SFD 08 Singapore

I am really pleased with the success of SFD Singapore. I was moderaing the business track and it saw about 30-35 members in the audience for each of the topics.

I particularly liked the talks by Michael Cheng on the PHP Society and the talk by Jeff Jansen on FOSS in Non-Profits.

I started off my track by inviting Daniel Ng, Red Hat Asia Pacific’s Marketing Director (disclosure: I work for Red Hat Asia Pacific) who spoke about how open source is really a way of life – more than just software. Some of the ideas he talked about were derived from Wikinomics, it was nonetheless useful to point out that sharing of ideas and life in general, has always been open source.

The second speaker was Tham Joon Nam of Novell Singapore. He spoke about “Your Linux is Ready – Interoperability Freedom for SMEs”. The topics he touch included how SuSE is the leading OS in supercomputing and on mainframes by citing info that is supposed to be on top500.org. I don’t think it is true that SuSE is a force to be contended with in the supercomputing space. I chose NOT to contradict him during his talk for I had to tread the fine line of moderator/LUGS.. I was disappointed that Joon Nam then went on to talk about how good it was that Novell had this deal with MS and how MS is now his reseller. Frankly, that relationship has totally lost any credibility Novell/SuSE had with the open source community. I wanted to ask him about the allegations of patent infringements alleged by MS but I think he is not the person to answer.

The third speaker was Lim Chee Siong, from the Singapore Open Solaris Users’ Group, talking about “Open Solaris and You”. Technical glitches with his Open Solaris laptop to project on the screen was unfortunate. Eugene’s fedora laptop came to the rescue. But let that not distract anyone. Open Solaris is a good contender in getting into the open source space, but, frankly, there is no oxygen in the Open Solaris community. It is ten years too late (maybe 15 years). But let’s see.

The afternoon kicked off with a spirited talk by Michael Cheng of the PHP Users’ Group. I was very impressed with his enthusiasm and motiviation to establish the PHP Society and the fact that they now run classes to churn out PHP developers. Kudos to them. Learned that CakePHP is a framework for PHP developers much like RoR and the others. I think I will now suggest using PHP for next year’s code::XtremeApps 24-hour coding competition.

The next speaker was Ng Seah Wee of NSW Asia speaking about high availability computing. Seah Wee apologised that he did not have much in the way of presentation slides (which is perfectly fine), and he went on to share his experience in providing HA for government sites.

The final speaker was Jeff Jansen talking about “FOSS in Non-profit organizations”. He represents Wycliff and SIL.org. It was an enlightening talk because of what SIL provides – an ability for minorities around the world to have a) their languages documents and codified and b) an ability to use computers to create contents in those languages. He highlighted the work they have done to create an engine to accept and display unicode and how it is now available in OpenOffice.org. Pretty impressive work, I must say.

My track ended almost on time and we adjourned to the 5th floor of the SMU SIS building to visit the exhibition. It was nice to see 12 booths there. Asterisk solutions (via MaxCole), Ubuntu, Red Hat, Novell, NTU OSS, Mucro, NSW Asia, iZeno, Elpmis etc.

I did not get to visit the exhibition area, but I am told that there were a steady stream of visitors. All in, I am told that a few hundred folks visited. Glad to hear that.

Looking forward to SFD 09.


  1. Re: PHP
    Well, the challenge is then of what language we are to support and promote. We can have both PHP and Python in which case both CakePHP and Django could be the platforms. But I need to look at the big picture before proposing something.
    I guess what I am saying is, make a case for me. Please.

      • Re: PHP
        In 2007, it was Google Web Toolkit and Ruby on Rails. This year it was IBM’s ProjectZero.org and Adobe’s AIR.
        It is not so much as the number of frameworks, but tools that could be used to provide a means to allow participants to create something meaningful in 24 hours.

      • Re: PHP
        Django is rising in popularity, and it is being actively developed (version 1.0 was released a few weeks ago, with huge improvements over 0.9.6). Some say that it will have a same positive effect that RoR made on Ruby, onto Python. I’ve tried it and it does make web development fun. The Django community is pretty strong too.
        Of course, there are other Python web frameworks such as Pylons and CherryPy. I don’t know much about CakePHP, but if it’s good, why not?
        I’m just suggesting that Django be considered. I believe that it’s worth it.

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