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OSL Newsletter: A Look Back at 2010

by Lance Albertson on Mon, Jan 03 2011

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 organization 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.