Savoir-faire Linux and ICTC empower Young Digitization Leaders

The first cohort of the Small Business Digitization Initiative kicked off in Ottawa. Young Digitization Leaders with diverse backgrounds are honing their skills in class and in their work placement.

A terrific first cohort

Our first cohort is committed to make a difference in the Ottawa region. Some students come with previous business experience, while others have followed a more classical Bachelor of Commerce program. Another group of students is bringing to the table strong technical foundations earned at the local college or university, or from abroad. Finally, some students are young entrepreneurs in their own right (and may already be serial entrepreneurs). All of them will be joining forces, as a cross-functional team, in order to solve authentic challenges faced by Small Businesses.

Digitization Leaders with a Vision

The first classes set the stage for the course, especially as students explored the major trends affecting all industries. Every company is challenged to level up its game. Businesses compete on new and smart ways to leverage digital technology, in order to improve customer experience, productivity, and accessibility for their products and services. Our students already had a chance to reflect on innovation, and how it happens. They learned about S-curves and network externalities. They reflected on the pros and cons of diverse software licensing and adoption strategies. Disruptive innovation is on the back of their mind.

Finally, we discussed business strategy. Our students are already familiar with the internal and external forces that affect a business. They know how to assess those. We explored a bit more in depth the importance of a business’s core capabilities. As technology allows to automate certain processes, Digitization Leaders also need to understand where to (re)focus resources to maximize revenue (economic, and other types).

Domesticating Technology

One of the main challenges faced by the Senior generation is our relative uneasiness with technology. Digital natives have an advantage, because they’re “naturals”, who are not afraid of technology. During our three days of Tech Labs, everyone installed Linux and the Open Source Community version of Odoo, in a matter of a few hours. I was pleasantly surprised by the intellectual agility demonstrated by the students. They don’t get stuck in the details. Instead, they have a very pragmatic approach, focusing on “making things work”. So, we went on experimenting with a wide range of applications used in business, popular and less popular ones. We installed and configured WordPress. One student even managed to set up his own website in Amazon Web Services. Another configured his machine to serve multiple customers from a single virtual machine. We had fun!!!

Solving real business problems

After these exciting first weeks, I’m looking forward to tackling the productivity challenge for small businesses. This week, students are diving deep into the main business processes run by all businesses: accounting, customer relationship (CRM), purchasing, selling, human resources, project management… They will build on what they are learning in class (including theory and software skills), to propose novel solutions at their workplace. At the end of the day, our goal is to help Small Businesses gain in productivity, reach new markets, and compete locally and anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, I’m confident our young Digitization Leaders will help Canada strive as a nation of modern business entrepreneurs and innovators. I’m looking forward to helping them realize their professional aspirations!

Tackling Three FFmpeg’s Technological Challenges to Further Shape TR-03 Standards for Broadcasters

This winter was very cold and snowy in Montreal, so we decided to spend some time looking at FFmpeg’s internals in the hope of getting a working TR-03/SDI pipeline processing up to a several HD streams on a contemporary server while benefiting from FFmpeg’s easily available lower definition derivatives from the same video stream.

Image result
Logo of FFmpeg

A few challenges arose from this endeavor. The first was the TR-03 format itself which wasn’t supported in the upstream version of FFmpeg. The second was the volume of data to be processed: We’re talking about 3Gb/s of traffic here, which according to the FFmpeg developers might not be possible to process. Finally, we needed to add transcoding to the pipeline which meant even greater CPU load.

Implementing TR-03 was not the biggest challenge, as the video format was pretty straightforward, and we quickly got a working implementation. In this context, we used GStreamer, which was already very capable in terms of streaming as a sender for this volume of data.

Once the data began to flow in, the performance bottlenecks became even more evident. To clearly locate these bottlenecks, we decided to write a few benchmark scenarios using a combination of unit tests and LTTng (i.e., an open source tracing framework for Linux). These benchmark scenarios allowed us to detect where we were dropping a bunch of packets (i.e., losing data at different layers) at both the kernel socket and NIC buffers. Since we were closely monitoring the data processing , it was relatively easy to tweak the buffer sizes, while keeping the delays within our acceptable range. Next, we noticed that FFmpeg’s data gathering/decoding thread was hogging a single CPU core causing occasional packet loss on the occasion when we weren’t fast enough to dequeue data from the socket buffer. To work around this, we decoupled the data gathering work from the decoding part. Following through these steps carefully, gave us our packet drop-free pipeline, an achievement we celebrated with a fine cake and a few drinks in front of a cool movie that we could finally watch (I could have never imagined that Big Bug Bunny was so much fun).

Big Buck Bunny is a short computer-animated comedy film by the Blender Institute, released as an open-source film under Creative Commons License Attribution 3.0.

For Savoir-faire Linux’ product engineering team, this was a very encouraging and promising adventure. Despite all odds, we empirically demonstrated the possibility to run SDI processing pipelines on top of regular server equipment using open source software. Our experiment was a success as it turned out there was great potential for broadcasters. To continue in this direction and further shape the standards of SMPTE 2110, which are not frozen yet being still in embryonic phase, we face two main challenges. First, we need to perfect our features and get them integrated upstream into FFmpeg. Presently, our product engineering team is progressing on this front. Further, FFmpeg does not support the synchronization as described in SMTPE 2110. We are evaluating the possibility to provide and include the support needed.

Authors:

  • Damien Riegel,
  • Eloi Bail, and
  • Stepan Salenikovitch.

ICTC and Savoir-faire Linux Partnership: Empowering Ontario Youth to Digitize Small Businesses

 

Logo ICTC           Logo Savoir-faire Linux

Toronto, March 29, 2017 – The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) and Savoir-faire Linux Inc. have joined together to deliver the Small Business Digitization Initiative (SBDI). With this initiative being piloted in Ottawa, Toronto and North Bay, up to one hundred Ontario youth between the ages of twenty to twenty-nine will have the opportunity to receive twenty-four weeks of free training with the aim of transforming them into future business digitization leaders. This pilot initiative started its first class in Ottawa on January 23rd, 2017. Over the next six months, cohorts will be starting in North Bay and Toronto in March, and in Toronto and Ottawa in April.

SBDI is a training program, funded by the Government of Ontario, that connects youth and small businesses together to solve real employer digital adoption challenges. The initiative provides training for in-demand skills to unemployed and underemployed youth to prepare them for the digital workplace, while providing businesses with enthusiastic and knowledgeable talent to implement smart technology solutions to support their innovation.

One of the key features of this program is the integration of in-class training with hands on experience. The twenty-four weeks of full-time training will include a sixty-day experiential work placement, where each participant has the opportunity to work with innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand their skill set while providing sustainable solutions to improve business operations by implementing technology solutions. Youth will attain transferable workplace skills in project management, data analytics and intelligence, entrepreneurship, as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) (including principles of sales, marketing and accounting).

Savoir-faire Linux is responsible for more than half of the classroom training delivery. Savoir-faire Linux’s instructors kick-start the course with a boot camp on business strategy and innovation, focusing on the 4th industrial revolution driven by digital technologies. The main part of the course focuses on the automation of back-office processes, introducing technologies to save time and money to small businesses, and to provide a better service to their customers.

Savoir-faire Linux ensures that this training is grounded in reality. In class, Savoir-faire Linux instructors help students to understand technology and practices aimed at fitting software to the business. Students will spend the other half of the training at a work placement, to solve a real challenge. There will be ample time in class to provide guidance, as students learn by alternating class work with industry work.

Savoir-faire Linux Opens a Red Hat Individual Exam Center in Montreal: A Timely Response to Shortage of Linux and OS Experts in Quebec

Montreal, March 28, 2017 – From April 1, 2017, Savoir-faire Linux, the leading free and open source expert in Quebec and Canada, will host Red Hat® individual exam sessions at its Montreal office.

From left to right : Pierre Lamarche (Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships), Raymond Cantin (Director of Training Dept.), and Eric Schaefer, Red Hat-Canada Channels Leader.

As a Red Hat® Advanced Business Partner, Savoir-faire Linux will now be equipped with a kiosk to run individual Red Hat certification exams on its premises in Montreal. The exam will take place on a personal test station, secured and accredited by Red Hat® within a Quebec-based company. The Red Hat® Individual Examination Booth will cover a wide range of certifications: Red Hat® Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat® OpenStack System Administrator, Red Hat® Hybrid Cloud Management Expertise, Red Hat® Hybrid Cloud Storage Expertise, JBoss Developer, Jboss Administrator (RHCJA), and many more.

“We are very pleased that Savoir-faire Linux takes the lead in opening this unique individual exam center in Quebec. It has been logical to select Savoir-faire Linux because the company leads the free and open source initiatives in Quebec and has deep expertise in free open source software.”

Eric Schaefer, Canada Strategic Alliances and Business Development.

There is no need to emphasize that Red Hat® has already become the world leader in open source software technologies and it has done so within a relatively short time, about 2 decades or so. By collaborating closely with a broad network of IT leaders, open source supporters, developers and business partners, Red Hat® technologies have already changed the landscape of information systems and the companies success is echoed globally. Moreover, the digital revolution, marked by the rise of open technologies and the recognition of digital strategies at the heart of innovation and business growth, has already impacted the Canadian market and IT sector. According to Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)’s 2015 Labor Market Outlook, the cumulative hiring requirements for ICT talent in Canada will be approximately over 182,000 by 2019.

The Linux Foundation itself has published a report in 2016 in which it describes a growing shortage of Linux and open source specialists. 87% of professionals acknowledge the difficulty of recruiting adequately trained and certified experts; while 59% intend to increase the recruitment of these same specialists to meet the digital transformation challenges they face.

“In a rapidly changing technological sector, where competition is fierce to attract top talent, we consider these certifications to be essential to support the development of a pool of digital talents in Quebec and strengthen Quebec’s position in the digital economy of the North America. This kiosk installation was more than necessary to respond locally to the emerging technological trends”

Christophe Villemer, the Executive Vice-President of Savoir-faire Linux.

With this new service in Quebec, Savoir-faire Linux becomes the only Red Hat®’s partner in Quebec to offer both Red Hat® training and certifications in a collective and individual fashion. The company intends to consolidate its position as a major partner in the digital strategies of Quebec companies.

References:
Report “2016 Open Source Jobs Report” (May, 2016).
ICTC Press release (March 12, 2015).

Lemon LDAP::NG, Villeurbanne’s authentication system choice

The city of Villeurbanne (France) is interested in open source technologies and has chosen Lemon LDAP::NG to control its users’ access rights.

The city of Villeurbanne had many web applications where the authentication was already delegated to a central CAS server (Central Authentication Services), modified to Villeurbanne’s needs, to give access to current internal users in the Active Directory as well as to external users stored in a database.
By adding new applications to the city’s information system (IS), it became necessary for the IS managers required the need to control access rights in order to ensure that certain users will not access confidential information.

A solution proven to respond to the «unique authentication» issues of the city of Villeurbanne

Having searched for an appropriate authentication system and having consulted experts about different possibilities and the pros and cons of different systems, the town’IS makers’ decision was drawn to LemonLDAP::NG as a unique authentication system.
LemonLDAP::NG is a unique authentication software identity manager distributed under the GPL license and adapted to companies (centralized authorization management, interoperability with all the identity exchange protocols such as CAS, OpenID, Connect, SAML,…). With a very simple installation process, the configuration can be done in text or graphic mode. LemonLDAP::NG is generally compatible with a number of web applications.
«Within the scopeof this Intranet project, composed of open-source bricks, we were looking for a unique authentication tool which allows to assign access rights based on active directory account characteristics, explains Jean-Patrick Trauet, Tehchnical and Security Manager. After analyzing different solutions, we chose Lemon::LDAP which responded perfectly to our needs.
It also became an opportunity to create an authentication portal for our web applications. In the future, we envision to evolve our Lemon::LDPA towards strong authentication.»

«After analysis different solutions, we chose Lemon::LDAP which responded perfectly to our needs. It also became an opportunity to create an authentication portal for our web applications»
Jean-Patrick Trauet, Technical and Security Manager


A project lead by Savoir-faire Linux
The city of Villeurbanne asked Savoir-faire Linux to accompany them in the implementation of LemonLDAP::NG.To help them more effectively, we had to break the project down into several phases.

  • The implementation of an OpenLDAP directory to replace the referential external identity database
  • The creation of connectors to automatically synchronize the accounts and Active Directory groups in the OpenLDAP directory
  • The management of group rights in OpenLDAP associating internal and external users
  • The implementation of LemonLDAP::NG as a CAS server to replace the old system and personalize the authentication pattern
  • The migration of applications towards the new CAS server

The new authentication portal

 

The main benefits for the city of Villeurbanne

The city of Villeurbanne now has at its disposal a central identification (internal and external) directory and a WebSSO tool and access control. The possibility of using LemonLDAP::NG as a CAS server, but also as a supplier of headers, SAML, or OpenID Connect, allows to connect a large scope of applications.

Key data

  • Number of users impacted : approximately 1000 users
  • Number of project management days : 10 days
  • Number of concerned applications : between 5 and 10
  • Technologies used : OpenLDAP, LSC and LemonLDAP::NG , EZPublish, Alfresco, iTop, Piwik, Orchestra, développements internes en PHP

FOSDEM 2017 : our impressions

Packed amphitheatre for the keynote on the «Kubernetes on the road to GIFEE»

In the 2017’s FOSDEM event, held in Brussels, Soizik, Cécile, Clément, Adrien and Andreas represented Savoir-faire Linux. Here, they share briefly their experience and impressions from their participation in the event.

Soizik Froger, project manager

It was my first FOSDEM event, and I loved it. I have only one regret: I wish I could have attended every session, and talked with everyone!! It was a tremendous place for tech-savvy and free software lovers like me. Seeing those panelists with very high level of expertise has taught me a lesson about humility that comes with great knowledge.

I definitely give five stars to Frenchy Matthieu Totet’s talk on Graph Cycles. This is a passionate work on a real time graph on Twitter and how we can seize the fantastic potential of this technology!

I almost cried of joy at open Q&A session with members of the OpenJDK Governing Board: Mark Reinhold, Mario Torre, Andrew Haley, Georges Saab & Doug Lee (embedded). I secretly took a picture, and I’m sure I will keep it in front of my eyes until the next FOSDEM.

Open Q&A session with members of the OpenJDK Governing Board: Mark Reinhold, Mario Torre, Andrew Haley, Georges Saab & Doug Lee (embedded)

I give the best ‘orator palm’ to Christian Thalinger for his benchmarking of Compiler JIT Graal on Twitter services. It was such a clear and organized speech that a slow guy like me understood it all.

Finally, I discovered what technologies lie behind Ring. Our session was a great success. We were excited by the volume of the turn-out. We had a diverse and enthusiastic audience that posed questions about the architecture of Ring and its ambitious potential for scalability. High five to the Ring’s development team!

Cécile Delépine, Delegate Europe General Manager

That was my first FOSDEM too! It was a great opportunity to meet with the industry in a both cozy and professional environment.
My main focus was containers orchestration with Kubernetes, the fast growing Open Source community at the time being. FOSDEM is the place for technological intelligence, which I see as a BizDev not as an engineer.

Students and tech-related senior job seekers, please take note : FOSDEM is also a place for hiring talents (we invaded FOSDEM job corner with all our job posts for France and Canada). Our presentation on Ring , and Clement’s commitment to LemonLdap coupled with our presence on OW2 stand also significantly contributed to promoting our expertise at Savoir-faire Linux.

I wish I attended Mozilla conference too. What does motivate the open source community? This is the question posed by Rina Jensen, whose conclusions should be widely shared.

Some food for thoughts.

My five stars goes to Software Heritage, a project supported and initiated by Roberto Di Cosmo (INRIA, GTLL Systematic Member). The source code of our projects is a common good, thus it should be available to all and be centralized in one archive which does not depend un one solution and does not vary from one solution to another (Github, Bitbucket…)

Last but not least, I bought the book How Linux works and I almost finished the second chapter;-)

Clément Oudot, infrastructure and security expert

This year, I represented LemonLDAP::NG projet. I then met with Fusion Directory and Spoon communities., It was the first time we had an OW2 stand, and it showed that this consortium was not only Enterprise oriented but also community-oriented.

I was pleased by the large number of attendees at Perl stand and the packed Devroom.
I am still surprised to see Perl can attract so many people. What a wonderful turn-out for Perl!

During this weekend, I met with lots of people I knew from different communities : Framasoft, XMPP, OpenStack, VLC, PHP etc. That’s why I love going to FOSDEM!

The OW2 Stand with Clément Oudot (c), Cécile Delépine and Soizik Forger
Ring conference : What technologies lie behind Ring

Adrien Béraud, Ring system engineer
FOSDEM is an exciting and inspiring place. We met with lots of interesting people with interesting projects, There were too many people! [8000 people attended the event]

As for the Ring session, it was amazing to see how exciting the audience were. Last year, people discovered Ring, this year, they wanted to know a lot more about the technology. No wonder there were so many of them. Actually, there is a growing interest for distributed communication systems.

My five stars goes to Alok Anand, who presented Telepathy Connection Manager for Ring. He was able to develop it because he joined Google Summer of Code’s program which accommodated Ring from Savoir-faire Linux. Thanks to such a wonderful collaboration and such a nice program for young coders.

Andreas Traczyk, Ring developer

Like Soizic and Cecile, it was my first time at FOSDEM in Brussels. It surpassed all my expectations. There were so many passionate people, so many nerds in the same place;-) It was intense!

A packed room for Ring conference

I was really impressed by the turn-out of the audience during the Ring session, Although we did not haveso much time, we were well received, and the audience’s questions were challenging. Besides, I wish we had more space and more time!

My five stars for the best presentation goes to Daniel Pocock for his excellent talk on the real time communication solutions crowdfunding. It was so interesting, so inspiring.

Ring being listed among Free Software Foundation’s High Priority Projects

Becoming integrated into GNU since November, since 2017 Ring has been listed in Free Software Foundation (FSF)’s High Priority Projects (HPP) .

The main objective of HPP initiative is to increase Free Software reputation and adoption among information systems users, individuals and/or corporations. Since 2005, the foundation updates a list of work in progress applications for contributors, volunteers, companies and other Free Software supporters. Without their help, those projects would have never reached their full potential.
This list addresses several issues of Libre technologies such as decentralization, security, mobile APPs or real time voice and video chats. Ring is presented in this last category.

To FSF’s mind, the present context of mass surveillance forces us to fulfill Free Software commitment: creating new alternatives and secure solutions to proprietary communication softwares.

Ring’s presence in the HPP list is very important. As a Free, decentralized, secure and universal software, Ring fits natively in FSF’s philosophy because it is distributed under GPL v3 with its code being open to all contributions.

An object of study

Namely, our development team works with external contributions and academic partners. Ring is already part of computer engineering undergraduate programs at École Polytechnique de Montréal. This winter, new functions of Ring will be taught to 3rd year students.
Besides, let’s not forget to mention the important contribution of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) graduates in building a secure Distributed Hashed Table system for Ring.

Therefore Free Software Foundation’s support nurture our will to share our own developments of a Free, universal, secure and distributed software project, which takes part in building a decentralized and free Internet.

Tuleap: The Platform of Our Choice for Developing the “Ring Project”

Last November, our Ring development team met with Enalean’s. This company develops Tuleap, the software development project management tool we use for Ring. Here is the story of our relationship with Tuleap.

I’m Guillaume Roguez, the Technical Manager of the Ring Project at Savoir-faire Linux HQ in Montreal. Savoir-faire Linux is an Information Systems’ (IS) solutions provider highly specialized in deploying, customizing, integrating, and strategizing the best-in-their-class free/libre and open source software (FLOSS) tools and projects to respond to unmet clients’ business needs. Our vision is to be the front-runner in the field of IS/IT technologies that are developed, extended, supported by, or connected to FLOSS underlying technologies. To realize this objective, it is our mandate to be and remain creative, innovative and continuously R&D-oriented. Ring is one among several other in-house R&D projects that we have launched and maintained.

In brief, Ring is a free, distributed and universal communication software published under the GNU General Public License version 3. Ring allows its users to communicate in multiple ways using it as a telephone (i.e., VoIP), a media sharing tool (i.e., exchanging videos), a messenger (i.e., exchanging texts) or as a building block for your Internet of Things (IoT) project. Ring can be seen as a FLOSS alternative for Skype.

My responsibilities are to manage all technical aspects of the Ring project, and coordinate the team members’ tasks. I also present Ring Project through giving public speeches at different universities in Montreal (e.g., Université du Québec à Montréal, Polytechnique -Université de Montréal, McGill University, École de Technologie Supérieure, etc.). We have also used Ring as a research subject, a living lab, for graduate students here in Montreal. Students have had the chance to hone their programing skills while contributing the the progress of the Ring (e.g., Google Summer of Code). In fact, it is very important for Savoir-faire Linux to collaborate with university-based research centers and student-researchers in order to expand the limits of the community around the project. .

To continue, I wish to take the opportunity to briefly touch upon the technical environment – Tuleap- that we have chosen to rely on. Put simply, Tuleap is the software development project management tool that I can recommend; It facilitates our collaborative work; it saves us a lot of time; and it helps us organize all our daily affairs.

Our Journey from Redmine to Tuleap: Challenges and Opportunities

At the beginning of the Ring project we used the same technical environment that we would use for most of our current projects at Savoir-faire Linux, i.e., Redmine. However, having used Redmine for the Ring, we soon realized that it was not the right environment. Redmine has a quite rigid design which does not allow the users to easily adapt the tracker fields to their specific usage. Overall, Redmine is quite limited and restrictive. Making modifications in the tracker, for instance, requires several manipulations and once they are done, you cannot easily change your mind. I always wanted something more flexible for my team.
For me, GitHub is oversimplified and a lot of features are missing; and again, it is too rigid. Although, from the design perspective, it is full of eye candy , it is still too expensive in the long run. It may be the right tool for a small or even a medium-sized project; nonetheless, GitHub’s restrictive design rapidly limits the capacity of an Agile-oriented management team. You have to adapt your work flow to the tool and not the opposite. Therefore, that’s a no-go for us.
If one uses Git in Tuleap environment, there is the possibility to force the work flow to perform a particular action. One may view this as a limitation, but in reality, such possibility can educate team members to adjust their actions towards the right direction in conformity with of the project. Tuleap is not a self-dependent tool. On the contrary, Tuleap’s underlying design – which is very plug-in oriented – provides the development team with the possibility to interact with other well-established free software tools such as Git and Gerrit. As an example, we can force Git commit messages to contain a reference to the related issues in Tuleap. Later, we can couple this functionality with Git to more easily browse and have a complete and customized tracking system.
These advantages of Tuleap have been clear from the onset to our Chief Technology Officer Jerome Oufella. He proposed adoption of Tuleap and explained his reasons. To be honest, when someone tries to implement a change so fundamental to a team’s work flow, some frictions are naturally expected. But, our past experiences have shown us that the flexibility level of team members slowly but steadily increases as they move along the learning curve. Indeed, there is always a price to pay for any change management.

Among other challenges, we faced the issue of missing documentations. This was a bump on the road as we could not easily set up our trackers and fix bugs as rapidly as we should have. Luckily, Tuleap’s core development team was receptive to our feedback. They helped us design a setup tailored to our needs and benefit from the flexibility that enabled us to add and change our tracking details. Tuleap’s setup has this quality that evolves with the user’s project. The more we used this flexibility and evolutionary nature of Tuleap, the more we gained confidence in the decision we made to adopt Tuleap.

Last but not least, Tuleap is an open source tool embedded in a very dynamic and vibrant community of developers. For instance, just last month (January 04, 2017), Tuleap released a new version (9.3) with the first steps of the brand new query language for the tracking system. This will enable developers to make advanced searches within the Tuleap trackers as it supports the “AND”, “OR” and “()” characters. We’ll be able to get all the tickets matching with complex queries such as : (summary = “tracker” OR summary = “query”) AND submission = “language”.

I think a frequent visit to Tuleap’s website is worth the try because: a) there are easy-to-understand video and text-based tutorials; b) all information regarding the newly added features and bug fixes are clearly delineated; and c) it is a window to connect to the Tuleap’s community, to ask questions and engage in a technological discussion.

Our Current Agile Experience with Tuleap

We have been developing Ring under the Agile Software Development Methodology. Using, the Tuleap Scrum planning release helps us to track and monitor bugs and enhancements, the wiki and the forums efficiently. We coupled it to Gerrit code review system for the patches management .

On the day-to-day, there are about 10 developers from Savoir-faire Linux using Tuleap to develop Ring. I will be there too- wearing several hats as: project/technical manager, developer, and the Scrum master. We can add to this group of motivated developers all the other community members (platform maintainers, users, followers, etc.) who are dispersed around the globe and help one another to progress of this innovative community-based project.

Keeping an Eye on Tuleap…

Quite recently, November 2016, I had the opportunity to personally meet with Manon Midy from the Tuleap core development team at the Paris Open Source Summit. Some of my colleagues and I had the chance to share our opinions about the things we wished to improve or be different in Tuleap. Perhaps the most important among all was the user interface. Right now, there are too many clicks to be made in order to get done what you intend to do. Furthermore, the User Interface (UI) is quite complex. Having heard from Manon that the team was already deeply engaged in the activity of “re-thinking the overall design” was absolutely heartwarming. Finally, as shown by the track record of Tuleap’s new versions and up-to-date releases (9.2 and 9.3), we trust that it is a highly promising and dependable project for generation of software developers to come.

2017: The Year of Intelligence

Happy New Year! If 2016 has been a year of many surprises, 2017 is the time for intelligence and bold actions. Technology is getting smarter, and so must we.

Looking back for a moment

As always, the passing to January is a time to meditate on what we’ve accomplished, and on what happened around us. Quite a lot last year, as it turns out. We lost several artistic geniuses, particularly musicians. The citizens of the UK have embraced their islander identity to a deeper level. Our Southern neighbours have made a drastic turn in terms of both policy and tone at the last presidential election. I remember being riveted at my screens more than a couple of times, watching the British Pound and major stocks rise and fall in matters of hours. No wonder why business leaders have been advancing very cautiously last year.

However, the conversation dramatically shifted in Canada during the first days of January as gas prices rose in Mexico (20%) and Ontario (~10% at the pump), along with rumors of companies leaving due to the cost of doing business, and as people (including our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) are getting ready to handle the big NAFTA renegotiation with the US. Some wonder what will happen to Ontario’s (and Mexico’s) car industry. Thankfully there is a note of optimism coming from CES 2017. The time is for bold and decisive action. More than ever we need intelligence. Luckily, it has been a theme in the technology sector.

Looking forward from CES 2017

I like to start the year thinking about new ways technology can help us live fuller and richer lives. The car industry, for example, has done remarkable progress. Toyota presented the Concept-i car, while intelligently setting expectations about what robotics and artificial intelligence can do, particularly when safety is a prime concern. BMW may have a more robust approach, however, calling industry partners to join them with Intel and Mobileye to collaborate on an open platform. BMW aims to release its first fully autonomous car iNEXT in 2021.

I believe this approach is more robust because it leverages both people and technology at the same time. In this regard, the French Renault group, allied with Nissan and Mitsubishi, came up with a very bold plan to create the world first mass-market open source vehicle. The group sells 10 million vehicles a year, placing it on the coveted top 3 list of car manufacturers in the world. Renault is opening the Twizy entirely: both hardware and software will be open. ARM and OSVehicle are key partners in this venture, inviting other car manufacturers, and the broader community of developers and car enthusiasts to join their efforts into building the car of the 21st century.

The first mass-market open source car
Picture By JwhOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0 lu, Link

The challenge is set. The call is made. The best and brightest are working together to create the fully autonomous smart car. I’m excited about Intelligent technology, yes, but I really believe we’re on a fast track to achieve this goal because intelligent professionals collaborate in a free and open manner. The more eyeballs and brains at it, the better the data, and the better the solution.

Intelligent technology

New industrial and commercial applications coming up today leverage some kind of artificial intelligence. Over the years, technology has moved from analytics to big data, to artificial intelligence. These techniques have in common the massive use of data (the more data the better the training and the resulting performance). Fully autonomous cars for example will only be possible through computer vision, and techniques like deep learning are key to achieve this goal.

Interestingly, many of these technologies are available under a Free/Libre Open Source Software license. For example, TensorFlow, originally created by the Google Brain Team, is available from GitHub under an Apache 2.0 License. TensorFlow is used by Google, Twitter, Airbus, Uber, Snapchat… While IBM, Microsoft (e.g. CNTK, DMTK), Facebook, Amazon and others are actively working on their own projects. Datamation presents 15 of the top Free/Libre Open Source AI projects. Most people familiar with Big Data will already have heard about Hadoop, Spark, R, Python, MongoDB…

Intelligent professionals

Still, artificial intelligence doesn’t build itself. Intelligent people design this technology, as discussed last year at Davos. For once, the industry (all industries) need to recruit a lot of talents (read: there are many good job opportunities) in Free/Libre Open Source Software. The automobile industry is just an example where technology needs to be invented as consumer products are built. There is really a high demand for scientists and engineers (Youth out there if you’re listening…).

Work intelligence rests in what people know, in what they do (their skills), and in how they do it (their ability to reflect and to improve). The Free/Libre Open Source Software community demonstrates everyday how software and solutions improve when people share their knowledge and skills. For young professionals, it is a great way to learn the ropes (acquire best practices, learn the art from experienced professionals). For industrials, it is a great way to build complex and yet scalable and interoperable systems that can be maintained relatively easily over a long period of time. For example, Bosch is building a number of Free/Libre Open Source Software for the car industry.

RU Secure panel at the Ryerson Commerce and Government Association (RCGA) –From left to Right: Diane Francis (Award-winning Canadian author and entrepreneur), Alex Goncharenko (CPA from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services), Marc Lijour (Director, Savoir-faire Linux Toronto)

Contributions from Savoir-faire Linux

Savoir-faire Linux is committed to the community, an important part of its triple-bottom line strategy. We’re helping the Youth by sponsoring initiatives like the Maison du logiciel libre in Montreal (with Google and Red Hat). In Toronto, we gave a number of presentations to postsecondary and high school students exploring the thought of building a career in technology.

A few months ago, we gave an Introduction to Android at T.Hacks 2016, and an Introduction to Python to Women in Computer Science and Women in IT Management at Ryerson University. These slides are available on GitHub. We discussed privacy rights and cybersecurity at RU Secure, organized by the Ryerson Commerce and Government Association (RCGA). Starting 2017, we’re partnering with ICTC on an innovative training program funded by the Government of Ontario. We’re empowering Youth to find a job faster in ICT, while helping small businesses digitize with intelligence.

We’re calling all intelligent youth and professionals to join us in our journey to make the world more connected, more secure, and more human. And when the time is right, join us to Free the World!

A tribute to Debian’s founder, Ian Murdock

Photo de Ian Murdock
Copyright – Ilya Schurov , Computerra Weekly — CC

A year ago, Ian Murdock passed away and with him, a core part of the defenders of free software. We would like to pay tribute to the Debian founder, because at Savoir-faire Linux, we use his heritage everyday.


Free above all

As an undergraduate student at Purdue University, Ian Murdock discovered Linux in the early 90s. Fascinated by its ethics and vision, he dives in passionately. In 1993, at the age of only 20, Iam Murock begins his Debian project, where the name originates from the contraction of his wife Debra Lynn’s name and  his own. Initially developed with the collaboration of a small group of Free Hackers, Debian quickly became one of the first Linux distributions, open and free to have found success and brought together a community of free developers and users.  That same year, Ian Murdock published the Debian Manifesto, which grounds the humanist philosophy which is behind his project. This philosophy falls in line with the spirit of GNU and Linux.

1. Debian will remain an entirely free project.
2. All new developments will be brought back to the community.
3. Transparency is an acquired good.
4. The users and free software are the project’s priority.
5. Exceptions to the free software principles are made to respond to any need.

To this can be added many principles which are entwined in a social contract, a constitution and a series of instructions, demonstrating a vision based on diversity and non discrimination towards users or softwares as well as a free and non commercial distribution, a key principle of Debian.

A community project with infinite forks

Logo DebianToday, the Debian project counts more than a thousand official developers without forgetting more than a hundred occasional contributors and no less than 43 500 software packages. Every Debian version where the release varies based on the degree of stability is named after a character of the animated film Toy Story of Pixar studios- my preference goes to Mr. Potato Head  and yours?

Like in any organization based on free principles developers can fork a project, a branch of a project which will have its own continuity, there are many Debian project forks. Without writing an exhaustive list, we can reference Ubuntu which we use at Savoir-faire Linux, Xubuntu or even SteamOS.

Another one of Debian’s distinctive characters is its organizational model. During his discovery of Linux and the free software model, Ian Murdock remained profoundly impacted by the communitarian aspect of the project. As his turn came, he wanted to give forward. The Debian project was  taken on by a not for profit foundation, Software Public Interest (SPI), where a community of volunteer developers decide future orientations and developments. A project manager is elected every year by the members. Ian Murdock naturally relayed his role to other managers, however kept a close eye as his role of secretary of the foundation.

Ring on Debian

Thanks to the work of Alexandre Viau, Debian developer and developer at Savoir-faire Linux. Our Ring project is accepted since June 30th, 2016 on Debian testing, the repositories of  Stretch development, Debian’s next version.

An incredible recognition for Savoir-faire Linux’s Ring team and good news for users who can now install Ring from their Debian distribution without having to add those of ring.cx

Alexandre Viau and his collegue Simon Désaulniers participated at the DebConf 2016, in the city of Cape Town, South Africa,  to present Ring to the Debian community.

They also took advantage of this International Free event to present OpenDHT, our distributed hash table system at the heart of Ring. The libopendht package  made an appearance on Debian experimental during the DebConf.

In regards to Gabriela Coleman, teacher and researcher at McGill University, other than the community created around the project, Ian Murdock’s heritage rests on the collaborative culture he fostered issued of GNU and Linux, which makes the Debian project an even larger success than the technical development of an information technology product of good work.