Software Freedom Day 2007, Beijing Report

On IRC, I told Pia, that I enjoyed the Beijing SFD tremendously, and they should definitely win for 2007. I did make a note that if it was required, I would blog about it… She mentioned that it probably wouldn’t matter, because they were a contender already. Nonetheless, I figured that eventually I’d blog about it – turns out its come many months later, generally inspired by Peter Junge’s blog post. Lucky for me, all this isn’t just coming off from memory, but my trip report, that was on an internal mailing list!

First up, some quick resources: the winning report, photos, including the ones from the speaker dinner, held after the event, and the winning announcement. Granted, it was one of three events that won, but I’m happy and proud to have been associated with the Beijing event!

I had 20 minutes in total to get the message across, and there were always interesting questions that required entertaining. So my talk was entitled, Growing with MySQL. The slides themselves are pretty sparse, and I had my talk simultaneously translated (good thing I had some practice in Japan, beforehand), so all in all, I had less time to get my message across.

However, the room was full, and it was one of those amazing standing room audiences that I so always like to see. In actuality, with questions, I overran, and gave a 30 minute talk, with generally no objections from the audience (or organisers).

Attendance at the event, in total, must have been about 700-800 folk. There were 500 showbags, and they were all finished by lunchtime. I caught up with Lalo (ex-Exoweb colleague), who handed me a nice pink Software Freedom Day t-shirt. Lets just say, you’ve got to be sure of your masculinity, before putting it on :)

I fielded some interesting questions, and the usual “How come Enterprise sources aren’t available if you don’t pay? How is that freedom?” of questions, to which I always honestly inform the questioner, that you’d get it at the BitKeeper source tree, available online.

During the event, I continually did plug, a MySQL Partner in China, Great Open Source, mainly because they were my excellent hosts, and they’re the focal point for all things MySQL in Beijing. The crowd was always interested in hearing that MySQL had a Cluster Team, that worked out of the Great Open Source offices, and I also mentioned a Summer of Code 2007 student, Jin Chen, who’s Chinese in origin, but is in Canada completing her studies at the moment,

The university that hosted us? Tsinghua University. This university is apparently ranked number one in China, though there’s a continuing battle with Peking University for the coveted spot.

Now, a few things I learned:

  1. OpenOffice.org has been forked, and there is a RedFlag Office now. I amused the RedFlag Office folk at the booth, when I showed them the easter egg (Help->Ctrl+SDT) which brings up the credits. They were impressed when they saw my name float by.
  2. There are about five known forks of MySQL in China. They are just basically renamed to something else, and rebuilt. Seems uncouth, and I understand things are being done to fix this.
  3. Mandriva and Red Flag seem to be pretty active in the Chinese market. Ubuntu is gaining great traction and momentum, thanks in large to Amy Jiang and her crew.
  4. Further language assistance from MySQL needs to happen so that more Chinese can take part in the Quality Contributor Program.

The event was generally fabulous. Walking around the show floor, speaking to people, being the only English talk in the audience of entirely Chinese talks (!), spreading the good word of MySQL and open source in general, I had a fabulous time at Software Freedom Day, Beijing, 2007. I guess I was just lucky to be in Beijing at that point in time anyway (literally, a transit between Japan and Germany). I’m also extremely greatful to my hosts: Great Open Source (Claude, George, Frank, Grace), the SFD organisers and team in general, and Ken & Michael who had a dinner with me (Exoweb management folk).

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