27 February, 2015


Lobby of the venue
Back home. Tired and jetlaggy, but satisfied: SCALE rocked!

SCALE loves ownCloud

The 13th South California Linux Expo was awesome! It is the biggest LinuxFest in the USA. While decidedly different in nature from Europe's biggest Linux event that that took place just three weeks prior (FOSDEM), we met similarly enthusiastic existing and future users. Conversations were also similar: about half the visitors already knew ownCloud, often using it or planning on deploying it; and the other half was more than a little delighted to hear about it, often exclaiming they had been looking for 'something like that' for a while. Negativity was extremely rare: I don't recall a single negative comment at SCALE (merely a few people who liked ownCloud but had no use for it personally), FOSDEM had one conversation starting unpleasantly but quickly turning around - even though one feature of ownCloud wasn't up to snuff, the user was happy with the experience as a whole.
Before the action started!

For most users, ownCloud was simply a wonderful product and they used it at home, deployed it for customers or managed it in their company. Some asked what features were coming or just arrived in ownCloud 8, or asked about the state of specific features and in more than one occasion they very enthusiastically told me how excited they were about ownCloud, how they loved it and how they were telling everybody to use it!

ownCloud to-go

Those who didn't know ownCloud were almost invariably surprised and excited. I can't count the times I heard "wow, why did I never hear about this before" and "dude, I've been looking for something like this for ever!". Often, people wondered how long ownCloud had been around (we just turned five), if it was open source (yes, with love), how many people contributed to it (719 and counting) and how many users it has (we guestimate over 2 million, with 500,000 in this single deployment alone). Oh, and, does it scale? The deployment linked above and a mention of users like CERN can put most concerns to rest. Yes, ownCloud scales from Raspberry Pi to Atom Smashing size.

What came up a few times as barriers to their future usage of ownCloud was pretty much what I discussed before. Running a server at home is not easy and I walked by the EFF booth to ask about progress on Let's Encrypt to ask about the progress of solving one aspect of that problem: more easily getting SSL certificates. I was told the project is on track for the 2nd half of this year.
Frank and Bryan Lunduke

It is wonderful to have such energizing, positive, enthusiastic users - and to have such an enthusiastic booth crew to talk to them as well. At the booth we had Frank, Matt, Ron, Camila and myself. Awesome it was and we had great fun! Below a timelapse video of Saturday morning. It was still rather quiet but it is nice to see us jump around!

Stuff and talk

Just like at FOSDEM, we brought ownCloud stickers, hand outs explaining ownCloud to users and developers as well as some posters for the booth and pins to give out. This was all very much appreciated - I estimate we gave out about 400 hand outs and 500 or so stickers as well as about 50-100 pins.

Sunday at 3PM, I gave a talk about Privacy and ownCloud, with Frank finishing off with a section about his talk at MIT where he discussed ownCloud's Federated Cloud sharing feature and where it is going. The talk was well received; I think the angle I took to privacy (inspired by my background in psychology) spoke to the audience and Frank's description of federation and how it's done in ownCloud was very interesting. owncloud.org and owncloud.com will feature blogs with some more information about this soon.


Big, big booth!
I also walked by the booths of 'old friends' - the openSUSE/GNOME/KDE crew in particular, it was awesome to meet them. Some I hadn't seen in years, others I met for the first time. They did an amazing job and richly deserve the reward they earned for most Stunningly Amazing Booth Crew (don't know the real name of the booth award but that's what it should be). If you think that 'just' GNOME an KDE being incorporated in the openSUSE booth isn't enough - Master Planner of the Booths Drew aims to bring in Enlightenment and XFCE as well next year. Supposedly a Trello board has been set up already. I bet it won't be long before it has grown to the point where the SCALE organization needs to give the 'openSUSE booth & friends' a separate hall at SCALE...

I have to note that it was thanks to our green friends that I could hang up the ownCloud flyers - they lend me some (green!) tape to do that.

The KDE booth had a bunch of terribly cool stickers (I only now realize I forgot to get one for myself!) as well as the "frameworks 5" flyers. I could only bring, like, 5 t-shirts and a dozen old 'join-the-game' flyers so I'm glad Bert Yerke and his wife, who formed the awesome local KDE team, had created the other materials. We already discussed 2016, as they have plenty of ideas on how to improve the booth!
Awesome stickers...

If you, dear reader, want to help out at the KDE or ownCloud booth next year - let me know, either in the comments or by mail. I can promise you: it is awesomely fun and by far not as scary as you might think! Bert and Matt and everybody who has ever been at a KDE, openSUSE, ownCloud or other FOSS booth can attest to that: it is a great way of getting involved and making a big difference!

Bonus points for who finds a suitable meaning for the one item in the title which isn't yet an acrynym ;-)

13 February, 2015

SCALE is almost here!

In less than a week, SCALE13x kicks off in Los Angeles! The hotel it takes place in is full so it promises to be busy - of course, there are more hotels around.

ownCloud will have a booth (#80) and I'll give a talk with Frank about data ownership, why it is important and how you can get it ;-)

There will be a kick-ass openSUSE booth, as always, and a KDE table as well. I am looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones!

See you there?

02 February, 2015


FOSDEM was crazy.
ownCloud booth between Diaspora and Tor

Regulars know it always is but it somehow managed to surprise me still.

The ownCloud booth was pretty much continuously swamped with visitors and even with 3-4 people there almost all the time, we could barely talk to everybody who had questions - let alone approach people who might have. So, sore feet, but still a blast. My biggest regret is that I barely left the booth to check out other projects I love. Luckily, ownCloud was flanked by awesome projects!

Diaspora, Tor, KDE, openSUSE...

I had a chat with the Diaspora folks at the booth next to us and greatly look forward to the upcoming release. They had a nice flyer-y paper which also included some development stats with the number of active contributors and such, a very useful thing to have so you can quickly see how a project is doing. Diaspora had a hard time since the crazy start, but things are picking up again and 66 people contributed to this important project over the last year.

I only visited the KDE booth a few times for a chat and to check out the new t-shirts (we brought a bunch of the 'old' style t-shirts with us and Ovidiu brought the new ones), not much different from openSUSE. I did talk to the usual subjects and met Douglas. Great to hear the merger of Factory and Tumbleweed is working out very well.

The Open Build Service continues strong and it was interesting to hear some thoughts on a conversation with Debian developers. They are (finally?) also working on reproducible builds, being bitten by some of their processes. I mean, if you become a Debian developer, you're nearly root on all the build systems and have a lot of fun with all the supported architectures. Compared to the robust, transparent processes and easy dealing with multiple architectures and different distribution versions on OBS - it seems a pointless struggle to me. It's not like OBS is evil, proprietary code, nor obscure and barely maintained! But I guess change is hard in such a bureaucratized organization.

Oh, and I look forward to the openSUSE Conference in den Hague! There is good progress with the organization of the event. Perhaps some Debian core developers should participate and have a look at OBS before Lennert solves the problem in a way that makes packaging irrelevant ;-)

Tor - darn, despite standing next to them, I didn't have time for a good conversation and I'm glad some FSFE friends walked past our booth or I wouldn't have known about the FSFE's upcoming valentine campaign I hope we can participate in!
marketing material package assembly


I mentioned our booth was busy. Wow. We have been creating some marketing materials and this was a bit of a test run. I send out materials in envelopes, and I thought - "let's bring 8 packages and see how they fit. Those left can be taken by the other team members to other events."

  • stickers were out (from all packages!) by 3PM on Saturday, flyers on Sunday morning. I need to re-assess the configuration of the packages.
  • The developer and user flyers are not easily (or at all) identifiable as such. And the usage of red on the developer flyer triggers people to grab that one first. Looks like my education as psychologist failed me here, I should have known!
  • Everybody who had a look at the user flyer could tell me what ownCloud was about - the contents are good.
  • People are baffled by the fact that a PHP app that runs on a Raspberry Pi can scale to +500K users at universities or organizations like CERN. We can explain this better!

So, both in terms of organization and contents of the marketing materials, some good ideas on improvements.

Besides the materials, the conversations were mostly 'the usual': incredibly up-beat. Of course, nothing is perfect but the vast majority of visitors was very positive and enthusiastic about ownCloud. Over half had it running and was curious about the upcoming release, while the other half either already knew about it and was planning to play with it, or was very delighted to hear what it was as they had been looking for a way to get out of the proprietary file storage world.

... rulez

I swear, if the average citizen was anything like the FOSDEM visitor, the ownCloud user base would be twice the size of the proprietary clouds combined already... Of course, the world isn't like that and ownCloud is has to overcome some hurdles still.

Then again, if you see the recent announcements like OpenCloudMesh, universities and public research institutions around the world are diving all-in on ownCloud. At FOSDEM, two staff members from the ULB IT team (where FOSDEM takes place) came by the booth to share they were experimenting with ownCloud for staff and students and I talked to many employees and owners of a variety of companies busy testing or deploying ownCloud.

With the quickly growing number of ownCloud providers, perhaps the future for ownCloud (and data ownership for consumers and businesses alike) lies in such deployments, rather than people running their own servers. This is already a huge decentralization compared to everybody on one of the 4 or 5 clouds from Google and friends, which would help our privacy and security.

If things continue like this, the number of 2 million ownCloud users will have to be revised up to triple that before 2016 is here. I'd welcome that!