Unidistro & Guadalinex meeting.

It has been way too long since I’ve last blogged, I’ve been very busy with college exams and my work at the Oficina del Software Libre (Free Software Office) at the university.

One of my tasks at the OSL is the university personalized distro, SILU, a project started by Juanje on 2003, when we delivered 42K copies of the distro beside a copy of a cd with free software for "The Evil OS" ™ to all students that inscribed into the university that year.

Since then, many other universities at Spain started creating their own free software office and their own linux distribution too, and we (the spanish university community) realized that we should start to share our knowledge on this area in order to don’t reinvent the wheel.

The Junta de Andalucia and Emergya (the company wich is developing Guadalinex, the andalusian linux distro) organized a Guadalinex Contributors Summit last tuesday, which was inspired on the UDS (Ubuntu Developers Summit), so, universities taked that opportunity to meet us on Seville the day after and we had the first Unidistro Meeting on wednesday, organized by Emergya (with the special help of Juanje) and the Seville University.

Unidistro is a project that tries to unify the knowledge, resources and procedures for creating, delivering and promoting the linux distributions for the spanish universities, and the meeting was the first opportunity to clarify our goals and strategy and create a real roadmap for the project, something which was really hard to do via mailing list.

The event was extremly productive, there was several representants from seven (or so, can’t remember the exact number) universities. To sum up some conclusions, we’re going to use ubuntu as our reference distro (we’re not closed to support other ones, but since all universities are going to use ubuntu as base, it doesn’t make sense to spend time on supporting other linux distributions). We are going to use the same tool to generate the distro, which is gendist (mainly developed by Jesus Espino from UC3M). And the most exciting part from a technical point of view, we’re going to create two frameworks, one to share the knowledge about applications in order to automate the creation of metapackages and other one to automate and make an easier customization, branding and distribution generation.

There are several workgroups, I’m working two of  them right now, the knowledege base for application framework and the GNOME customization and branding workgroup, which is aimed to document and create tools to generate package that customizes the artwork, configuration, user profiles and so. This will give me the opportunity to spend some time working and learning on the GNOME areas that like the most, artwork and system administration. I think that this is an opportunity to help federico to dig information about the big deployments problems and possible solutions.

There is a KDE workgroup too, which is leaded by the other university from canary islands, the  Universidad de La Laguna, by my friend from the canary islands LUG,  Rene Martin aka AgarFu), this will also help us to find ways to do a better integration between the both big desktop enviroments on linux.

I’m very excited about the project, the most interesting part for me, is the strategy to deliver and introduce the linux support inside the university, this part includes the knowledge share between universities in order to find the most successful methods to promote free software inside the university.