conference can join. In the past, BarCamp sessions have focused both on computer and software development and on completely non-technical subjects. Topics have included writing software applications, learning Spanish, screenplay writing, the computer science gender gap, improving Web security and biking, among others.

    BarCamps are often described as “unconferences” that blend the informational element of a conference with an informal and participatory philosophy. Instead of lectures and presentations, BarCamp attendees can expect to learn and share their own knowledge through discussions and activities. BarCamp sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but participants can attend any portion of the day to join upcoming sessions. Those who are interested in presenting a talk can propose their sessions at any time throughout the day, though arriving at the beginning of the event to add a session to the schedule is encouraged for maximum participation. Refreshments will be provided.

    The OSL hosts Beaver BarCamp semiannually with events in the spring and fall to engage the OSU and Corvallis community in creative discussion and collaboration. The lab is home to more than 160 open source projects and facilitates more than 600,000 unique downloads each day. To support its efforts, the lab employs several qualified OSU students who gain professional experience managing open source projects, maintaining servers and providing support to the open source projects the OSL hosts. Many of those students will present sessions at Beaver BarCamp to share the knowledge and technical skills they've developed through their work at the OSL.

    For more information on Beaver BarCamp, including directions to the Kelley Engineering Center, visit http://beaverbarcamp.org.

    Media contact: Kayla Harr, harrk@osuosl.org

  • Highlights From Beaver Barcamp 8

    Beaver BarCamp 8 Quick Facts:
    • Number of T-Shirts Ordered: 100
    • Number of Raffle Tickets Distributed: 136
    • OSL Mugs Raffled Off: 6
    • Happy Recipients of Kindle Fire Door Prize: 1
    • Hero Sandwiches Consumed: 42' of Tasty
    • Awesome Sponsors: Mozilla, SAO Corvallis and Thumb Arcade
    • Cool Factor: 11

    The Oregon State University community shared its talents, knowledge and ideas this past Saturday, October 29th, in the Kelley Engineering Center during Beaver BarCamp 8 (BBC 8), an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.

    BBC 8 Schedule Grid and Registration Desk
    Staffed by Our Own Stalwart Project Manager, Greg Lund-Chaix

    More than 130 people met for the second and final Corvallis BarCamp of the year, hosted by the OSU Open Source Lab. There were sessions for many tastes at BBC 8.

    The OSL’s Lead Systems Administrator/Architect, Lance Albertson, hosted a talk about Ganeti and what people should know about its virtualization capabilities. Corbin Simpson, a veteran OSL student developer, let his nerd flag fly free with his own session, “Corbin Code: how to improve code maintainability.”

    BBC 8's flagship sponsor Mozilla launched the day with a web security workshop. Andy Rosic, CEO of Portland, ORE., based Thumb Arcade, treated attendees to a speed hackathon touching on Geo, Mobile and Augmented Reality.

    Mozilla's Michael Coates, Julie Deroche and Ben Kero Talk Shop with Student Attendees

    Some attendees took a different route by hosting non-technical sessions, including “Cheap Home Brewing” and “Planning and Cooking for Yourself to Save Money.” A good and delicious time was had by all.

    Attendees and those unable to come to BBC 8 were able to follow along on Twitter: @Beaverbarcamp. You can still check out updates from the unconference using hashtags #beaverbarcamp and #bbc8. If you are interested in attending future Beaver BarCamps, remember to sign up for the event mailing list or join our Facebook group.

    Our Very Own Student Developer, Emily Dunham, Models BBC8's Custom Swag

    Many thanks to all of our attendees for a fabulous BBC 8! Most of all, thanks to our generous sponsors, especially Mozilla, for their support of the event. We could not have made the day possible without your support!

    We'll see you at BBC 9 in spring 2012!

  • Lots of Love from LinuxCon

    You may recall our earlier article on the OSU Open Source Lab's plans for LinuxCon North America 2011. If you're following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen some of this great news stream by already. But we do have some great new photos to share, so read on in any case.

    The first ever Linux Learners Day was a resounding success. We welcomed more than 35 student participants to this day long track on all things Linux and open source. The best part of the day? Letting our attendees know that we could forgo the concluding panel session on careers if they were tired from 5+ hours of lecture and having them not only decline to leave early, but then keep the panel discussion going a full twenty minutes over schedule because of all the great questions.

    OSUOSL Staffers Wrapping Up the Linux Learners Day Careers in Open Source Panel

    We want to make sure the content we created is most widely useful, so we've made all the presentations available on Slideshare. The presentations are downloadable and Creative Commons licensed, so feel free to adapt them to suit your needs. Even better if you let us know that you used them for a course, Linux Users Group (LUG) meeting or just to learn more about Linux and open source.

    We were fortunate enough to have several of the lab's student employees join us for Linux Learners Day and the whole of the conference. Many, many thanks to the Linux Foundation for putting together specially discounted packages for student attendees of LinuxCon and arranging the LinuxCon or Bust Bus Tour to the event for attendees in Corvallis and Portland. And our sincerest thanks for inviting us to be a part of the conference program and to spread the Linux love amongst the next generation of computer scientists and technologists.

    Proud to Help the Linux Foundation in their Search for the Next Linus Torvalds

    You no doubt know that this year marks the 20th Anniversary of Linux, making this year's LinuxCon North America that much more exciting for all in attendance. OSLers were out in force at the Roaring 20's 20th Anniversary Gala at LinuxCon and had a truly wonderful evening. We were also incredibly excited to tour the 20th Anniversary of Linux Gallery and see the many artifacts of Linux history on display.

    OSUOSL Staffers in Full Gala Regalia
    Back Row: Tim Harder, Jeff Sheltren, Greg Lund-Chaix
    Front Row: Lance Albertson, Leslie Hawthorn, Deb Bryant, Peter Krenesky

    Last but not least, we capped off our time at the conference with an inside look at the OSL's operations. Lance Albertson, the OSL's Lead Systems Adminstrator/Architect, spoke on Hosting Open Source Projects at the OSUOSL. Not only did we get to give folks an under the hood view of how the lab provides core infrastructure for some of the world's most well-known open source projects, we even got Slashdotted. Victory!

    Lance Albertson on Hosting Open Source Projects at the OSUOSL

    Ed. Note: The Careers in Open Source Panel photo was taken by Linux Learners Day attendee Jason Barnett and is used with his permission. The Linus in Waiting Sticker photo is copyright the Linux Foundation and is used under a Creative Commons license. The OSL team group photo was taken by Linux Foundation photographers at the LinuxCon Roaring 20's Gala and is used with permission. The photo of Lance Albertson was taken by Deborah Bryant, OSL Public Sector Communities Manager.

  • All Aboard for Vancouver!

    The OSUOSL Heads to LinuxCon North America 2011 Next Week

    The entire OSU Open Source Lab team will be catching a ride on the Tux Bus next Monday, headed to Vancouver, B.C. and LinuxCon North America 2011. We're very excited to be leading all the sessions for the brand new Linux Learners Day, a full day of talks geared to students. The schedule includes:

    • Fundamentals of Open Source Development
    • Linux Basics
    • Introduction to Python
    • Embedded Systems
    • Careers in Open Source

    Linux Learners Day is one of the many ways the Linux Foundation supports students in pursuit of future careers in the Linux arena. Other efforts include Linux Training Scholarships, with the first round of scholarship recipients announced just yesterday.

    Our Stalwart Lead Systems Administrator/Architect, Lance Albertson

    We'll also be at LinuxCon the rest of the week to enjoy the sessions and the company of our fellow Linux and open source enthusiasts. While we're looking forward to many of the talks, we're particularly looking forward to our very own Lance Albertson presenting on Hosting Open Source Projects at the OSUOSL.

    Registration is still open for Linux Learners Day and LinuxCon, so if you haven't made arrangements to join us, there's still time to do so. Hope to see you in Vancouver!

  • New Study to Investigate Use of Open Source Software for Securing the Energy Industry

    Energy Sector Security Consortium and the Oregon State University Open Source Lab Partner to Establish Effective and Inclusive Collaboration and Governance Models


    CORVALLIS, Oregon - The Energy Sector Security Consortium (EnergySec) and Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) announced today that they will partner to perform strategic research on the current use of open source software in the energy sector, especially as it relates to computer security. OSUOSL will perform case studies looking at leading and influential organizations or projects, the tools they use and the challenges these groups have faced in adopting open source software.

    “We are excited to be working with Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab on this project.” said Steven Parker, Vice President of Technology Research and Projects for EnergySec. “With their earned reputation as a trusted, independent institution with expertise in open source software, we expect their findings will provide us with objective information regarding the use of open source technology in the energy community. This will allow us to better inform and serve our member organizations.”

    The project is designed to provide EnergySec with baseline data on the use of open source software in the energy sector, especially within the area of cybersecurity, and to produce an inventory of the experienced companies and groups in this space. The aim is to build up a significant body of knowledge regarding how and why energy companies and groups participate in open source, both as users and as contributors.

    “It is exciting for us to extend our research agenda and explore how open source software may offer new and exciting solutions to this vital sector” stated Curt Pederson, OSUOSL director. Pederson, whose early career included work in the energy industry, will guide the project team as it also explores ways to use open source practices to build a more cohesive community for solving the energy industry’s shared challenges.

    The studies are funded through the National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Organization, an EnergySec program partially funded by the Department of Energy and will be conducted over the next ten weeks with findings to be published this Fall. Organizations interested in participating may email Deborah Bryant, OSUOSL Principal Investigator, at energystudy@osuosl.org. More information on the project is available on the study website at http://energystudy.osuosl.org.

    About Energy Sector Security Consortium

    The Energy Sector Security Consortium is a private forum of information security, physical security, audit, disaster recovery and business continuity professionals from energy industry asset owners. Participation is national, including all regions through North America, with members from most states and provinces. In addition to its primary website, the group hosts a secure information exchange portal and meets on a regular basis to discuss current security issues, events, tactics and strategies relevant to the energy sector. EnergySec is incorporated as a non-profit organization and is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity. For more information, visit http://www.energysec.org.

    About Oregon State University Open Source Lab

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is the home of growing, high-impact open source communities. Its world-class hosting services enable the Linux operating system, Apache web server, the Drupal content management system and more than 50 other leading open source software projects to collaborate with contributors and distribute software to millions of users globally. Through custom software development, vendor partnerships and industry events like the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON), the Lab's staff and students encourage open source adoption in education, government, health care and other sectors. For more information, visit http://osuosl.org.

    About NESCO

    The National Electric Sector Cybersecurity Organization (or NESCO) is the first public-private partnership of its kind in the electric sector. NESCO serves as a focal point bringing together utilities, federal agencies, regulators, researchers, and academics. This group, along with domestic and international experts, developers, and users help to focus cybersecurity research and development priorities, to identify and disseminate effective common practices, and organize the collection, analysis and dissemination of infrastructure vulnerabilities and threats. NESCO works to identify and support efforts to enhance cybersecurity of the electric infrastructure. This program is being partially funded by the Department of Energy.

    Media Contacts

    Stacy Bresler, Vice President of Vendor and Industry Outreach, EnergySec, 503-789-5515

    Leslie Hawthorn, Outreach Manager, OSU Open Source Lab, 408-480-2918

  • A Little Love for the LUG

    The Oregon State University Linux Users Group (LUG) exists to promote free and open source software on campus. Its members and moderators turn to events like OSCON to find support from premier open source affiliates to help boost the group’s reputability at Oregon State University, and last week some OSU Open Source Lab (OSL) students —also LUG members— were treated to mass donations.

    An incredible 23 organizations and companies —listed below— opened their booths and handed the students boxes of t-shirts, books and other great gifts to help the LUG’s development this coming year.

    The OSU LUG Cannot Live on OSL Goodies Alone

    “At the start of the school year, you have a bunch of freshmen coming in being pulled left and right by all these different organizations,” said Emily Dunham, a sophomore developer at the OSL and LUG member. “We want to give the students more encouragement to try the Linux Users Group; see if getting involved with open source is something that interests them. We picked up quite a bit of stuff in that interest.”

    While LUG moderators will use t-shirts, stickers and the like to entice new members and create an eventful atmosphere during meetings, they also will utilize the large quantities of books and magazines organizations provided for educational means. No Starch Press, for example, donated critical material like How Linux Works, Book of Inkscape, Essential Blender and Ubuntu for Non-Geeks. MongoDB, ARIN, SourceGear and Linux Magazine also gave armfuls of useful resources.

    “We so sincerely appreciate their commitment to helping our assistance to the community,” Dunham said. “These aren’t necessarily the biggest companies and don’t necessarily have a lot of stuff to give away, and yet they shared with us what they thought would help.”

    The moderators are excited about this upcoming year. They hope to reenergize the LUG, and the donations will certainly play a major role in doing so.

    From the OSL and the OSU LUG, thank you to the following organizations for their amazing contributions!

    Ed. Note: This story was written by Anthony Casson, Student Writer for the OSL. Photo is his own.

  • Highlights from OSCON 2011

    Summer Camp for Geeks

    Students at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSL) get into a project development groove, especially during the summer months. They’re happy to exit the groove, though, when major open source events roll into the region.

    Expo Hall Floor at OSCON 2011, a.k.a. Summer Camp for Geeks

    A group of them took a break from their daily routines and traveled to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland last week for OSCON, now in its 13th year. Amidst dozens of booths, each with its own ornamentation – simple and extravagant – they wandered, hunting for stickers, branded flashlights and other free promotional garb, when they weren’t tending to the OSL’s own booth.

    Thousands of attendees flocked to the many sessions and tutorials. The OSUOSL’s Lead Systems Administrator and Infrastructure Architect Lance Alberson alongside Lead Software Engineer Peter Krenesky led one of each. The first was a tutorial, Hands on Virtualization with Ganeti, and Wednesday’s session was Ganeti Web Manager: Cluster Management Made Simple.

    Meanwhile, the students jumped from booth to booth with the masses to learn about new projects, startups and open source initiatives within large companies like Facebook, Google and Intel. The Lab’s OSCON newcomers like freshmen Emily Dunham and Alan Sherman were surprised by the varied relationships between attendees and the open source community.

    Alan Sherman and Emily Dunham Staffing the OSUOSL's OSCON Booth

    “I found it a bit interesting to get an idea of what the end users are like,” Dunham said. “It was a much more corporate image than what I previously associated with open source, but it’s a good reminder that it really is for everyone.”

    Alan Sherman and John Hawley Rocked the Softlayer Server Challenge
    The challenge? Repopulate 20 drive bays and plug in 3 sets of 6 network cables into their respective switch in as short a time as possible.

    Both Dunham and OSUOSL Outreach Manager Leslie Hawthorn attended a special part of the Google-sponsored lunch on Wednesday. It recognized women in the open source community.

    “I got to meet some really cool people there,” Dunham said. “It’s always kind of nice to know that being in a minority doesn’t mean you’re the only one.”

    For Corbin Simpson, one of the OSL’s veteran students and OSCON returner, the best part of the convention was the individual “birds of feather” sessions, held after hours.

    “They provide good opportunity for community members to actually discuss things without the format of the expo hall or the tutorials,” he said. “It’s really cool that they provided that space and that time for that.”

    Michael Downey, OpenMRS Community Infrastructure Lead, Sports a "This Project Supported by the OSL" Sign as He Walks the OSCON Expo Hall Floor

    Little Known Fact: The Portable Booth with OSL Sign Motif Was Originally Popularized by John "Warthog9" Hawley, Systems Administrator for kernel.org

    When they weren’t migrating to different spots, the students helped operate the OSL booth, complete with Ganeti Web Manager for users to demo.

    Candid as students often are, they admitted their Lab pitch to passersby became rather familiar. They appreciated the repetition, which in turn improved their knowledge of the Lab itself.

    “Figuring out what aspects of the OSL people are interested, and seeing just how many people had heard of it before gives me a lot better perspective of our place in the community,” Dunham said. “There are aspects of it that are kind of surprising. It’s surprising how many people haven’t heard of us, but then again it was really nice to see how many of the booths had a little OSL sign on their table saying, ‘We’re hosted here.’”

    The OSL’s impact on the community – the global OSCON community – was obvious. Students and professionals working together, in addition to supplying world-class services for projects of varying popularity levels and directions, the Lab held its own amongst large-scale corporations.

    “I think what the OSL does is remarkably important and is possibly the most important thing done at OSCON,” Simpson said.

    OSL Student Employees Alan Sherman, Emily Dunham and Corbin Simpson Enjoy the Hallway Track

    Ed. Note: This story was written by Anthony Casson, Student Writer for the OSL. You can see more awesome photos of the OSL in action at OSCON in Anthony's OSCON Flickr Pool. You can also check out more photos from OSCON from our Public Sector Communities Manager, Deb Bryant on Flickr.

  • Come See the OSUOSL at OSCON 2011

    OSCON 2011

    It's that time of year again in Portland, Oregon. It's sunny and warm — well, it is today — and the annual OSCON conference is just around the corner. The OSU Open Source Lab team will be participating in several activities at the conference, and we hope to meet some new folks, introduce them to the lab and our offerings to the open source community, and catch up with old friends. Here's what we're up to at OSCON 2011:

    Community Leadership Summit

    Several team members will be attending the Community Leadership Summit this weekend, including our Director, Curt Pederson, our Lead Developer, Peter Krenesky, our Outreach Manager, Leslie Hawthorn and our Public Sector Communities Manager, Deb Bryant. We're looking forward to meeting up with our fellow attendees and sharing collective knowledge about effective community care and feeding. Registration is still open and admission is free of charge, so if you hadn't planned to attend, there's still time to change your mind!


    Our dynamic duo — Lead Systems Administrator/Architect Lance Albertson and Peter Krenesky — will be holding two sessions at OSCON, one tutorial and one talk:

    You'll need to have registered to attend the tutorial, but the talk is open to all those who have an OSCON sessions pass.

    Expo Hall

    Come visit us at Booth 218 in Expo Hall D. We'll be demoing our home grown open source project, Ganeti Web Manager, and giving the community updates about our Supercell testing cluster. Better still, we have awesome new OSL swag to hand out. But wait, there's more — our stellar student employees will be on hand to talk about their roles at the OSL, the projects they're working on and how the OSL has better prepared them for their future careers in industry. Make sure to stop by!

    Puppet Labs Party

    Our friends at Puppet Labs have graciously invited us to attend their party and tell attendees more about the OSL. Attendees will be treated to free libations served in OSL beer mugs. Join us at Puppet Labs' HQ in the Pearl District at 8:00 PM on Tuesday, July 26th. No registration is required to attend, and you can find full details, including address information, on the OSCON site. The best part? You get to keep the awesome mug. Thanks once again to Puppet Labs for inviting us to be part of their soiree!

    We're looking forward to seeing you at these events or just hanging out with you in the hallway track!

  • OSL talks OSWALD and Ganeti at Open Source Bridge

    OSBridge LobbyThree representatives of the Open Source Lab gave presentations at last week's Open Source Bridge conference in Portland.

    The annual four-day conference is a public platform for open source developers to discuss various technologies and projects. Hundreds of people filed in each day to listen to the individual talks and share information with the open source community.

    Programmer Tim Harder gave the first of the two OSL project presentations on Tuesday afternoon, while lead systems administrator/architect Lance Albertson with lead software engineer Peter Krenesky presented on Wednesday morning.

    Harder's presentation, Lessons from and for the Open Hardware Movement (Slides - PDF), attracted two dozen attendees. The talk included an overview of OSWALD (Oregon State Wireless Active Learning Device) and observations from its time as an educational tool for students.

    The OSL developed OSWALD to help give Computer Science students at OSU hands-on experience in class. Freshmen students were given the device to modify; it was inexpensive, had the latest in technology from the mobile space, and was completely open for development. The project met some problems, including ones spurred by varied classroom experiences, support requirements, and students with different experience levels.

    OSWALD is suspended for now, until funds are collected and a new platform is discovered. But it’s an important learning tool for students, which is why the OSL has analyzed the problems in order to make the next device better suited for the college environment.

    "I think it's good to continue pushing for an open platform or something that students can do that’s actually related to real-world applications," Harder said.

    Harder, who handled much of the software development, says he hopes companies look at this type of project and want to help – mostly through supplying components – because it gets students familiarized with the same types of technology they would work with in the professional environment. OSWALD and future devices like it are advantageous not just for students, but for companies where those same students might work after graduation.

    On the second day of OS Bridge, Albertson and Krenesky gave their presentation, Hands-on Virtualization with Ganeti (Slides - PDF). Ganeti, an open source virtualization management tool developed by Google, is the launching point for Ganeti Web Manager (GWM), a web application that allows administrators and clients to access their Ganeti clusters.

    OSBridge Hacker LoungeMany OSL members are part of GWM's development – both students and full-time staff. The tool is still in its early stages, but it's growing. Wednesday marked the second year Albertson gave a presentation at OS Bridge about Ganeti; last year, it was about what it is; this year, it was about how to install and use it, and what the OSL has added to the project, in this case GWM.

    "(Ganeti) is active," Albertson said. "There are lots of new features. There are community contributions. There have been several large patches on the Ganeti proper project that we included."

    The OSL is taking some simple approaches to promoting GWM, like attending conferences, blogging, and talking to people about it. In terms of its function, increased setup ease has helped its popularity.

    "One of the big things that we've done is make it easier to get the project up and running, not just for end users but for developers," Krenesky said. "If it's going to take you hours to get it set up, you're going to turn people off long before they even open a source file, and you don't want that."

    "Everything's preconfigured. You just download it and it does most of it for you."

    Photos by Reid Beels - Used under Creative Commons License

  • OSUOSL Alum Eric Searcy Joins the Linux Foundation as IT Infrastructure Manager

    Eric Searcy, a former three-year student employee at the Open Source Lab, has picked up a new role at the Linux Foundation as the organization’s IT Infrastructure Manager. He will be in charge of maintaining and deploying systems, systems security, and keeping the Foundation's IT infrastructure up and running.

    Eric Searcy

    In Spring 2008, Searcy graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Computer Science. He immediately began working for Corvallis-based InsightsNow, a market research company, as its Infrastructure Architect. He was hired by Jason McKerr, then InsightsNow's Director of Technology and one of two people who founded the OSUOSL. If you've been following the news from Oregon's tech scene, you may recall that McKerr recently joined Portland based startup Puppet Labs as VP of Development.

    Taking the job at the Linux Foundation was an easy decision for Searcy. He gained valuable experience during his three years at InsightsNow and worked with some open software, but he says working for the Foundation means making an impact on the community he cares about.

    "It wasn’t like being at the OSL, which is a key player in the open source sphere,” Searcy said. “Looking at this job [at the Linux Foundation], I see myself back to being able to be part of that."

    “And it’s not just about increasing my industry exposure. It’s having more direct influence on helping open source.”

    During his time at the OSL, Searcy headed a roll-out of the centralized configuration management system – a year-and-a-half long project. He was also responsible for the web servers for Drupal.org and the OSL's monitoring and authentication systems.

    “It basically was three years of industry experience,” he said. “Being at the OSL was a larger experience than I would have gotten anywhere else. Even if I had gone into an internship [elsewhere], then you don’t get put in charge of the important things.”

    The OSL hosts the Linux Foundation’s infrastructure including websites, email, and development machines.

  • Out and About with the OSL in June

    Summer conference season is upon us, and employees of the OSL will be giving several talks. Kicking off June's festivities, Leslie Hawthorn will be discussing "Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software: Saving the World One Bit at a Time" at Southeast LinuxFest. The conference runs from June 10-12 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Leslie will be speaking this Friday, June 10th.

    If you find yourself in Portland, Oregon for Open Source Bridge, you'll hear from all our technical staff at the conference. Tim Harder will be covering OSWALD: Lessons from and for the Open Hardware Movement. Lance Alberston and Peter Krenesky will be giving a tutorial talk on Hands-on Virtualization with Ganeti. Open Source Bridge runs June 21-24th.

    We're also gearing up for OSCON 2011, but that's a story for July. We hope to see you at Southeast LinuxFest, Open Source Bridge or both!

  • Emily on Essentials: Robotics, Open Source and Life as New Student at the OSL

    Ed. Note: As part of our ongoing series of interviews with the OSL's student employees, this week we're bringing you the story of Emily Dunham, one the newest additions to the OSL. Emily joined us just over a month ago as a student developer. Emily was kind enough to share her thoughts with the Lab's student writer, Anthony Casson.

    Emily hard at work on her latest creation,
    which fetched the Artistic Design award at this year's Oregon State University Engineering Expo

    What year are you at Oregon State University?

    I’m a freshman in computer science in the Honors College.

    How was the transition from high school to college in Computer Science?

    The independence has been a whole lot of fun. But college has really exceeded my expectations. The classes, especially the Honors classes, are really good; the teachers really care about the students’ personal development, learning, and involvement. And I’ve had some awesome teaching assistants in my labs.

    You’ve been going to Beaver BarCamps since you were a high school student in Corvallis’ neighbor, Philomath. What keeps you coming back?

    BarCamp is fascinating just for the totally different paradigm of it. I had an opportunity to attend a normal conference as part of the Intel Learning Company, the freshman open source group that I’m involved with. After having done that, I started appreciating how unique BarCamp really is.

    How did you get a spot on the OSL team?

    I attended one of their sessions about being a systems administrator, and then spoke with the people who made that presentation afterwards about what I’m interested in and how it’s similar to a student job I held in high school. They invited me to apply, and so I applied; I interviewed. They told me I had gotten the job by the end of the week, and I started the next Monday.

    What interested you about the OSL?

    For a long time, I didn’t really know what the OSL was—didn’t know it was here—but I started hearing about it in various newsletters that go out to students, and at BarCamp. I started looking around. Almost every time I installed an application in Ubuntu I thought, ‘Okay, that comes from OSU OSL; that’s what that place is.’ I started paying attention to the neat things it does, the ways it’s involved, and then realized it seemed like a really cool place. After meeting the people here—they’re just really great people to work with because they absolutely love learning, and that’s why they’re in it.

    How has working in your new position been so far?

    On the Friday before I started work, I was talking to Rob McGuire-Dale and he said, ‘It’s a great job. It’s a really great job. It’s the best student job on campus, but be warned: the first week is just a fire hose of information.’ Everybody, though, really seems to enjoy teaching; I never feel like a question is stupid, and people are always helpful about where I can go to learn things—how I should approach them—they’re always happy to answer my questions. I’ve been learning really fast; I’ve been thrown into the middle of this Ganeti Web Manager framework, which is a mix of several languages I hadn’t worked with very extensively in the past. So it’s just been fascinating untangling it all.

    What are some skills you bring to the OSL?

    I personally feel like one of my unique skills is the ability to communicate—to translate ‘geek’ into English, almost—to write documentation for non-experts.

    What are you hoping to get from your time at the OSL?

    First off, during school, my classes make me realize, ‘Oh, it would be so cool to do something like that. It would be so cool to learn that language. It would be so cool to work on a programming project.’ But I never really take the time to do that. So on a personal level, the OSL is forcing me to take the time to learn new languages, learn the intricacies of how a certain computer, a certain software system works. And on the professional level, I could graduate here with three years of professional software development experience, and that is just a phenomenal opportunity.

    Has anyone in particular helped you along during the first few weeks?

    One person who has almost always been in the office when I am is Corbin Simpson, and he really enjoys teaching. He made a point that I understand the basics and how Python works. He really went out of his way to figure out what I know so far and point out specifics of what someone of my exact knowledge will need to be aware of about the new languages. He’s been extremely helpful.

    Does the OSL push you to develop your abilities, and does it help you learn new ones?

    I feel like their top priority is not just to get x number of lines of code written in a day. Their top priority is for everyone who works here to come out as a better software developer, even if they’re the best software developers around. They’re very interested in my learning. It’s just a whole lot of fun to work with everyone.

    Many thanks to Emily and Anthony for this interview!

  • Special Student Attendee Packages for LinuxCon North America 2011

    You may recall from our recent newsletter that the OSL team is organizing a student focused track at the Linux Foundation's upcoming conference, LinuxCon North America 2011. Dubbed Linux Learners Day, these sessions for students will be taught by OSL staff and will focus on fundamentals of Linux, embedded systems and open source community involvement. LinuxCon NA 2011 will take place the week of August 15th in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

    Conference registration is now open, and the folks at the Linux Foundation were kind enough to put together several discounted packages for student attendees.

    All Aboard the Tux Bus for Vancouver!
    • For students traveling from Corvallis or Portland, Oregon, the Linux Foundation offers a package including round trip bus transportation, five nights shared accommodation and registration for all LinuxCon NA 2011 session, plus Linux Learners Day, all for only $300.
    • For students who will make their own travel arrangements to Vancouver, B.C., the discounted registration and five days accommodation package is still available for only $300.
    • For students who will make their own lodging and travel arrangements, attendance at Linux Learners Day and LinuxCon NA 2011 has been discounted to only $100.
    • Linux Learners Day is free of charge for all student attendees.

    For more details, including how to register, please see the information on Student Programs at LinuxCon NA 2011.

    And once you're done registering, don't forget to check out the Linux Foundation's two awesome contests this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Linux. Creative expression on video or cotton welcome!

    Many thanks to our friends at the Linux Foundation for their invitation to collaborate on Linux Learners Day and for making arrangements for students to have affordable access the conference and lodging.

    We'll see you on the bus to Vancouver!

    Ed. Note: The Tux Bus image is courtesy of Flickr user notfrancois and is used under a Creative Commons license.

  • 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 http://lists.osuosl.org/mailman/listinfo/osl-newsletter

  • 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 OpenCompute.org.

  • OSL Newsletter: A Look Back at 2010

    We’ve had plenty of good things happening at the OSL since we brought your our last newsletter, and as we’re busy gearing up for 2011 we wanted to take a few moments to share our good news with the community.

    First, the best news: We’re Hiring!

    The OSL is hiring for a full-time software developer who will analyze, design, and test software code for Ganeti Web Manager, the Protein Geometry Database and several other homegrown Open Source Lab projects. For more details on the position and instructions on how to apply, check out the Analyst Programmer role on the Oregon State University Jobs page.

    Wrapping our Sixth GOSCON

    Producing the Government Open Source Conference has been a six year labor of love for the OSL team and, in particular, Deborah Bryant, our Public Sector Communities Manager. We were excited that GOSCON returned to Oregon for its sixth instance, and even more excited when the City of Portland declared the week of the conference "Open Source in Government Week." Attendees were treated to more than twenty talks on all aspects of the use of open source in government, from agency use cases to panels on how to meet the challenges of open government initiatives. You can find a full post-conference write up on the GOSCON website and stay tuned to all things GOSCON by following @goscon on Twitter.

    We've posted many of the slide sets from the conference presentations, and will be adding more as we continue to receive them from speakers. Stay tuned for an announcement that videos from the sessions are available, though you can already enjoy some video interviews with speakers and attendees from OpenAffairs. You can also check out talks from the world's first IgniteGov on YouTube, and you might be interested in Alex Howard's O'Reilly Radar write up on the talk "Why middleware is the key to a successful gov 2.0" from Portland's very own CivicApps contest winner and Code for America Fellow, Max Ogden.

    Developer News

    Our developer team has been hard at work adding new features to Ganeti Web Manager, putting out the 0.4 release on December 22nd. New features include improvements to the caching system, SSH key feeds, import tools and more. You can learn more about Ganeti Web Manager's permissions system on the blog of our Lead Developer, Peter Krenesky. For details on how the OSL uses Google's Ganeti to manage our clusters, check out the writings from our Lead Systems Administrator/Architect, Lance Albertson.

    We've also created a Twitter stream for Ganeti Web Manager news, @ganetiwebmgr. Follow us for more news and announcements about upcoming GWM talks.

    In addition to working on Ganeti Web Manager, Peter and our team of student developers have been hard at work on a new tool for researchers, the Protein Geometry Database. The PGD gives researchers robust and straightforward ability to analyze 16,000 non-redundant protein chains, their backbone conformation and geometry, as well as the relationships between them. You can learn more about the academic uses and the development process for the PGD in one of our recent news articles, or check out the technical documentation and source code at http://code.osuosl.org/projects/pgd.

    Google's Open Source Programs for Students

    The OSL has been a proud participant in Google's open source programs for students since 2006, our first year participating in Google Summer of Code. This year we had two students successfully complete their projects, both of them working on Pydra, a distributed and parallel computing framework for Python. Once again, one our student employees mentored for the OSL this year, with Corbin Simpson working with Bartosz Wroblewski on Implementing Map Reduce in Pydra. Brian Martin worked with Peter on a whole wishlist of features for Pydra's 1.0 release. Congratulations to Bartosz and Brian, and many thanks to them for working with us for Google Summer of Code 2010.

    In addition to our participation in GSoC, we were one of twenty mentoring organizations selected to participate in Google's second contest to get pre-university students involved in open source, Google Code-in. We're less than seven days away from the contest closing, and we've been incredibly pleased with our results: more than 30 tasks have been completed to improve Ganeti Web Manager, ranging from bug fixes, creating new features to improvements to the user interface. We've published an interview with one of our most prolific GCI students, Piotr, for your further reading pleasure. You might also want to read the post from our Project Manager, Greg Lund-Chaix, on the valuable experience provided to students participating in the contest.

    Many thanks to Google and their Open Source Team for sponsoring these great programs!

    Welcome to Our New Hosted Communities

    Over the past six months, we've welcomed more than ten new projects to the OSL, including:

    • Elgg, an open source social networking engine
    • FOSSFA, the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, a group charged with promoting the use of the FOSS model in African development and integration and adoption of FOSS in Africa's national policies
    • Funtoo Linux, a Gentoo Linux variant personally developed by Daniel Robbins, creator of Gentoo Linux
    • The Genomics Standards Consortium, an open-membership, international working body to promote mechanisms that standardize the description of genomes and the exchange and integration of genomic data
    • Mageia, a fork of Mandriva Linux, supported by a not-for-profit organisation of recognized and elected contributors
    • OAGITM, the Oregon Association of Government IT Management, a statewide association of information technology managers for City, County, State, and other affiliated government agencies within Oregon
    • OSGeo, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data
    • PDX11, a collaboration hub for the City of Portland, Oregon's economic development initiatives related to the software industry
    • Teaching Open Source, a vendor neutral collaboration site for professors, institutions, communities, and companies to come together and make the teaching of open source a global success

    The OSL and Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software

    We also welcomed two new humanitarian focused communities to the OSL family, CrisisCommons and the Sahana Foundation. CrisisCommons is a group of individuals collaborating on a commons-based approach to disaster relief and crisis management, most notably through their CrisisCamp events. CrisisCommons announced the move of their infrastructure to the OSL as part of their receipt of a $1.2M grant from the Sloan Foundation.

    The Sahana project was initiated by volunteers in the Sri Lankan FOSS development community to help their fellow countrymen and countrywomen affected during the 2004 Asian Tsunami in December 2004. Since its inception, Sahana has been rewritten as a set of modular disaster management tools, including a Missing Person Registry, an Inventory Management application and a Volunteer Coordination system.

    You can read more about Sahana and two other OSL hosted Humanitarian FOSS communities, OpenMRS and TriSano, in the December issue of the Open Source Business Resource magazine on Humanitarian Open Source. Leslie Hawthorn, our Open Source Outreach Manager, guest edited the issue.

    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

    About this 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 http://lists.osuosl.org/mailman/listinfo/osl-newsletter.

  • CrisisCommons is pleased to announce partnership with OSU's Open Source Lab

    CrisisCommons is a global network of volunteers who use creative problem solving and open technologies to help people and communities in times and places of crisis. CrisisCommons is pleased to join several other humanitarian free and open source software projects hosted by Oregon State University's Open Source Lab (OSL).

    The CrisisCommons community creates “CrisisCamp” events where volunteers of all skill levels can work across borders, languages and timezones to collaborate on projects, translate languages, build open source technology tools, and aggregate data to provide support for crisis response efforts. During the worldwide response to the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, this community organized 63 events across 8 countries with over 2,300 people participating to support such projects as Person Finder, a searchable database of missing persons, and Tradui, the first Creole translation application. The OSL has been part of the CrisisCommons community from the beginning, through the CrisisCamp Portland (CrisisCampPDX) event on January 23, 2010.

    Born from the adversity of the Haiti event, a grass roots CrisisCommons community emerged and grew throughout 2010. We supported technology work on crisis events throughout the year, including the Tennessee Floods, Gulf Oil Spill, and Pakistan Floods. We hosted the First International Crisis Congress in July, 2010, in Washington DC, which convened CrisisCamp city leads, experts in disaster management, and partners in the public and private sector together to outline our goals and agenda for the commons community. Our OSL partnership continued here too, as Deb Bryant, Public Sector Communities Manager for the OSL, was part of our Congress, and has been a key advisor to CrisisCommons ever since.

    One key goal global of CrisisCommons is to develop a commons-based approach to crisis management and global development that spans public and private sectors, NGO/NPO's, and other Volunteer Technology Communities (VTCs). We seek to do this by leveraging, supporting, or building through an openness mele of open source, open data, and open standards, and by exploring a research-based agenda to technology applicability in a crisis.

    Since the Congress, the community has been actively working on a foundation grant to continue its growth, and move beyond a grass-roots community. We are pleased to announce that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has awarded a two-year, $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the development of CrisisCommons. CrisisCommons will be funded for 2 years under the Wilson center to continue our work.

    A key step in this process is establishing a solid infrastructure to support our CrisisCommons community activities, hence why we are excited to expand our partnership formally with the OSL. We are delighted to be able to learn from experts in open source communities and provide scalable and reliable resources for CrisisCamp technology innovation and response efforts.

    Our work with the OSL will focus on the following areas:

    • Hosting and support of core CrisisCommons services, including our websites, wikis, and other community and knowledge/training resources for commons/community steady-state operations
    • Establishing foundational model for Crisis/Disaster based lab and research based open source projects to support technology innovation in this space
    • Establishing a model for specific crisis/disaster response technology hosting that are needed in a disaster event (surge capacity model)

    We are still new to this, and have so much to learn from the OSL and their wider partner community, but are excited to start our journey. We look forward to joining OSL and becoming a successful HFOSS project under their stewardship. One more forward step together toward lessoning human suffering in the world, and achieving opportunity for good through adversity.

    Looking forward to the future,
    Deborah Shaddon
    CrisisCommons Infrastructure Working Group Lead
    deborah at crisiscommons dot org

  • OSU Open Source Lab to assist young students in “Google Code-in” contest

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – High school students can soon participate in the Google Code-in Contest with the assistance of the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University.

    In this contest, which begins Nov. 22, students aged 13-18 will be provided with a list of tasks that could improve various open source software projects. The OSU Open Source Lab, one of 20 organizations participating in this initiative, will ask students to create logo artwork, write code, produce documentation, fix software glitches and do other tasks.

    Students do not need to have prior programming experience to complete many of the contest tasks.

    “We are excited to participate in the Google Code-in contest,” said Jeff Sheltren, operations manager for the OSU Open Source Lab. “We’ve mentored university students in open source development for the past five years in Google's Summer of Code program and had great success. We look forward to helping high school students engage with open source software projects and communities.”

    This project is one of several K-12 educational initiatives the lab participates in, including the Oregon Virtual School District and the TeachEngineering Project.

    In the Google Code-in Contest, successful participants will receive a T-shirt from Google and have the opportunity to win up to $500 for their submissions. Full details are available online at http://google-melange.com. To stay up to date on working with the Oregon State University Open Source Lab for the Google Code-in contest, people may visit http://osuosl.org/gci or follow @osuosl on Twitter.

    About the OSU Open Source Lab:
    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is the home of growing, high-impact open source communities. Its world-class hosting services enable the Linux operating system, Apache web server, the Drupal content management system and more than 50 other leading open source software projects to collaborate with contributors and distribute software to millions of users globally. Through custom software development, vendor partnerships and industry events like the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON), the Lab's staff and students encourage open source adoption in education, government, health care and other sectors. For more information, visit http://osuosl.org.

    Media Contacts:

    By Leslie Hawthorn, 408-480-2918 or leslie.hawthorn@oregonstate.edu

    Contact: Jeff Sheltren, 503-821-1280 or jeff.sheltren@oregonstate.edu

  • TeachEngineering Project Receives Award from NSF's National Science Digital Library

    At the annual meeting of the National Science Digital Library in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, the TeachEngineering digital library received a “recognition of excellence” award from NSDL. The NSDL is the National Science Foundation's online library of resources and collections for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and research.

    At the opening of this year’s annual meeting, chair Susan Jesuroga recognized the TeachEngineering collection as the most learning application-ready collection in NSDL. The recognition was based on an audit of quality criteria defined by NSDL as part of an assessment of the learning application readiness of NSDL’s 121 collections.

    TeachEngineering is a digital library of 900+ K-12 engineering lessons and hands-on activities. The lesson materials are developed by a variety of universities in collaboration with K-12 schools organizations and programs and are made available free-of-charge to educators. The TeachEngineering initiative is run by a collaboration of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Duke University, Worcester Polytechnic University, Colorado School of Mines and Oregon State University. The project is hosted at OSU’s Open Source Lab.

    For more information about TeachEngineering, visit http://teachengineering.org. For more information about the TeachEngineering project and the Open Source Lab, see our TeachEngineering Featured Project Story

  • Selected for Google Code-in 2010

    We are thrilled to have been selected as mentoring organization for the Google Code-in contest.

    Right now, we're busy getting our task list up to date on the contest website, http://google-melange.com.


    Greg Lund-Chaix has written a blog post aimed at educators about why he's excited to participate as a mentor for Google Code-in. Greg is one of the key figures behind the Oregon Virtual School District program.

    Student Information

    Students can begin participating in the contest on November 22, 2010. In the interim, now is a great time to peruse the Official Rules and the contest Frequently Asked Questions pages. If you want to talk your would-be mentors at the OSL, you can find us in our online chat room, #osuosl on Freenode.

    If you are not familiar with using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), you may want to try using the web based client for our chat room. Just visit http://webchat.freenode.net and then choose a nickname and type #osuosl into the Channels textbox. Try to choose a nickname that is easy to understand; it is much easier for mentors to get to know you - and take you seriously - if your online nickname is leslie or even giraffe rather than senoritasillypantalones.

    Other Ways to Contact Us

    If you're not a fan of online chat, then we recommend you subscribe to the Google Code-in mailing lists run by Google, and you can always reach us via email at gci at osuosl dot org

    If you're a Facebook fan, you can find updates on our Facebook page. You can also follow @osuosl on Twitter.

  • Leslie Hawthorn Joins OSU Open Source Lab

    CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is pleased to announce that Leslie Hawthorn has just joined the team as an Open Source Outreach Manager. An internationally known speaker and advocate for open source software development methodologies and community practices, Leslie Hawthorn brings more than 10 years experience in project management, marketing and public relations to her new role. She previously worked as a Program Manager at Google Inc, where she was responsible for the company’s open source outreach efforts, most notably the Google Summer of Code program and Google Highly Open Participation contest.

    Leslie has been honored with the 2010 OSCON Open Source Award and the 2010 National Center for Open Source in Education Award. She also serves on the NSF/CPATH Steering Committee for the Humanitarian FOSS Project and the Editorial Board for the open source Business Resource. She has previously served on the Advisory Board for the GNOME Foundation and most recently on the Program Committee for the first ever open source Track at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women In Computing.

    "We are thrilled that Leslie Hawthorn has joined the Oregon State University Open Source Lab," said Terri Fiez, Head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "Her extensive experience with managing programs that introduce students to open source software development will be a great asset to the university and support our new open source curriculum."

    Leslie's duties will include developing new programs to increase awareness and adoption of open source development in the undergraduate and graduate levels. As part of her immediate efforts, Leslie will join forces with Deborah Bryant, Public Sector Communities Manager, to focus on outreach for GOSCON, the Government open source Conference. She will also be working on marketing and fundraising efforts for the Lab, which serves over 100 significant open source communities and more than 6 million software downloads per day.

    “The addition of a full-time, committed resource focused on outreach came in response to a tremendous demand for the Open Source Labs services and expertise,” said Curt Pederson, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for Information Services. “The global open source community - academia, industry and government - provides a rich model for innovation through collaboration, in keeping with the University’s land-grant mission to build community. The Open Source Lab is one of Oregon State University’s premier contributors to this communal conversation.”

    About the OSU Open Source Lab: The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is the home of growing, high-impact open source communities. Its world-class hosting services enable the Linux operating system, Apache web server, the Drupal content management system and more than 50 other leading open source software projects to collaborate with contributors and distribute software to millions of users globally. Through custom software development, vendor partnerships and industry events like the Government open source Conference (GOSCON), the Lab's staff and students encourage open source adoption in education, government, health care and other sectors. For more information, visit http://osuosl.org/. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Drupal is a trademark of Dries Buytaert. Google Summer of Code and the Google Highly Open Participation Contest are trademarks of Google. Other company and project names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and projects.

    About Oregon State University: OSU is one of only two U.S. universities designated a land-, sea-, space- and sun-grant institution. OSU is also Oregon’s only university designated in the Carnegie Foundation’s top tier for research institutions, garnering more than 60 percent of the total federal and private research funding in the Oregon University System. Its more than 20,300 students come from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. OSU programs touch every county within Oregon, and its faculty teach and conduct research on issues of national and global importance.

  • OSL Newsletter - August 2010

    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 http://lists.osuosl.org/mailman/listinfo/osl-newsletter


    We were very excited to have OSCON back in Portland this year! Not only did this mean we got to share our wonderful city with many of our open source friends (Three OSLers live around Portland!), but Portland is also close enough to campus that we could bring up a number of OSL student employees and OSU CS students. It was great seeing our students meet people in the expo hall and share some of their experiences.

    The OSL was represented in a few different sessions at OSCON. Lance Albertson joined Justin Erenkrantz (Apache Software Foundation) and John Hawley (Linux Foundation / kernel.org) for a talk on scaling open source project infrastructure on a shoestring budget. Deb Bryant opened up the Health IT Track and led a panel on open source voting solutions as well.

    OSL Wine Tour

    Deb didn't stop at simply participating in sessions. She also received one of five O'Reilly Open Source Awards in recognition of her work in getting open source software into state and local government agencies. Please join us in congratulating Deb on this exciting award!

    We ended the week at OSCON with a small bus tour which took a group down to Corvallis to see our data center, and then stopped on the way back at Willamette Valley Vineyards for lunch and wine tasting. The wine was great, and the company on the bus was even better. We even did a network boot of Linux over the bus's Wi-Fi using boot.kernel.org. We've got pictures up on Flickr! Our thanks go out to Aruba Networks for sponsoring the tour.

    New projects

    We've brought in a number of new projects during 2010, including CONNECT, OpenEFS, Meego and OSGeo, just to name a few. For further information on projects hosted at OSUOSL, please see our Communities page.

    Donations update

    Give 6 program ends successfully -- We raised over $350,000 during the 6 for 6 program. Thank you all for your support! For more information on the Give 6 program and our future funding plans, please see our recent news story.

    Virtualization Migration Complete

    We have migrated all of our hosted virtual machines onto new hardware and management software. We are now using ganeti for VM management on top of KVM virtualization. We are currently running 65 virtual machines on four physical servers using DRBD to replicate disks between them for failover. The hardware is much faster than the previous virtualization hardware we had in place, and many hosted projects have noted a nice performance increase after the migration.

    GOSCON 2010

    This year, GOSCON returns to Portland, Oregon on October 27 & 28. The conference venue is the Nines Hotel, located at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. Early registration and the call for speakers are now open, and program tracks have been announced! More info on GOSCON, including a sign-up for the conference newsletter, can be found at http://goscon.org.

    Picture by Deborah Bryant

  • Give 6 Program Ends Successfully

    The Give 6 fund raising program which was launched last year has completed with great success. Friends of the Oregon State University Open Source Lab were invited to make a gift in honor of our sixth anniversary. Responses came from 88 unique donors representing 27 U.S. states and 17 different countries. Many donors added words of appreciation: "The support we've received, in hardware, bandwidth, and from the volunteers and employees of the Open Source Lab, have been outstanding." "By supporting efforts like the Open Source Lab, the university is helping teach, innovate, and support our future."

    We are happy to see such a great outpouring of support from our hosted projects, as well as individual and corporate donors. Thanks to all your support, we surpassed $350,000 in donations during the seven month duration of the program (December 2009 through June 2010). We exceeded $650,000 in cash donations for the entire fiscal year (July 2009 through June 2010) – this does not include the many in-kind donations that we received such as bandwidth and hardware.

    A huge thanks from all of us at the Open Source Lab goes out to those who supported us last year! We continue to rely upon donations to support our activities at the Lab, however we are working to establish other means of income so that we are able to continue providing services to the open source community without being completely reliant upon external donations. For example, we are experimenting with grants, paid development on open source projects, and other such endeavors which allow us to remain focused on supporting open source software around the globe.

    To make a donation to the OSU Open Source Lab, please see our donate page. Our supporters are listed on our members page and friends of the OSL page.

  • OpenConferenceWare-Android Launched for OSCON

    We are happy to announce that we've completed work on our OpenConferenceware-Android application to make it available for OSCON 2010. You can download the app to your Android phone to get access to OSCON schedule, maps, and more.

    Peter Krenesky, the lead developer of the Android application, has written a blog post with more details about the application including links to the code. You can also learn more from the OSCON blog post.

    Developers may want to jump straight to the OpenConferenceWare-Android project site.

    Heard enough and want to install it on your phone already? Either search for 'OSCON' in the Android Market, or you can scan the QR code above with your phone.

  • OSUOSL Speakers at Open Source Bridge

    We're always excited to see open source events happening, especially when they are in our home state of Oregon! Open Source Bridge will have its second annual conference June 1-4, and the Oregon State University Open Source Lab will be well represented at the event where five of our staff (plus one OSUOSL alumnus) will be speaking. We've got a lot of cool stuff going on at the OSUOSL and are excited to have a chance to share some of the things we've been up to.

    Want to hear about how we are handling virtualization at the OSUOSL? Lance Albertson will be giving a talk titled "Creating a low-cost clustered virtualization environment using Ganeti" which describes our recent migration to a redundant and easily scalable virtualization setup using the open source project, Ganeti. Come and hear about the ups-and-downs and other juicy details of our migration from the old Xen-based setup with central disk storage to the new Ganeti setup which uses local storage on servers combined with DRBD for redundancy.

    Maybe virtualization isn't your thing, but you'd be more interested to hear about interactive "touchscreen" displays such as the one we use in our data center to show network graphs, FTP downloads, and other general information. Peter Krenesky and Rob McGuire-Dale will talk about our Touchscreen application during their talk, "Building Interactive Displays with Touchscreen 2.0". This talk will show off some of the cool features of Touchscreen 2.0 which has been built using Django and jQuery.

    At the OSUOSL we host a lot of high-traffic websites. From an open source project's point of view, the more traffic to your site the better! However, from a system administration point of view, more traffic tends to mean more headaches as you try to keep sites fast and responsive during a flood of traffic. This can be especially challenging when dealing with dynamic web applications such as Drupal. Rudy Grigar and Greg Lund-Chaix have a talk titled "Making Drupal Go Fast with Varnish and Pressflow" which describes how the combination of Varnish and Pressflow can be used to cache much more content than a standard Drupal install -- leading to faster websites and happier servers. They will get into details about Varnish and Pressflow and give some real-world examples of similar setups at the OSUOSL.

    We're also very happy to see Alex Polvi, a former student employee at OSUOSL, come to give his talk: "libcloud: a unified interface into the cloud". Alex is the CEO at Cloudkick where they use libcloud to build their cloud management and monitoring services. libcloud is an Apache Incubator project which provides a unified interface into many cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Slicehost, and Rackspace.

    Hopefully you're as excited as we are to head to Open Source Bridge and check out these and many other great talks. See you there!

  • MeeGo Comes to OSUOSL

    As part a major effort and plan by the worldwide Nokia (Mameo project) and Intel (Moblin project) to share the MeeGo operating system code with the open source community, MeeGo has selected OSU's Open Source Lab as its infrastructure home. Today MeeGo is an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation that encourages community contributions in accordance with the best practices of the open source development model.

    MeeGo is an open source, Linux project which brings together the Moblin project, headed up by Intel, and Maemo, by Nokia, into a single open source activity. MeeGo integrates the experience and skills of two significant development ecosystems, versed in communications and computing technologies. According to the project's web site, they believe "these two pillars form the technical foundations for next generation platforms and usages in the mobile and device platforms space."

    The MeeGo distribution infrastructure and the operating system base from the Linux kernel to the OS infrastructure up to the middleware layer. The MeeGo architecture is based on a common core across the different usage models, such as netbooks, handheld, in-vehicle, and connected TV. The MeeGo common core includes the various key subsystems including the core operating system libraries, the comms and telephony services, internet and social networking services, visual services, media services, data management, device services, and personal services.

    You can read more about MeeGo at http://meego.com/about

    OSUOSL will provide hosting, infrastructure, and distribution support for the production environment for the project as well as the build server infrastructure. Now that MeeGo calls the OSL home, the Lab hopes to get undergrad students involved in software development for the project. Other hardware-oriented projects OSL students have taken part in include the One Laptop Per Child - OLPC - project.

    Photos of MeeGo moving day were captured by Senior System Administrator Lance Albertson and can be viewed on our Facebook page.

  • Drupal Association supports OSUOSL with $15,000

    The Drupal Association is supporting the Oregon State University Open Source Lab to the tune of $15,000. Specifically, $10,000 is being directed specifically towards paying OSL student employees to work on drupal.org infrastructure tasks. Our students have been instrumental in setting up and maintaining the infrastructure for drupal.org and related sites, and we are very excited to be able to dedicate more time to this important project.

    Additionally, the Drupal Association has committed to make a $5,000 donation to the Open Source Lab general fund. This money is used to support all of our activities at the OSL, for specifics, please see our FAQ. It is great to see a project hosted at the OSL become large enough that they are able to support the Lab with a monetary donation, especially as we celebrate our sixth anniversary with the Give 6 program.

    For more information about Drupal, see http://drupal.org Or visit the Drupal Association website at http://association.drupal.org/

  • TeachEngineering

    TeachEngineering is a digital library of over 800 K-12 engineering lessons and hands-on activities. The lesson materials in TeachEngineering are developed by a variety of organizations and programs and are made available free-of-charge to educators.

    Solar Cars

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is proud to provide hosting and system administration for the TeachEngineering website and development servers. TeachEngineering has become another great example of the use of open source at OSU.

    Development of the collection was motivated by the following:

    • To consolidate and make searchable a large amount of excellent curriculum that was previously dispersed over various organizations, and which was stored in different formats and different document structures.
    • All learning materials in TeachEngineering use engineering as the vehicle to study math and science. As such, TeachEngineering is meant to promote the use of engineering as a means for learning in K-12 environments.
    • TeachEngineering lessons and exercises are structured to fit teaching K-12 students and to provide K-12 science and math teachers with suitable and hands-on curriculum at no cost except their effort having to master and improve it. With this approach the collection developers hope to support teachers and students in poorer schools and districts.
    • All teaching materials in TeachEngineering are 'aligned' with the mathematics, science and technology K-12 educational standards of all U.S. states as well as with the standards formulated by a variety of nongovernmental national standard bodies. This should make it easier for teachers to find curriculum that fits the standards to which they must teach.

    Earthquake Proof Structures

    Besides its HTML interface targeted at people, TeachEngineering both exposes and uses a variety of Web services. Among these are services to expose its collection's metadata to other collections―try, for example, a search for the term 'spaghetti' in the National Science Digital Library ―and services from third-party providers that help with the automatic alignment of curriculum and standards.

    The collection and its software infrastructure are housed at Oregon State University's Open Source Lab and are almost entirely developed and implemented using open source software tools. Visit http://www.teachengineering.org for more information.

    Photos (c) University of Colorado, used with permission.


    This year, join us for a special one-day Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) DC on Thursday, November 5 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The program will focus on how federal agencies are using open technology in support of their agency mission objectives while reducing costs and creating a secure information technology environment. "Management", "Mission", and "Technology" tracks in the program feature outstanding agency and industry presentations. Government agency leaders and their key technology personnel as well as legal, procurement, planning, public information and social media staff should attend . Highlights from the program include:

    • Breakfast Keynote: David M. Wennergren, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information Management and Technology / Deputy Chief Information Officer US Department of Defense
    • Luncheon Keynote: David G. Boyd, Ph.D., Director, Command, Control and Interoperability Division Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

    A short list of agency presenters include:

    • Brian Guertin, Chief Patent Council, NASA Goddard
    • Sue C. Payton, Former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force/Acquisition Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense/Acting Director Defense Research and Engineering; President – SCI Aerospace Inc.
    • Daud Santosa, Chief Technology Officer, US Department of Interior
    • Vish Sankaran, Director of the Federal Health Architecture, US Department of Health and Human Services
    • Peter J. Tseronis, Deputy Associate Chief Information Officer, U.S. Department of Energy and Chairperson, Federal Cloud Computing Advisory Council

    Three conference tracks and a hands-on lab address a full range of timely management and technology topics. Agencies presenting include DOD, DISA, HHS, GSA, EPA, DOE, Department of State, NASA, OMB, CIA, NSA, NARA, DHS. The full conference schedule and additional speakers can be found on the conference website at http://goscon.org

  • Google Surpasses $1M in Donations to OSUOSL

    Google has generously donated $300,000 to support the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. With this donation, the companies cumulative support of the Lab has now topped $1 million.

    Google is a Platinum Sponsor of the OSL Alliance program which enables commercial vendors to financially support the expansion of computing infrastructure, hosting services, and software development provided to open source projects at the OSUOSL.

    The full press release is available here: Google gift of $300,000 to OSU Open Source Lab raises Internet giant’s support to more than $1M

  • OSCON 2009

    Being located so close to Portland, of course we at the OSU Open Source Lab were sad to see OSCON move down to the Bay Area this year. However, it remains a great convention not only for the abundance of wonderful sessions, but for bringing together so many open source contributors from all around the world. So, even though it means a bit of traveling for us this year, we'll be at OSCON next week -- not with are usual booth in the expo hall, but we will be participating in a number of sessions.

    On Wednesday at 2:35, Lance Albertson will be giving a talk entitled Server Management and Source Control: The key to scalability and teamwork. Lance leads our systems team which hosts some of the most well-known open source projects and communities in the world. Lance's talk will give you a chance to see how we handle automation for our servers using cfengine and git to allow for all systems team members to easily collaborate and push changes to servers.

    At 4:30 on Wednesday, Deborah Bryant will lead a panel entitled Bureaucrats, Technocrats and Policy Cats: How the Government is turning to Open Source, and Why. Other participants include Bjorn Freeman-Benson (DemocracyLab), Greg Lund-Chaix (OSUOSL), Clay Johnson (Sunlight Labs), and Aleksandar Totic (Open Source Digital Voting Foundation). This will be a great discussion on government moving to open source and transparency.

    Thursday afternoon at 1:45 will be the much-anticipated State of Lightning Talks 2009 lead by Josh Berkus. Always informative and entertaining, the State of Lightning Talks give a handful of projects five minutes a piece to update everyone on what's currently going on in their project & communities. Jeff Sheltren will be there to give everyone the run-down on what's new at the Open Source Lab this year.

    We look forward to seeing you there!

  • Catch us at Open Source Bridge

    Open Source Bridge starts today and runs through Friday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Most of our full-time staff will be participating in the conference, so please stop us in the hallway and say hi!

    Deborah Bryant will be speaking on Open Source in Government.

    Lance Albertson will be speaking with ex-OSL'er, Narayan Newton (now at Tag1 Consulting) on using "layers of caching" to scale websites

    Peter Krenesky will be leading our open in government" hackathon session at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower.

    Greg Lund-Chaix and Jeff Sheltren will be around to enjoy the conference and talk to people about what's going on at the Open Source Lab.

  • Hackathon at Open Source Bridge

    The Open Source Lab is organizing a Hackathon (code sprint) at the Open Source Bridge conference, June 17-19th at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. We’re bringing people together to help out Sunlight Lab’s Fifty States Project. If you’re interested in helping promote government openness and transparency, this is your chance.


    Part of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, Sunlight Labs is an open source development team that builds technology to make government more transparent and accountable. They have been building the Fifty States Project with the help of volunteers around the country. The project aims to provide parsers and an API for legislative data from each of the fifty state governments in the U.S. This is a local version of their already successful OpenCongress.org which provides the same data from the federal government.


    The hackathon will take place at the Open Source Bridge conference. Open Source Bridge is a new conference for developers working with open source technologies and for people interested in learning the open source way. It is an entirely volunteer organized conference. Open Source Bridge is providing a Hacker Lounge, providing a great environment to hack in 24 hours a day during the conference.

    The hacker lounge is located at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, 921 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, Oregon


    The hacker lounge opens at 9am on June 17th and is open round the clock until 12am, June 19th.

    • Project Intro: Anytime between 3pm - 8pm June 17th
    • Coding: any time till the end of the conference


    We’re looking for any programmers of any level, interested in promoting openness and transparency in government. No prior experience with the project is needed, but feel free to check out the project wiki. Fifty States is written in python but other languages are welcome as well.


    If you’re interested in attending RSVP at Upcoming

  • Hardware Donation Expands OSUOSL Infrastructure

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab recently received a large gift in-kind donation from a local Portland company which included approximately 20 servers, two NetApp filers with approximately 14TB of disk space, load balancers, and more. This is a very generous donation which will help the OSL replace aging hardware and expand our current infrastructure to support even more services and open source projects.

    One of the donated servers (pictured here), an HP dl580 with 20GB of RAM and dual dual-core Xeon processors has already been put to use as a community database server. The OSL is currently running five such servers which run MySQL and PostgreSQL databases for our hosted partners. Our database servers power such community sites as phpBB, Mozillazine, Linux Plumbers Conference, OpenOffice Extensions, BusyBox, Gentoo Forums, Kerneltrap, OLPC Support Forums, and many more!

    We're excited and very gracious for the hardware donation, and we already have many plans for the new hardware! Can you help the OSL by making a monetary or in-kind contribution? See http://osuosl.org/donate for more information.

  • Flourish! Open Source Conference

    Last month, Oregon State University Open Source Lab Operations Manager, Jeff Sheltren, headed to Chicago for Flourish! Open Source Conference, put on by the University of Illinois, Chicago. There was a great crowd at Flourish with a number of excellent speakers and demonstration/learning sessions going on throughout the two day conference.

    Jeff spoke about the OSUOSL including the history, current projects, and some of the cool open source projects hosted at the lab. There was a lot of interest in the audience about forming open source groups at other universities and potential collaboration with the OSUOSL.

    Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/9202804@N06/3409624367/ used with permission.

    Flourish plans to make video of Jeff's talk (and all of the other speakers!) available on their website in the near future. In the meantime, you can find Jeff's presentation on the OSUOSL here (odp format; pdf format). The presentation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

  • OSUOSL Visit to Japan

    Deb Bryant, the OSU Open Source Lab's Public Sector Communities Manager, was recently invited to participate in a number of events in and around Matsue City, located in the Shimane Prefecture of Japan. The region has drawn national recognition for the Matsue "Ruby City" project, a highly innovative initiative to promote open source software through a collaborative partnership created by local industry, academia, and government.

    While in Japan, Deb participated in a number of events to help share what the state of Oregon, industry, government, and the OSL has learned through its years in supporting the growth of the Open Source Community. The visit included meetings with Shimane University's President Honda; Matsue's mayor; Shimane Prefecture's governor; keynoting at a seminar for industry and government; addressing the 37th Open Source Salon of the Open Source Software Society Shimane; spending time with colleagues from Japan's IPA Open Source Lab (their national referendum on OSS); National Applied Communication Labs and Mr. Inoue and Matz.

    Many thanks especially go to Mr. Doi from the City of Matuse, to Mr. Noda of Shimane University, and especially to Mr. Tansho Deb's host and translator - and of course to Shimane University which sponsored the visit.

    Above you can find a picture of Deb Bryant with Yukihiro Matsumoto ("Matz"), the chief designer of the Ruby programming language. Nice OSL shirt, Matz! More pictures are available on Flickr.

  • Linux.com finds new home at OSUOSL

    Linux.com is now being run by the Linux Foundation and, along with most of the other Linux Foundation infrastructure, is hosted at the OSU Open Source Lab.

    The site has historically been a source for articles, information, and online forums about the Linux operating system. Under the Linux Foundation, the site will undergo a face lift in the coming months. An IdeaForge site has been launched at http://ideaforge.linux.com/ where you can view and make suggestions about what you would like to see on the future Linux.com site.

  • OSU Open Source Lab announces OSL Alliance Corporate Sponsorship Program

    IBM, Google and Real Networks among lab's industry donors

    Source: Jeff Sheltren, 541-713-3206
    Media contact: Todd Simmons, 541-737-4611

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Open Source Lab, home to growing open source communities, today announced the OSL Alliance™ corporate sponsorship program. The OSL Alliance enables commercial vendors to financially support the expansion of computing infrastructure and services that OSL provides to open source projects worldwide. Among its donors, Google and Real Networks have contributed $1.25 million to date.

    The Open Source Lab has provided world-class hosting and custom development for many of the world's largest and most far-reaching open source efforts, including the Mozilla Firefox browser, the Linux Foundation's main infrastructure, the Apache Software Foundation and the Drupal™ content management system.

    "We're grateful for the generous support of our Alliance partners," said Curt Pederson, vice provost for Information Services at OSU and chief information officer for the Oregon University System. "Their sponsorship not only enables the Open Source Lab to be self-sufficient, but allows our staff and students to extend OSL’s services to the next generation of high-impact open source projects."

    The OSL Alliance is a tiered sponsorship program offering corporate partners escalating benefits at each level of cash or in-kind contribution to the Lab. While the entry-level "bronze" membership starts at $10,000 per year, platinum sponsors at the $100,000 tier receive a customizable package of benefits that may include hosting services for designated open source projects, dedicated development resources or even named internships. For more information on the OSL Alliance program, visit osuosl.org/alliance.

    "The Open Source Lab provides essential hosting services and infrastructure for the Linux Foundation and many other critical open source initiatives," said Dan Frye, vice president of Open Systems at IBM. "The OSL's support is important not just to IBM, but to the industry and open source communities worldwide."

    "OSL developers played a key role in bringing our Helix™ multimedia player to the One Laptop Per Child system," noted Martin Schwartz, AVP for Digital Entertainment Products at RealNetworks. "We're excited to partner with the Lab in fostering the development of open source content creation tools and media players."

    "Oregon State University is a trusted resource for the global open source community, including a wide range of projects supported by Google," said Chris DiBona, Google's Open Source Programs manager. "We're pleased to assist the work of the Open Source Lab."

    In addition to the OSL Alliance announced today, the Open Source Lab also unveiled the Friends of OSL™ donation program for individuals and small organizations. Designed for open source community enthusiasts desiring to support the work of the Open Source Lab, the Friends of OSL membership starts at $25 per year. At each membership level, donors receive benefits ranging from t-shirts and recognition on the OSL web site and in collateral materials to passes to the annual GOSCON conference.

    For more details, visit osuosl.org/friends.

    - 30 -

    About the OSU Open Source Lab
    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is the home of growing, high-impact open source communities. Its world-class hosting services enable the Linux operating system, Apache web server, the Drupal content management system and over 50 other leading open source software projects to collaborate with contributors and distribute software to millions of users globally. Through custom software development, vendor partnerships and industry events like the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON), the Lab's staff and students encourage open source adoption in education, government, health care and other sectors. For more information, visit osuosl.org


    OSL Alliance and Friends of OSL are trademarks of Oregon State University. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Drupal is a trademark of Dries Buytaert. Other company and project names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and projects.

  • Reciprocity and Gentoo

    Donnie and Lance

    It's not an overstatement to say that Gentoo was integral to the Open Source Lab’s foundation. The Linux-based operating system was one of the OSL's first projects – it even preceded the existence of the lab – and was instrumental in building the buzz that put open source at OSU on the map.

    It started when Gentoo reached out to the open source community for help – it needed more infrastructure, and OSU provided it. "Web services donated an old Dell server, and from there Gentoo just grew and grew," says Lance Albertson, lead Unix systems administrator at the OSL.

    Gentoo, which was already popular with the open source community at OSU, is an ideal system for many developers because it allows them to install their own meta-distribution. Everyone who uses Gentoo can compile his or her own code, making it extremely flexible and customizable. "The community thought, 'if OSU is using Gentoo, it must be good,'" says Albertson.

    Word-of-mouth brought OSU enough attention to be covered in Slashdot.org, the site that bills itself as "News for Nerds." As more people learned about OSU's hosting capabilities, more people reached out to its open source community – and the Lab's reputation was born.

    "The OSL is unique," says Donnie Berkholz, an OSU graduate student in biochemistry and biophysics, and a member of Gentoo's leadership. "They help out these nonprofit projects when there's no one else who would provide these services without charging a lot of money we don’t have."

    Without the OSL's hosting capabilities, projects like Gentoo would have to scale back to the point that service to developers would disappear, or degrade to the point where it’s too hard for developers to work with.

    "Most universities will host a couple of boxes for you, but trying to coordinate among them is difficult," says Albertson. "At the OSL hosting these machines is a top priority."

  • Helping Drupal Grow

    When Drupal began to outgrow its infrastructure in the summer of 2005, its developers appealed to the open source community for help. OSL offered to host the equipment, and students Eric Searcy and Narayan Newton were put on the case.

    "We attacked the problem from two different angles," says Newton, who now works with Tag1 Consulting and is a member of the association that runs Drupal. Searcy, now a systems administrator at InsightsNow in Corvallis, dealt with the scaling of the Web side of Drupal while Newton worked with the database.

    They planned several tiers of attack, starting with two load balancers that became proxies that sent requests to Drupal's servers. It was easy then to know which server was up or down and to add new nodes quickly. The load balancers cached Drupal's Web pages, which would deliver older pages without needlessly taxing the Web server.

    Newton and Searcy also added more memory and a second powerful database server. "At that point things started to stabilize," says Searcy. "Drupal had a huge growth spurt during that period. Several times we solved things for a week. And then the demand would rise even higher to exceed the performance gains we'd made."

    In order to balance the needs of the database and front end, Newton and Searcy would help each other troubleshoot. "We'd have to communicate to find out where the bottlenecks were," says Newton. "Sometimes, if the Web server was the bottleneck, the database server wasn't seeing lots of activity and would be fine. The minute the bottleneck was removed, you'd throw a lot onto the other person."

    Both Searcy and Newton credit the Open Source Lab with providing them with real-world experience. "The opportunities on the systems administration side of the Lab for university students are unique," says Newton. "I can't name any other school that offers the same thing."

  • A History of Development

    During his time at OSL, Josh Schonstal has worked on One Laptop Per Child and recently has been spending his time on TriSano, a tool that will help the Centers for Disease Control monitor outbreaks of infectious disease, environmental hazards, and bioterrorism attacks. TriSano is soon to be deployed in hospitals throughout Utah.

    TriSano works like a front end for a database of information, Schonstal says. So when a health professional has a report to make, he or she gets a form that is separated into different concerns. The information is later accessible and editable to anyone with clearance to use the system.

    Josh Schonstal

    OSU senior Josh Schonstal was in second grade when he wrote his first computer program with his father’s help. As an eighth grader he was working with his friends on a basic role-playing game. OSU was the only school he applied to when he was looking for colleges, and that was because of the Open Source Lab.

    "I knew they hosted my favorite distribution of Linux," he says. "But I didn’t understand the caliber of experience I’d be getting. It’s really helped me grow as a developer."

    During his time at OSL, Schonstal has worked on One Laptop Per Child, and recently has been spending his time on TriSano, a tool that helps the Centers for Disease Control monitor outbreaks of infectious disease, environmental hazards, and bioterrorism attacks. TriSano was recently deployed in hospitals throughout Utah.

    TriSano works like a front end for a database of information, Schonstal says. So when a health professional has a report to make, he or she gets a form that is separated into different concerns. The information is later accessible and editable to anyone with clearance to use the system.

    "Ideally we want as many hospitals as possible to use this software," Schonstal says. "It will help with the Centers for Disease Control’s ability to control outbreaks."

    Mostly, Schonstal works on bugs and noncritical parts of the application alongside developers from Collaborative Software Initiative. "They’re really into development," Schonstal says. "They don’t sit around and wait until five o’clock rolls around. It’s really cool to get to work with those people."

    Schonstal isn’t sure what he will do after he graduates in the spring, but he thinks the opportunities OSL has provided have prepared him well. "The open source community is really merit-based, so people who contribute more are going to be well-regarded in the community," he says.

  • OSUOSL Hosts OpenMRS Development

    OpenMRS is an open source electronic medical record system framework. Led by the Regenstrief Institute and Partners In Health, OpenMRS has been implemented in several countries including South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania.

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is providing hosting for the OpenMRS Development Website including a Trac instance at http://dev.openmrs.org and the OpenMRS subversion repository. We are happy to provide services to OpenMRS and support their efforts in bringing usable medical information systems to developing countries where HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis are a major problem.

    "We've been growing the OpenMRS community for over four years now, largely building up our online community presence in our spare time. Fortunately, we grew beyond the point where this hosting approach made sense for us.  In our conversations with the top open source projects, Oregon State University's Open Source Lab was repeatedly introduced as a perfect transition strategy for an organization like ours.  I've found them to be the perfect balance of fun and easy to work with as well as professional when it counts.  We are confident in their ability to manage our mission critical code repository and online web presence.  I couldn't recommend them highly enough!" -- Paul Biondich, co-founder, OpenMRS

  • OSUOSL One of Nation's "Really Cool" Networking Labs

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab was recently featured in a Network World online story about really cool university computer network labs. This is a great honor for us, and we are glad to be in such good company. Some of the highlights of the OSUOSL included in the list were our hosting of projects such as the Linux Kernel, Drupal, the Linux Foundation, our development work on the Oregon Virtual School District, and our annual Government Open Source Conference.

    The Network World article is located at http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/121508-university-networking-labs.html?page=4

    For a full press release, please see http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2009/Jan09/opensourcelab.html

  • New Open Source Government Communities Come Together at GOSCON

    On October 22, 2008, government and private industry experts will debate the issues and opportunities presented by collaborative software development models at the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON) in Portland, Ore. The distinguished panelists have direct experience with successful public/private consortiums based on the open source software model in which developers as well as business and technical users collaborate to create new applications while sharing both the costs and the benefits.

    "The advantages to moving to an open source model for government software would not just be lower costs and better knowledge sharing across the public sector; it might also take us closer to the level of access, transparency and flexibility that the public is starting to demand from its governments, said Brian Belhendorf, CollabNet founder and Mozilla board director. "Software development is at its core a collaborative process -- collaborative between developers, even those working on different projects, and collaborative between developers and users. The ‘big deal' about the Open Source model is that it recognizes this fact and makes it possible to move away from treating every project as an isolated endeavor. I look forward to being a part of this conversation."

    The "Open Government Collaboratives" panel will be led by Oregon Department of Transportation Chief Information Officer Benjamin Berry and Newport News, Virginia IT Director Andy Stein. The duo brings years of experience in early adoption of open source software and models in government environments. Their goal is to draw the audience -- primarily state, local and national goverment IT management -- into the session and extract a reference model for additional communities on the spot.

    GOSCON is organized by the OSL. The conference is part of its mission to education and support community.

  • rpm.org and yum move to OSUOSL

    The Oregon State University Open Source Lab is proud to be the new home for two very important OSS projects. We are now hosting the main web sites, ticket trackers, code repositories, and mailing lists for RPM and yum.

    RPM is the package management system used by many Linux distributions including RedHat Enterprise, Fedora, SUSE, CentOS, Mandriva, and many others. The RPM format is also part of the Linux Standards Base.

    Yum is a package installer/remover for RPM-based systems, and does all the work to calculate dependencies for packages that you want to install or remove. Yum is the default package manager for RedHat Enterprise, Fedora and CentOS Linux distributions. In addition to yum, the OSUOSL is also hosting development sites for yum-utils, a collection of utilities and scripts built around yum, and createrepo, the program which creates metadata used in package repositories (supported by yum, apt-rpm, red-carpet, smart, up2date, and yast).

    The sites for RPM and yum can be found at http://rpm.org and http://yum.baseurl.org, respectively.

  • A look back at the OSL's partnerships with Google and TDS

    As the Open Source Lab celebrates a decade of open source hosting, development and education, the lab is reflecting on its past accomplishments. Below is a favorite from our archives.

    OSL Teams with TDS for Bandwidth Increase
    Originally published on March 06, 2006

    The Open Source Lab at Oregon State University has received a large donation of Internet bandwidth from TDS Telecom that will allow it to more than double the number of visitors it can serve, in the future helping up to 50 million people a day review or download free software.

    For a five-year period, the Open Source Lab will receive 600 megabits of bandwidth - a volume of Internet connectivity that is more than five times higher than the total used by the rest of the university. In addition, OSU servers will be hosted in a TDS Data Center.

    “This gift from TDS Telecom really allows OSU to continue its integrated efforts in education, research, and outreach in the Open Source space. The increased bandwidth gives OSU strong reach into many of the communities it serves,” said Ed Ray, President of Oregon State University.

    TDS Telecom is a major telephone and Internet services provider. Their donation of bandwidth to OSU will help TDS balance the volume of data they share back and forth with other networks, which is necessary for the smooth operation of the global Internet system.

    OSU's Open Source Lab is a national leader in the exchange of open source software. OSU, for instance, is one of the main distributor's of Mozilla Firefox, a popular Web browser that is widely used around the world. Often without realizing it, people who download Mozilla Firefox to their computers are going through an OSU laboratory. The TDS donation will enable OSU to provide more highly demanded content. "TDS Telecom believes in the work we're doing with the open source software community, and they know this bandwidth will be put to a very good use,” said Scott Kveton, director of the Open Source Laboratory at OSU. "This will allow us to significantly expand our impact, visibility, and services.”

    Unlike proprietary systems that are purchased from individual companies, open source software is generally free to anyone. Its code or blueprints are available to work with, improve, customize for individual needs, and pass along to the next user. This collaborative process often results in software of very high quality, and the concept is rapidly gaining interest in the consumer and business communities.

    The new TDS donation, Kveton said, should allow the Open Source Lab to expand the software services it can host and provide freely to others. The laboratory is already actively working with the Pacific Northwest and national business community, helping to educate business leaders about the wide range of software available through open source - everything from word processing to spreadsheets, Web browsing and other needs. And one of the facility's best customers is the university itself, which has saved significant amounts of money by using open source software for more than half of its operations.

  • A look back at Mozilla Firefox 1.0

    As the Open Source Lab celebrates a decade of open source hosting, development and education, the lab is reflecting on its past accomplishments. Below is a favorite from our archives.

    OSL Hosting Popular New Firefox Web Browser
    Originally posted on November 16, 2004

    Mozilla’s Firefox 1.0, the newly released Web browser available at www.mozilla.org, is living quietly in the Oregon State University Open Source Lab. The Open Source Lab is a world-class facility and data center for Open Source Software (OSS) knowledge, hosting, infrastructure, development and collaboration.

    Creating an atmosphere of innovation and creativity for students, faculty and staff is a critical piece of the OSL's mission. “Collaborations there provide new and innovative solutions that would not have been possible without its growing success,” said Curt Pederson, vice provost for Information Services. “The Open Source Lab continues to save the University money at a time of decreasing state resources.” OSU hosts the software update services, website and download redirector for Mozilla.

    “The open source lab played a big part in our Firefox 1.0 launch with over one million downloads on its first day of availability,” said Chris Hofmann, Mozilla Foundation’s Director of Engineering. Firefox 1.0, available for the Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems in more than a dozen languages, is the result of two years of work by literally hundreds of programmers. The browser is an absolute joy to use - smart, fast and very user-friendly, while still offering a multitude of advanced programmable and customizable functions for those who want to tinker.

    “We began collaborating with Mozilla because we have been mirroring several other open source projects for many years,” said Scott Kveton, Associate Director at OSL. “We have helped them grow to over 40 mirrors across the globe and have developed tools with them to spread the load across all of those mirrors in a reliable fashion. In the past week there have been about 4 million downloads of Firefox 1.0”

    The Mozilla Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization, is dedicated to developing open source software that provides users with choice and improved web experiences. Mozilla has already made considerable inroads into the browser market. Firefox features a pop-up ad blocker, online fraud protection and the ability to display several web pages in a single window, using "tabbed browsing."

    “OSU's Open Source Lab has already helped the University save thousands of dollars by coming up with new solutions to otherwise expensive problems,” said OSU Provost and Executive Vice President, Sabah Randawah. Scott Kveton couldn’t agree more. “Mozilla is covering the cost of bandwidth and equipment hosted here at OSU and we are offering up our expertise as well as student help to provide these services,” he said. “OSU’s hosting efforts have resulted in several donations from open source users in the community. We are always looking for more donations to help provide support for some of the bigger open source projects that need world-class facilities to deliver their software to the masses.”

    Perhaps the most important thing about these projects is what they bring to OSU in terms of human capital. “This has helped make OSU the home of open source by being able to help projects such as Mozilla,” continued Kveton. “Having Mozilla hosted at OSU has opened up some fantastic learning opportunities for students as well as added to the synergy occurring here. On Tuesday Mozilla Firefox had approximately 100 million hits across 7 million unique visitors. The Gentoo Linux community jumped in to help build out some machines that were hosted at the open source lab to handle the increased traffic. Without this kind of collaboration we wouldn't have been able to pull off the 1.0 release.”

    OSU’s strategic plan states, “In today’s high technology global economy and fast-changing world, we will be an engine for economic growth and social progress in Oregon.”