Category Archives: Israeli Community

AGPL enforced: The Israeli ICT authority releases code

Data.gov.il was created in 2011 after the Israeli social justice protests as part of the the public participation initiative and started to offer data held by the government. Back then the website was based on Drupal. In 2016 it was changed to CKAN, a designated system for releasing data. This system is licensed under the AGPLv3 requiring source code availability for anyone who can access the the system over a network, de facto for every user.

Since the change to CKAN, open source people asked the state to release the code according to the license but didn’t get a clear answer. All this time when it’s clear it’s violation.  This led Gai Zomer to file a formal complaint in March 2017 with the Israeli State Comptroller. Absurdly, that same month the ICT authority mentioned a policy to release source code it owns, while failing to release code it has taken from others and adapted.

With the end of the summer break and Jew holidays, and after I wasn’t able to get the source, I decided to switch to legal channels, and with the help of Jonathan Klinger and my company, Kaplan Open Source Consulting, we notified they should provide the source code or we’ll address the court.

Well, it worked. In 3 days time the CKAN extensions where available on the website, but in a problematic way, so users weren’t able to download easily. This is why we decided not to publish this code release and let them fix it first. In addition we made it clear all the source code should be available, not only the extensions. Further more, if they already release it’s recommended to use git format instead of just “dumping” a tarball. So we told them if they aren’t going to make a git repository we’ll do that ourselves, but in any case, would prefer them to do that .

While this issue is still pending, the ICT authority had a conference called “the citizen 360” about e-gov and open government in which they reaffirmed their open source plans.

A slide about open source from the Israeli ICT authority presentation

A slide about open source from the Israeli ICT authority presentation

Now, a month later, after our second letter to them, the about page in data.gov.il was updated with links to the ICT authority GitHub account which has the sources for the website and the extensions. A big improvement, and an important mark point as the commit to the repository was done by an official (gov.il) email address.

Beyond congratulating the Israeli ICT authority for their steps forward and the satisfaction of our insisting on them became fruitful, we would like to see the repository get updated on a regular basis, the code being given back to the various CKAN extensions (e.g. Hebrew translation). In general, we hope they would to get inspired by how the how data.gov.uk is doing technical transparency. If we allow ourselves to dream, we would like to see Israel becoming a dominate member in the CKAN community and among the other governments who use it.

We’re happy to be the catalyst for open source in the Israeli government, and we promise to keep insisted where needed. We know that due to other requests and notifications more organizations are on their way to release code.

(This post is a translation from Hebrew of a post in Kaplan Open Source Consulting at https://kaplanopensource.co.il/2017/11/20/data-gov-il-code-release/)

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Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Fedora, Government Policy, Israeli Community, LibreOffice, PHP, Proud to use free software

LibreOffice community celebrates 7th anniversary

The Document foundation blog have a post about LibreOffice 7th anniversary:

Berlin, September 28, 2017 – Today, the LibreOffice community celebrates the 7th anniversary of the leading free office suite, adopted by millions of users in every continent. Since 2010, there have been 14 major releases and dozens of minor ones, fulfilling the personal productivity needs of both individuals and enterprises, on Linux, macOS and Windows.

I wanted to take a moment to remind people that 7 years ago the community decided to make the de facto fork of OpenOffice.org official after life under Sun (and then Oracle) were problematic. From the very first hours the project showed its effectiveness. See my post about LibreOffice first steps. Not to mention what it achieved in the past 7 years.

This is still one of my favourite open source contributions, not because it was sophisticated or hard, but because it as about using the freedom part of the free software:
Replace hardcoded “product by Oracle” with “product by %OOOVENDOR”.

On a personal note, for me, after years of trying to help with OOo l10n for Hebrew and RTL support, things started to go forward in a reasonable pace, getting patches in after years of trying, having upstream fix some of the issues, and actually able doing the translation. We made it to 100% with LibreOffice 3.5.0 in February 2012 (something we should redo soon…).

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Filed under i18n & l10n, Israeli Community, LibreOffice

Recruiting for Open Source jobs

Part of services of Kaplan open source consulting is recruiting services to help companies find good open source people. In addition, we also try to help the community to find open source friendly businesses to work at.

Expect the “Usual Suspects” (e.g. RedHat), I encounter job descriptions which convince me these companies know the advantages of using open source projects and hiring open source people.

A few recent examples I found in Israel:

  • Advantages: People who like to build stuff (we really like people who maintain/contribute to open source projects) (Wizer Research)
  • You will: Incubate and contribute to open source projects (iguazio)
  • The X factor – significant contribution to an open-source community (unnamed startup)
  • An example open source project our team released is CoreML (Apple)
  • Job Responsibilities: Write open-source tools and contribute to open-source projects. (unnamed startup)
  • We’d like to talk to people who: Appreciate open-source culture and philosophy. (Seeking Alpha)

From the applicant side, the possibility to know which code base he or she is going to work on could help do a better and more educated choice about the offered position. While from the company side, getting “hard” evidence of what are the applicant capabilities and code looks like instead of just describing them or trying to demonstrate them on short tests. Not to mention the applicant’s ability to work as part of a team or community.

For the Israeli readers, you can see the full list at https://kaplanopensource.co.il/jobs/

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Filed under Israeli Community, Open source businesses

Open source @ Midburn, the Israeli burning man

This year I decided to participate in Midburn, the Israeli version of burning man. Whiling thinking of doing something different from my usual habit, I found myself with volunteering in the midburn IT department and getting a task to make it an open source project. Back into my comfort zone, while trying to escape it.

I found a community of volunteers from the Israeli high tech scene who work together for building the infrastructure for Midburn. In many ways, it’s already an open source community by the way it works. One critical and formal fact was lacking, and that’s the license for the code. After some discussion we decided on using Apache License 2.0 and I started the process of changing the license, taking it seriously, making sure it goes “by the rules”.

Our code is available on GitHub at https://github.com/Midburn/. And while it still need to be more tidy, I prefer the release early and often approach. The main idea we want to bring to the Burn infrastructure is using Spark as a database and have already began talking with parallel teams of other burn events. I’ll follow up on our technological agenda / vision. In the mean while, you are more than welcome to comment on the code or join one of the teams (e.g. volunteers module to organize who does which shift during the event).

 

 

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RTL status for Libre Office 3.5.0

As LibreOffice is approaching its final 3.5.0 release, I’d like to sum up the RTL status for RC1.

So far, 6 RTL related bugs were resolved in the 3.5 cycle (#32530, #34222, #40950, #43790#43793, #44078), and a few minor issues reported directly to the developer’s mailing list got quick responses. Most importantly, the new features of page break and header/footer not only support RTL but actually looks good. During the LibreOffice conference I was suggested to help with these features, providing feedback, and I’m glade the needed attention was given to it.

Besides that, a few l10n and translation issues were solved in the process of doing the Hebrew translation (which also reflects on other RTL languages). At a few cases, these issue because a general l10n issues which affects all the languages.

In general, I found the core developers responsive to mails about RTL support. I’m sure the talk about RTL problems during the conference helped, as well as being more active in the project and having more personal acquaintance with the developers.

That’s being said, RTL support for LibreOffice still has problems, which I hope will be pushed during the 3.5.x cycles (full list at Bug 43808, the rtl meta bug). As to get some focus regarding was is to be done, I’m listing the top problems:

  1. #44657 – RTL UI: Horizontal scrollbar in calc main window is broken
  2. #33302 – brackets inverted in rtl text (mac only)
  3. #37692 – RTL list numbering reverses its direction
  4. #42070 RTL support in broken in presenter Console extension
  5. #32531 Incorrect cursor key movement between table cells of different directionality
  6. #104515 RTL UI: moving active embedded object to the left moves it to the right (reported for OO.org, but verified in LibO)
  7. #37128 Writer saves text alignment of RTL paragraph not according to the ODF specification

I hoped to have the first two done for 3.5.0, but didn’t succeed in getting them fixed. Will keep trying…

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Filed under i18n & l10n, Israeli Community, LibreOffice

The Mozilla Inn

Hello planet Mozilla. For my first post appearing in the planet I’d like to write about a recent community aspect I experienced, the rest will probably be more technical.

While we have some great volunteers participating in Mozilla, there’s aren’t any Mozilla representatives in Israel. To be exact, there are a few Israeli that do work for Mozilla (and I think they work from within Israel), but we don’t feel them in the local free software community.

I was very surprised to see 5 people from Mozilla attending Wikimania 2011, but this is of course a good surprise. I would have excepted to see representatives in a free software conference, but we still haven’t had any international free software conference in Israel (maybe some day I could bring Debconf here).

A week later I had another representative arriving for a free software conference I organized called August Penguin. This is the first time having someone arriving from abroad just for the local conference.

For me, a free software user and contributor, Mozilla is mostly a software project. Meeting the various representatives gave me the chance to know some of the other sides of the organization and its activities. For me that was really interesting and I think that it would be positive to do many of the activities also in Israel.

Besides the interest in the organization, I had the chance to host some of the representatives by showing them around, providing a place to crash at and making sure they stay after the conferences would be as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Reflecting back, my place would probably could be the Moziila Inn as I had 3 people from Mozilla as guests in one week (on separate days). For me that was fulfilling the community side of the term “free software community”, as we’re not only a technical community. Others might even call this an outreach program (a term I heard from all 3 guess in various contexts), but I’m still not sure who is outreaching to whom (:

So if you happen to work on Mozilla stuff, and arriving Israel, drop me a note…

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Filed under Israeli Community, Mozilla

Linux 20th anniversary T-shirts

I’m organizing August Penguin, the yearly free software / open source conference in Israel for and by the community. We celebrate the 10th time we’re holding this conference. I started going to these conferences just after high school, later I got more and more involved and now this is my 2nd year of being the main organizer (with a few others who provide great help).

To celebrate the Linux 20th anniversary and August Penguins 10th anniversary, I thought to print copies of the Linux 20th anniversary T-shirts. I tired to contact the Linux Foundation to coordinate this, but got no response. I’m writing this post to ask for help with finding the people who can approve this printing in behalf of the Linux Foundation.

For those who can read Hebrew, the conference schedule is available at Hamakor’s wiki. The rest are welcome to read the English version (provided by Google translate, so not totally accurate).

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Filed under Israeli Community