HCC!platform Linux and Ubuntu NL organise a large release party every two years to celebrate the LTS release. Yesterday was the ‘Ubuntu NL Releaseparty 10.04‘ in hotel and conference centre ‘de Reehorst’ in the town of Ede. A large group of people assembled to tell visitors all about the new release and install it for them on their computers. Representatives of the different (Dutch) open source communities were present as well with their own stands and space was also available to the sponsors of the release party to show their involvement in the open source community. There were about 30 lectures and workshops on the day introducing visitors to a range of subjects.
Members of interest groups in the HCC! — the Dutch computer users’ association — showed their hobbies to the public: Unix, Music, Photo Editing, Gaming, CompUsers. There were also a few representatives of local HCC! groups to show visitors what there is to do in HCC! near them. There were also members providing support to visitors with computer problems.
I spent most of the day behind the Ubuntu NL table, which was also where the three demo computers kindly provided by OS4Free stood. OS4Free is the online computer shop of an Ubuntu NL member that almost always lends us demo computers for conferences and such. We gave answers to general questions from visitors. showed them some of the Ubuntu books available on the market and handed out leaflets of OS4Free.
The stand wasn’t the only place I saw that day. I attended two talks: ‘Ubuntu 10.04 Demo’ by Sebastian Schauenburg and ‘Changing the Linux Desktop Game’ by Fabrice Mous, coincidently both employees of Ictivity. The first was a nice and varied introduction to the new Ubuntu release, but since I have been running Lucid since Alpha 1 I was pretty familiar with the changes already. Therefore the most interesting one was the latter: Fabrice Mous — who has worked as a consultant for the Dutch government’s NOiV project — talked about the way the desktop has changed since 2001/2002 and why open source in general and particularly Linux never makes it to the desktops of governments. There have been many test pilots, but once those end and (in the typical Dutch fashion) twenty reports have been written about it everything stays like it was. The conclusion basically was: changing the way a government works is a terse, bureaucratic process that will take time. We’re not there yet, but some encouraging things were said in parliament and by (former) secretaries of state. Most of these pretty words didn’t lead to anything, but it does show that politics becomes increasingly aware of open source and its advantages.
Fabrice Mous said he would put his slides online at his LinkedIn profile.
I was also pleased to meet journalist Brenno de Winter, who has done a lot of work to open up local governments to the public by forcing municipalities via legal case to give information on their IT policies — that should be freely available (on request) to civilians — freely. The Dutch Federation of Municipalities fought hard against this. Brenno de Winter is also monitoring the Dutch government’s project to encourage and oblige the use of open standards and open source for government, the NOiV. When around 2004 the license contracts with Microsoft had to be renewed the Dutch Federation of Municipalities suddenly started to behave very evasive and aggressive to queries for more information about what was happening and how it fitted in the government policy that government and semi-governmental organisations have to use open standards unless a sufficiently compelling reason is given. It is still unclear what exactly happened back then.
You can read the Dutch news article from HCC! about the release party at their website. According to their estimates around 300 visitors came to the event.