What was missing?
There was a need (for some time now) for a real discussion forum on Software-related issues, targeted towards the growing Free Software community in Greece. A place where developers could meet on a regular basis, present their work and exchange ideas with other members of the local community. A place where sysadmins could talk about "best practices" in their line of work and receive valuable feedback. A "computer club" that would present new developments in hardware, software and in the tech-y world at large. A place where the recreational hacker would feel at home :)
How did the "Software Libre Society events" cοme to be?
In October 2007, two 1st-year students from the Department of Informatics of the University of Piraeus dropped the following question to the administration team of the CS-laboratories: "Why don't we do a local OSS event?". Although we had been hosting 1-or-2 such events each year (install fests, distro demo's, MySQL 5.0 show by David Axmark and friends), I was thinking that maybe this time we should be going for something more of a community event.
Having some previous experience from "Δαίμων" (a software forum that was hosted at the University of Athens, a few years ago), the "ΕΛΛΑΚ workshops" (www.ellak.gr) and the support of friends from the local Linux User Group (www.hellug.gr), we set out to empower both the local university community (oss.cs.unipi.gr) and ultimately the Greek OSS community, by creating a weekly event that was targeted specifically for this audience.
What does a "Software Libre Society event" look like?
Every Friday at 18:00pm to 21:00pm (EET) we have 2 (sometimes 3) presentations in a Computer Science Laboratory at the University of Piraeus (the room has a 50-person quota which is OK for now but we might have to move to a bigger place if needed).
Each presentation takes approximately 45' and is followed by a 15' Q&A session. We try to organise the presentations so that we first have a technical subject which is then followed by some lighter subject, or an introductory subject followed by a more advanced one. We also try to group similarly themed presentations together.
Each session has its own documentation page on the community's wiki. The wiki contains the event schedule, presentation files, various flyers, related links and other information related to the presentations.
During the presentations, there's a live video stream for all those who couldn't make it to the event. Once the captured video's have been edited, they become available on the wiki.
There's a 10' break between presentations so you can strech your legs, socialise, grab a cup of tea/coffee/beer.. Once the presentations are over, we usually go out and have something to eat. This has become quite a tradition and some may even argue that it constitutes half of the event :)
In the initial event I did an intro on Free Software and GNU/Linux which was followed by the remarkable team of "iloog" developers (Giorgos Kargiotakis, Leuteris Zafiris) who presented their distribution (and the distro it's based on, Gentoo). The event was a big success, with a 40-person attendance, half of them coming from greek OSS communities (unipi.gr, ntua.gr, upatras.gr, ilug.gr, hellug.gr, ubuntu.gr, linuxformat.gr and GRnet's #linux/#linuxhelp) and the other half being mainly university students.
Unfortunately there was no video capture of this event, but we managed to get a few photos such as the one below:
The event was followed by a beer drinking session at "The Stand" in Exarcheia.
In this session Dimitris Glezos introduced us to the Fedora platform and his own work on the (GSoC sponsored) software called Transifex! Lambros Papadimitriou went on to present the wonderful packet manipulation library called "scapy", which he used in his own project Pluto.
The event was well attended (approx 30 persons). It was recorded to digital video and a small sample can be found here.
The event organisers went on to watch a show of the "Night on Earth" band at the Small Music Theater in Athens.
This was the first event of these series to be broadcast over the internet (and have questions fed over irc).
Lambros did an introduction to Source Code Management tools and explained the Subversion SCM. Giorgos Keramidas (of FreeBSD fame) continued on with a presentation on distributed SCMs with a focus on Mercurial.
Although the stream was available over the internet we had a wopping 35-person attendance! Our tiny webserver got 2120 hits and there were 10 people watching over the net.
Once the event was over we headed towards "Rozalia" at Exarcheia to have something to eat.
This time Giorgos Keramidas took on a different subject (one he knows by heart), the FreeBSD project! He was followed by Nikos Kokkalis who explained a few things about the greek FreeBSD documentation project. The event ended with Zafiris Galanopoulos' (poetic?) presentation on the XeLaTeX typesetting system, whose features were much anticipated by the greek-typesetting community for some time now.
The event was well attended (almost 30 persons) and got great reviews!
IIRC we had dinner at "Hardalia's Koutouki" in Kalithea that night.
Last Friday's event was a big success. We met with lots of people we hadn't seen in ages (kudos to the AWMN OSS guys!) and the attendance could only be compared to that of the initial event (40+ persons there, 15 viewers from the internet). What is really important is the fact that as the events continue on, the percentage of the OSS community within the attending parties is growing strong, thus allowing for more technical questions during the Q&A and later discussions.
As far as the presentations are concerned, Gregory Potamianos presented the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and a few tricks for the already initiated, while Apollon Oikonomopoulos presented the MacOS X platform, from the Unix user's point of view.
Discussions continued on in a beer drinking session at "Ostria" in Exarcheia and we later moved to a tavern called "Efimeron" for dinner. For some strange reason we kept on bumping into people from the events during our walk in the center of Athens. Seems the community is everywhere..beware! :o)
xmas special event
This Friday we will be having a special event dedicated to computer graphics!
Giannis Tsiompikas (aka Nuclear in the Demo scene world) will be presenting the principles behind the Design and Implementation of 3d graphics engines, along with a demo of his older engine "3dengfx". Christos Smailis will follow, taking us on a trip to the world of 3d modelling with Blender!
There's a good chance there's going to be a surprise at the end of the event, so don't miss it! :)