I can’t remember how writing an annual reflection became a tradition, but after writing them for the last two years, it is now a habit. Every time I look back on all that the last year brought into my life, it is surreal. Many things that happened, I could never have expected one or two years ago. And perhaps now, I see that life is defined by the unexpected moments: the things that surprise us, warm our hearts, sadden us, and remind us of our humanity. Thus, I present my year in review of 2017.
Open source software has come a long way since the turn of the century. Each year, more and more people are embracing open source technology and development models. Not just people, though – corporations and governments are exploring open source solutions too. From the White House to the Italian army, open source is appearing more frequently in the public sector. But perhaps the newest addition to the list is the municipality of Tirana, Albania.
On June 11th, the local government in the municipality of Tirana migrated their private cloud to Nextcloud, an open source cloud and office productivity suite. The decision to move to an integrated cloud / office suite came after internal discussion about security and performance. Because Nextcloud is entirely open source, it stood out as a powerful option for the municipality to consider.
Open source software is nothing new in 2017. Even now, big tech giants are exploring open source. More and more companies allow employees to contribute to open source software on company hours, if it isn’t altogether encouraged. However, design assets and work have not enjoyed the same popularity with open source licensing and use as software has. However, Albanian design agency Ura Design is helping change this.
The past few months have brought many changes for me. I traveled throughout Europe to experience some of the open source conferences and communities across the continent. Along the way, I met incredible people with powerful stories about their own communities. However, there is one community that I knew about before I came to Europe. The Open Labs Hackerspace in Tirana, Albania is a special community that I was fortunate enough to discover and meet. Together, they have helped set in motion the open source way in their own city.
This article was originally published on the Fedora Magazine.
Open source projects are built online and a lot of their community members are placed all over the world. Even though projects have people from around the world, this doesn’t stop ambitious community members to organize open source conferences or events in their own cities. Whether they’re focused generally to open source or for a specific project, you can find a variety of conferences, hackathons, workshops, or meet-ups all over the world. Fedora benefits from having Ambassadors to attend these events to introduce Fedora and spread the word about the community. It’s not uncommon to see Fedora participating in these events, and Linux Weekend 2017 in Tirana, Albania was not an exception.
From March 25-26, 2017 in Tirana, Albania, nearly 130 people attended the first-ever Linux Weekend 2017. Linux Weekend was organized by Open Labs Hackerspace at the Universiteti Politeknik i Tiranës as an introduction to Linux for beginners. Throughout Tirana, universities have a strong focus on Windows or macOS operating systems and little focus is given to Linux. Open Labs community members wanted to organize an event that would promote Linux as an open source alternative and demonstrate some of its benefits over proprietary environments. The event collected representatives from various communities, including Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, NextCloud, MusicBrainz, and more.
The local hackerspace in Tirana, Albania might be small, but they make up for size in spirit. During the weekend of 18-19 March 2017, the Open Labs Hackerspace organized the first-ever 48 hour “open source” hackathon focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are seventeen objectives identified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build a better world, starting in our own communities. Some of the goals include quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, clean energy, and more. During the course of the hackathon, participants selected a goal, broke into teams, and worked on projects to make real change in their own neighborhoods. In the spirit of open source, all projects are made available under free and open licenses.
Over the past year, I’ve met incredible people from around the world doing great things in their local communities. At my university, the Women in Computing @ RIT program provides networking for students with faculty, staff, and alumni. They also help advance women in computing through community outreach. I’ve also come into contact with two other international tech communities with interesting stories of their own. With the help of the WiC events committee, we are working on organizing a virtual meetup with WiC from New York, Open Labs Albania, and FOSS Wave from India to introduce each other, share experiences, and more.