Linux Magazine Brazil Reporting Live from Bossa Conference

Mar 19, 2008
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Our sister publication, Linux Magazine Brazil, is providing quasi-real time coverage of INdT's Bossa Conference in both English and Portuguese. Linux Magazine Brazil Editor Pablo Hess is on site at the event in Recife and will be interviewing famous names from the Open Source scene exclusively for Linux Magazine. Read on for his initial report.

Bossa Conference 2008: “we try to do meaningful things”

At 9:34 on an unusually cloudy morning in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil, Sandro Alves, Manager for New Businesses Development at Nokia Technology Institute (INdT) opened the 2008 edition of Bossa Conference. Sandro played a quick video detailing the history and attractions of Porto de Galinhas, Recife (where INdT is actually located) and the state of Pernambuco (where Recife is located).

Alves welcomed the 250 people attending the event with enthusiastic words about the last edition of Bossa Conference and how successful it was in achieving its goals. In a press conference right after the opening, the INdT manager explained what the institute does, how it does it, and most importantly, why the people in there do it.

Driven by design & concepts, not technology

Sandro characterizes INdT as "driven by design and concepts", not "driven by technology", although he makes it perfectly clear that this is not a criticism to Open Source developers. "When we started, we were driven by technology", he says, "but we gradually noticed that the 'driven by design and concepts' approach was much better, and it's been working very well ever since."

INdT's Recife unit employs only Open Source in the development of new applications and frameworks for Nokia mobile devices, and that's what Bossa Conference is all about: "the event is designed to promote interaction between developers", Sandro states. If you think this is just another nerdy conference, well, you might want to take a second look at it. "Bossa Conference is designed to maximize the time people can interact with each other." The program includes daily 'after hours' sessions, when participants are taken to any strictly social location in order to exchange ideas and concepts about programming for mobile embedded platforms – and sometimes to have a chance to meet their idols. "In these events, developers achieve much higher productivity than by remote collaboration", Alves tells us.

The 72 INdT-employed Open Source staff seem to have lots of fun in their daily routines. Their work includes hacking "everything from the kernel to the GUI", Sandro keeps telling, trying their best to come up with and test new ideas and concepts for making the use experience with mobile embedded devices better and better. For that, they abuse the Python programming language "for its great applicability in rapid prototyping of new ideas", which helped them come up with successful projects such as Canola (already in version 2.0), Carman and Mamona. "Carman has even been showcased at a car show event in São Paulo, where it was shown to be both a media center and performance meter", as Sandro proudly puts it.

Open Source caveats

When asked about the issue that their Open Source achievings, although fostered by Nokia, could actually be used by anyone else, Alves just answered that they are still working on this, but "it's really Nokia's call." Talking about their Open Source code publishing policy, Sandro revealed that they only open to anything when the code is "100% ready."

Community

At INdT, "the Open Source community is both a client and a partner", Sandro said, meaning that many of the developments at the institute are answers to the community's demands, while at the same time, they are often helped by the same community.

Participants from the community at the Conference are usually people that "love coding", Sandro says. They see themselves as "without any political or ideological inclination", he adds. The 250 person limit is meant to ensure that only highly qualified and motivated people attend the event, and the positive feedback from everyone – from the public to speakers to organizers – confirms its success.

2008 even better than 2007

In comparison with the 2007 edition of Bossa Conference, this 2008 event shows various improvements. Besides the hotel "upgrade" to an really beautiful resort, the program now has fewer speakers and "a more humane time table." Also, much attention has been put at the choice of speakers. The "consolidation of the event in the international conference agenda", according to Sandro, is another plus this year.

2007 was a pretty good year. "We educated 2000+ people in Brazil on software development for mobile embedded devices", Alves estimates. That includes Code Camps, Nokia Technology Days and many other projects for interacting with university students. "We try to do meaninful things", the manager states. "So, we must help our surroundings evolve with us". Sandro recalls a curious little example: "if you don't show people a Ferrari, then no one is going to want to drive it". That is why INdT has to captivate developers and users, so that people will wish they can code for and use those mobile devices, and everything will grow together. "Interacting with university students is also a great means of recruiting more and more talented and skilled people for helping us improve our concepts and design", Alves finishes.

Only three hours have passed since the beginning of Bossa Conference, and it already feels like people here are actually helping define the future of Open Source mobile embedded devices.

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