The yearly German congress LinuxTag took place in Berlin this week1).
I attended some talks yesterday and today. Unlike last year I found it hard to choose interesting ones this time. Even though there were 7 different conference rooms, each one was dedicated to a certain topic for a whole day. Eg. there were multiple talks about Open Office in one location and another one was dedicated to KDE related stuff. So you had only 7 topics you could pick from each day… I think this was a bit more diverse last year – but I might remember that wrong.
Nonetheless the LinuxTag was worth a visit. While I was a bit disappointed by the talk program, I was surprised by the amount of interesting booths this year. I spent most of the time walking around and talk to the people involved in the different projects.
I like to point out a few projects I learned about at the booths and talks.
One clearly emerging trend is Linux on mobile devices. Despite all the buzz about the upcoming Google Android platform, other Linux based mobile stacks seem to be well alive and kicking. OpenMoko showcased some promising devices and the maemo community around the Nokia Internet tablets even had their own track.
Listening to a talk about “Cool maemo Apps” I learned about Vagalume. Vagalume is a cool GTK based last.fm client for the maemo devices but also works standalone on the desktop. Worth checking out.
The most interesting Linux driven mobile device was a prototype of the Open Bicycle Computer. The lightweight aluminum cased device determines your speed by measuring the voltage delivered by a hub dynamo which also powers it. Additional data is available through the built in GPS and inclination sensors.
Another completely different, but interesting project is YaCy which is an internet search engine based on peer to peer technology. I talked a bit with one of their developers and what he showed me was quite impressive. YaCy can be used as a highly personalized search engine, for site search or even to spider your intranet servers (the latter without peer-to-peer tech).
Open geo information systems were another topic at LinuxTag this year. Today I attended an interesting talk about Mapbender. It seems to be a very powerful tool to display any type of geo data, but the UI design could really need a refresh .
When you talk about open geo data you cannot miss to talk about the OpenStreetMap project. Their efforts to create free map data are amazing. All data is collected and edited by volunteers in a very Wiki way. One of the project members did give me a quick demo how GPS data can be rehashed for use in OpenStreetMap. They provide a powerful Java application that can load GPX files. You then can mark streets or add landmarks using simple drawing tools.
Of course I also talked with people about DokuWiki. I met a few users, including Yann Hamon who showed me his very cool Dokukiwix project. It is able to create a static snapshot of a DokuWiki instance which than can be wrapped in a XUL based gui and combined with a local search engine making it possible to make the wiki contents available on CD-ROM for example.
So much for LinuxTag 2008 – I'm looking forward to next year.