Posts Tagged ‘Opensource’

One year in Berlin, one year at Red Hat

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

In March 2011, I signed my contract with Red Hat and moved from Zurich to Berlin, as posted here in April 2011.

After one year it is time for a review of my “new life”. At once, a lot of things changed in my life: New Country, new City, new Appartment, new Job. Quite a lot of stuff.

At my former job, I had a notice period of three months which gaves me some time for the planing of the move. A lot of burocracy was waiting for me, both in Switzerland and in Germany.

Getting an appartment
The first challange was to get an appartment in Berlin. I went to Linux Tag 2011 in May to have a look to quite a few appartments. It was not that easy as I was told from different people. Gentrification is not only a problem in Zurich, but also in Berlin.

The chicken and egg problem. In order to get an appartment, you need a “Schufa-Auszug”, a paper that “certifies” your creditability. Usually it is only possible to get this paper when beeing a resident in Germany. How to get a resident without an appartment when you need a Schufa-Auszug to get an appartment when you need a residency in Germany and therefore need a Schufa-Auszug?

So I went to a Schufa-Shop and it took me 30min of explaining the clerk that the processes at real estate brokers ar completly idiotic but I need the paper. So I finally got the Schufa-Auszug with my old address in Zurich.

Finally I was able to sign a contract with a land lord. The appartment and its location is very nice and very close to the excellent public transport (although, Berliners grumble about the S-Bahn trains, it is excellent compared .i.e to Munich).
As you can see in the picture, it is close to Alexanderplatz, the new City center of Berlin, just two underground train stations away to the west. Two underground stations to the east, and I find myself in the Party Neighborhood (Kiez in Berlin-Speak) at Simon-Dach-Strasse. Walking south, crossing the Spree river and I find myself in the vibrant Berlin Club scene.

A special feature of the appartment is the roof top terrace where neighbors meet for partying. Quite uncommon for Germany: There are washing machines available, so I dont need to buy one. Also quite uncommon in Germany: The appartment has a kitchen, no hassle to buy the stuff.

Preparing the move
The usual stuff like getting rid of old stuff and putting the rest into moving boxes is straight forward, as well as finding the movers. More complex is the coordination of the due dates for all the stuff.

Paper work part one
Since Switzerland is not in the customs union of the EU, it adds more complexity. I need two papers: The stamped registration form of Berlin, and the stamped levaing form of Zurich.

Getting the first form is straight forward: Just do a online-reservation at the registration office (Meldeamt at Bezirksamt), getting there and walk out after 10 minutes. Myth busted: German bureaucracy is always complex

The latter one cost a shitload of money. You get it from the Zurich tax office, but only if you pay the guesstimated taxes upfront, in cash!. Of course this means you need to fill out a lot of forms upfront, what an annoyance. Myth busted: Swiss bureaucracy is alwas easy.

The next task was then to get a health insurance. Since a lot of Germans are living in Switzerland, I just some good advices upfront, easy stuff. Now it was time to cancel all contracts such as Internet access, mobile phone contract, insurances and getting new contracts in Berlin.

Emigration
I had a early start at Red Hat, so I left Switzeland on 26th of June, went to a training in Farnborough, UK spending the weekend in London and getting straight to Munich for another training and finally arrived in Berlin on 05. July 2011. In fact I was homeless for 1.5 weeks, sleeping in hotels. The first two days my furniture has not yet arrived, sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag.

Paperwork part two
Soon after the registration in Berlin, I got my tax payer ID number. I also needed to fill out a form with a rather complex title “Antrag auf Bescheinigung für den Lohnsteuerabzug” (something like application for a certificate for the income tax deduction). I needed to show up at the Finanzamt (Tax Office) and unlike the forms title suggests, it was painless.

Another important task was the application for change my Swiss driver license into a German one. The pitfall is that one needs to apply in the first six months after immigration or to jeoppardize the whole licese. Well I had to wait more than two months to get the license exchanged.

Assimilation
Left wing politicians do not like the word. From my point of view, foreigner should assimilate them reasonably. For me that was very easy since Switzerland and Germany has a lot in common. The same political and cultural values and – for northern Swiss people – the same language (well, kind of). Of course I needed to adapt my German getting rid of typical helvetisms which are not understood in Germany or understood in the wrong way which can annoy some Germans.

In meantime I got assimilated even better: I watch soccer matches ;-)

The foreigner
Everyone is a foreigner, nearly everywhere (unknown quote). So yes, I’ living as a foreigner now.

Almost everyone welcomed me in Berlin and other German cities where I was working and I quickly got new friends. The average German is generally more open minded and cosmopolitan than the avarage Swiss (especially when comparing Berlin with Zurich)

When I’m looking back to Switzerland and see how some people treat Germans: Its a shame! I wish that this mind will change in Switzerland and Germans are treated the same friendly way as I’m treated in Germany.

Living in Berlin
The crazy thing about my working contract with Red Hat is: I got offered to be based on a choice of four locations where Red Hat has offices: Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Berlin. I have already visited the first three cities multiple times, but I was never in Berlin before, just heared its a nice city. Well, Munich is beatiful but expensive and the Airport is only reachable by air. Stuttgart is a bit boring, Frankfurt hmm… So I was taking the risk and choose to move to Berlin without much knowledge about the city.

Well, I’m now living in Friedrichshain, just north of Kreuzberg.

Berlin is cool! I mean: Really cool! I guess you can not find any other europeen metropolis which offers a greater diversity of culture, food and of course people. Going to clubs in Berlin on weekends is a delight. You can find clubs for almost every style of music.

Culinary: Well, the Currywurst and Döner Kebap was invented in Berlin, but this are not the real highlights. In the Simon-Dach-Kiez as well as near Alexanderplatz one will find restaurants with food from allover the planet. Thai, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Italian… you will find them all. There are even Swiss restaurants, but I never made it yet.

Public transport: Awesome! A S-Bahn train every two to five minutes, same applies to underground trains. During the weekends, S- and U-Bahn are operating the whole night, without any idiotic night-surcharge, and of course there is a train every approx. 15min. From my point of view the public transport in Zurich looks like a really bad (but expensive) joke.

Long distance high speed ICE Trains are also awesome. Berlin-Hamburg (approx 300km) in 1:39h. Zurich-Geneva (approx 300km) in 2:43h

home sickness
The first few weeks have been very hard for me. Yes, I had home sickness. I left all my friends in Switzeland and I miss the beautiful old towns of Zurich and Winterthur as well as the mountains. What I really miss is the “third dimension”, it is all flat here, the highest elevation in Berlin are the Müggelberge (Berg means mountain, what a fool) with 114,7m above sealevel. Before I left Switzerland I was not aware about how beautiful the Alpes are, it was just a matter of course to always have them in sight.

In the last 12 months I have been visiting Switzerland three times. I have enjoyed those trips, visting my old frieds, having a BBQ country side and strolling trough the old towns of Winterthur and Zurich.

Whats the better country for a living? Germany or Switzerland?
This is a question I hear all the time. My answer is always the same: Neither of them are better, those countries are just different, but not that much.

My job as Senior Linux Consultant at Red Hat
When Red Hat approached me, I first was surprised, then I got a contract and I got it very fast :-)

It is a very interessing and challenging job. As a consultant I’m visiting a lot of customers to help them with particular technologies in their projects. Every customers has its own processes and infrastructure, so I need to adapt very fast.I also travel a lot, customers are usually located in central europe, mostly in Germany. Somethimes it happens that I can travel a bit further, for example, my customer engagement in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was an impressive experience.

Travelling means to see a lot of different locations, that makes it even more interessting. The drawback is being only at home for the weekends.

At the end of the day, Red Hat was the best that could happen to me, a open source guy. Lots of nice and very competent and open minded collegues in a international team and the possibility to always get in touch with the latest and greatest technology in the open source world.

Having fun? Yes, sure…

I got employed by Red Hat

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

This is pretty cool: End of March I signed a contract with Red Hat as a senior Linux consultant. It is not just “another new job”. It is cool for (at least) two reasons: First reason is that Red Hat is not “just another company”, it is Red Hat which is not very comparable to other employers, it is THE Linux and open source company, for me as a open source guy, this is perfect. The second reason is: I’m moving from Zurich in Switzerland to Berlin in Germany.

So, two major changes in my life at the same time. I’m looking forward to the challenges that are waiting for me.

I’ll continue to work at Siemens IT Solutions and Services AG until approx. mid of June and start working at Red Hat at 1st of July.

From May, 09 to May 15. I’ll be the first time in Berlin to have a look at the city and its different suburbs. I’ll also be there to organize some stuff required to settle in Berlin. In the same time, Europe’s biggest Linux conference will be held in Berlin, the “Linux Tag”. I guess I’ll have a lot of fun, and maybe meet some of my future workmates.

It is hard for me to leave my country, I have a lot of friends here. On the other hand, Berlin is just about 1.5h away by plane. As a consultant, I’m travelling a lot. Because of that, it would not be that easy to build up a social network (I mean real-life-stuff, not Facebook) in Berlin.

It also is not easy for me to leave Siemens, I’m involved in a very cool project with the Swiss government (all Systems will be RHEL6) and I also have friends and nice workmates at work which I’m going to leave.

I already know quite some people at Red Hat, they are all nice and I guess some of them will get good friends over the time.

Having fun?

Absolutely guaranteed!

FUDCon and FrOSCamp Day One

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

FUDCon 2010 was the first Fedora event I visited, so I was curious about who to meet there. I was keen to visit the talks about different topics. Most of this talks have been great and gave a good overview on the topic discussed.

It was a Co-event together with FrOSCamp, so there was also a small exhibition floor where different projects presented themself.

At lunch in the lovely restaurant “Hot Pasta” I had the chance to talk to other Fedora people. The table has been quite international: German, Swiss, Dutch and US (Maybe other countries?) People talking.

After countless more chats with people, at 18:00 the bar was open and the sponsored Free Beer was served. The party beginns.

For more pictures have a look to Máirín’s Photos on flicker.com. Its also worth looking at Planet Fedora.

Have fun!

Oracle ditches OpenSolaris

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

OpenSolaris was dropped by Oracle

As many people already suspected, Oracle will ditch OpenSolaris as announced here: OpenSolaris cancelled, to be replaced with Solaris 11 Express. The first Solaris 11 Express release is expected end of this year. If is has similar usage restrictions like the Oracle 10 Express database then it will be quite useless.

OpenSolaris was a good thing for both, Sun and its customers. Customers had a continuous preview of upcoming features in new Solaris versions. Sun was getting feedback from customers. The community was able to contribute to the product. It had a similar role for Sun as Fedora has it for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) or OpenSUSE for Novell.

Still open source, but closed development model
While most parts of Solaris are staying open source, Oracle switched the open source development model into a closed source model. Quoting the announcement: We will no longer distribute source code for the entirety of the Solaris operating system in real-time while it is developed, on a nightly basis.

This will also affect other projects and products such as FreeBSD’s ZFS support and Nexanta.

Light at the end of the tunnel
The light at the end of the tunnel is the newly founded project Illumos. A main sponsor of the project is Nextanta, as its main building block of the product is OpenSolaris.

What is the OpenSource strategy of Oracle?
It is unclear what Oracle is planning for its other open source products such as OpenOffice, MySQL and Java. In the past, all of those products have been open source enablers for companies. The is little to no information about those products.

Not really fun….

An example why open source software is cool

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Recently I have set up an Apache Tomcat. As a replacement for the Tomcat manager I deployed Psi-Probe for easy deployment and access to statistics.

Afterwards I installed the production software which needs to add a JVM parameter user.country=CH to have the proper date and time format used in Switzerland. This had a unwanted side-effect to Psi-Probe. The Interface switched to German, no way to switch the language back to English. Since my mother tongue is German, no big deal so far. Really? No! I had really problems to understand what navigation items etc.  are meaning. The German translation was that bad, it actually crippled the application.

I had the choice to either life with it, or change it and contribute it to the project. I made the later. It was about one hour of work. Hours after submitting, the changed translation file it was in SVN. The next version now comes with a much improved German translation.

This is how open source software works. If someone is not happy with the product, simply change the annoying things and submit it upstream. By the way: Psi-Probe itself is a fork of Lambda-Probe which was not maintained anymore from its origin project owner.

Try to do that with closed source software…

Have fun!

Apache HTTP server and its further development

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The Apache httpd is one of the most stable software pieces which is still in use. The latest huge step forward was with the release of 2.0. Quo vadis Apache httpd? The most current release is 2.2.15. During the 2.2.x release cycle, there have basically been only bug-fix releases (Okay, response header rewrite starting on 2.2.9  is a nice feature). This brings me to the question: What is going on with 2.4?

The answer is quite simple: As you can read on http://httpd.apache.org/docs/trunk/new_features_2_4.html, not much. Why is the Apache httpd developing so slow? From my point of view the answer is quite simple: Apache httpd is finished. It is stable, reliable and has (almost) all features people wish. @Apache httpd developers: Great job! Thanks a lot!

Additionally there are tons of external modules to enhance the capabilities of this really great piece of software.

Honestly I can not publish my wish-list for the Apache httpd because there are no open wishes for me. Can someone have such a wish list? Please let us know and write a comment.

Have fun…

Directory services and Linux

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

LDAP is interesting, but not that easy to set up, at least not the server part.

I made different approaches to install OpenLDAP without success, the problem was always the schemas and initial data load.

With Red Hat Directory Server and its open source pendant CentOS Directory Server I was able to successfully install and maintain a LDAP directory.

Red Hat Directory Server is the successor of the Netscape Directory Server which has been purchased by Red Hat some time ago and has been open-sourced to comply with Red Hats product policy.

Is the Red Hat directory server a replacement for OpenLDAP? Yes and no. Yes because it is a open source product, available for free, and NO because there is only a small community around it.

To have a fully supported environment you need to buy a subscription from Red Hat. The starter is List-Priced @ 5000 USD/year for 500 entries. I think price tag is completely insane.

In contrary the open source variant CentOS directory server is for free. Decide by your self whats the right solution for you, OpenLDAP is definitively not ready for enterprise authentication.

Another approach is authenticating against a Microsoft Active Directory. This causes other problems which will be discussed in a future blog

Have fun!.