Posts Tagged ‘floss’

More free software and open source good news from Europe

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

On the line of my latest post about Linagora, a European data researcher recently published the results of a study concluding in that the European Community is saving 450 billion euros per year thanks to Open Source software.

In the same orientation, the APRIL (French Association for digital freedom) published a study reporting the substantial savings of the French Government thanks to Open Source and Free Software.

These are all good news that have taken too many years and financial crisis to come, but let’s rejoyce in their presence at this point.

Nginx Anti-DOS filter for Fail2Ban

We are currently trying out this Fail2Ban rule on one of our server, to block simple (but very upsetting) DOS attacks on Nginx automatically (after 30 seconds).

New filter in /etc/fail2ban/filter.d/nginx-dos.conf:

# Fail2Ban configuration file
# Generated on Fri Jun 08 12:09:15 EST 2012 by BeezNest
# Author: Yannick Warnier
# $Revision: 1 $

# Option:  failregex
# Notes.:  Regexp to catch a generic call from an IP address.
# Values:  TEXT
failregex = ^<HOST> -.*"(GET|POST).*HTTP.*"$

# Option:  ignoreregex
# Notes.:  regex to ignore. If this regex matches, the line is ignored.
# Values:  TEXT
ignoreregex =

In our jail.local, we have (at the end of the file):

# Based on apache-badbots but a simple IP check (any IP requesting more than
# 240 pages in 60 seconds, or 4p/s average, is suspicious)
# Block for two full days.
# @author Yannick Warnier
enabled = true
port    = http,8090
filter  = nginx-dos
logpath = /var/log/nginx/*-access.log
findtime = 60
bantime  = 172800
maxretry = 240

Of course, in case you would be logging all resources of your site (images, css, js, etc), it would be really easy to get to those numbers as a normal user. To avoid this, use the access_log off directive of Nginx, like so:

 # Serve static files directly
        location ~* \.(png|jpe?g|gif|ico)$ {
                expires 1y;
                access_log off;
                try_files $uri $uri/ @rewrite;
                gzip off;
        location ~* \.(mp3)$ {
                expires 1y;
                access_log off;
                gzip off;
        location ~* \.(css)$ {
                expires 1d;
                access_log off;
        location ~* \.(js)$ {
                expires 1h;
                access_log off;

We’ll see how that works for us… (and report here)

We love open standards, knowledge and sources

Today I just saw one of the most beautiful examples of what our efforts (as a community of free software, standards, formats and knowledge evangelists) are all leading to.

In short, I’m talking about the Wikipedia page in English for the OGG standard, which I’m publishing a capture of below.

“So, what’s so special?” you say…

Well, in short, it’s a free knowledge page about an open standard showing an example of open media designed with free software, which I am viewing using exclusively free/libre open-source software. The little rabbit picture on the right side is actually a video… playing at the time of the screenshot. Contrarily to Flash (using 45%), it just uses about 1% of my CPU power to play it in streaming.

Yes, the page is giving me free knowledge I can contribute to, redistribute and use freely. It discusses OGG, an open format to encode videos. It shows me the short film “Big Buck Bunny” which has been designed by the Blender foundation using and composing free media (can re-use, distribute, modify). I’m opening the page using Firefox on my Ubuntu GNU/Linux system, running a native video player (I’m not even sure which but I’m sure it’s not the proprietary software Adobe Flash Player), into my webpage itself.

This all means we have finally reached a step where information *can* flow freely, in any form of media. I’m definitely in love with all that.

Top projects of January 2010

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

This year has taken a good start for us at BeezNest worldwide, and between writing around 3 times more offers than usually and launching new projects, we have been busy on a series of important missions that I’d like to take the opportunity to mention.

Gallery 2 and slow disk accesses

First of all, we’ve been busy trying to debunk a really well hidden flaw in an install of Gallery 2, whereby the “Comments” feature was so quickly getting spammed that the server could just not handle the number of requests sent by the application and a lot of other applications were slowing down.

Trees management

Second, we’ve been working a lot (in terms of development) on a system to manage… trees! What? Yes, trees (and green areas as well). You know, trees are like medical patients after all. Although they tend to fall less ill, there tends to be a whole lot of trees in our cities. Well, we’ve got one great system to do that, that we are working on with one of our partners. Thanks to the system, you can easily plan lifespans of the trees in a city or a larger entity, pinpoint them on a map, and make sure their illnesses and history is stored on something else than an easily lost/stolen/burnt piece of paper. Of course, you can assign tasks, classify trees by street or park, take photos, specify their height, level of danger, or protection put in place. It’s even compatible with Oracle Locator databases! Contact us if you’re looking for something like that.

Chamilo, a fresh e-learning project with experience

Ah well, we’ve decided to drop our support of the Dokeos platform and went on to create a fork, called Chamilo, which will defend a more open approach to e-learning platform development. At first, we thought we would need like half a year to get up and running with the project, but we’ve pretty much been overwhelmed by the overall surge of activity and the massive support and active contributions we’ve already received, while we haven’t setup the bank account for the association defending the project just yet. A great, positive sign for the first month of the project.

Flash stuff

We’ve also been working on a clothing application for a company selling custom t-shirts, whereby the visitor can try its own logos on the shirt he likes most. It was still not ready at the end of January, but we hope you’ll see it soon.

New support lines

We’ve started developing Spanish-based phone support services because a lot of our customers were asking for just that: a way to understand their problems fast and find a way to avoid them. Of course, we’ve also got a whole lot of development-type support coming out of that, but we’re just starting the first line support and it’s taking a good shape. If you are in need if this type of service, just call +51 1 719 51 92 and we’ll quickly deal the contract details with you before you can get access to our support.

Preparing international events

We’re going to be involved in two massive events this year: Expoelearning Lima, a huge e-learning event that will attract a hundred of e-learning companies from around Latinamerica; and the Software Freedom Day, also in Lima, to which we are planning to give a special taste of open knowledge by inviting a hugely famous (still secret) guest of the open knowledge area. We’ve also been dealing with all the graphical design aspect of these events, and our designer has been even more active during the end of January, but we’ll discuss this at the end of February.

Automated tests coverage

A considerable effort has been put into automating tests for Chamilo through SimpleTest, Phing and Xinc. We hope we’ll be able to show you the results very soon.

625 days uptime

We’re always informing our customers that a Linux server that we take time to configure can cut down on future management expenses considerably. One of our customers has just had one of its servers reach 620 days uptime at the end of January. This means the server has been working for almost 2 years (we’ll reach that point in a few months time) without reboot of any kind. This server is used as a web server and has only required a few updates during the last 2 years. This effectively means that this in-house server maintenance costs were brought down to a minimum, while continuing to server its visitors reliably.

Contributing to FLOSS

As usual, the Peruvian offices (Lima, Miraflores) has been hosting meetings from the Python Perú and Drupal Perú groups, and will be hosting additional PHP and Chamilo meetings in March. Of course, we’ve continued working on key open-source projects like Chamilo and OpenC2C

Categories: English, News Tags: , , , , ,

Building a free open-source development business is not easy

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Note: I’m talking about free, public, open-source software here, not that hacked open-source stuff that you just provide to your customers.

Mostly, the difficulty of managing an open-source business is that there are even less good management people that know what free open-source software is than there are good management people at all. And then when an open-source business in launched, it’s most probably because the initial entrepreneur knew what open-source software was and thought he had a good idea on how to make business with it. Sadly, the combination of technical, legal and management skills necessary to do that well are extremely rare.

And let’s imagine you would have that… you then realize that software development (in any form) is one of the most costly services there is. I mean… non-open-source businesses can get away with selling their software several times and generating money from multiple sales, that will end up covering the initial, huge, development costs. But in a truly open-source fashion, you shouldn’t sell any of the software you develop. You should just sell the development service (and other services around it). And then you fall into yet another problem: the development staff of an open-source development company is actually the less profitable staff. Trainers’ services can be sold on the basis of the software, but then their efforts have to be directed towards the development team. Salespeople can made tremendous benefits on the sale of services, but then a service is actually something quite difficult to get a fixed agreement on, so sometimes the services (in particular the development services) take more time than initially planned. Times = money. You crunch on the profit the salesman did. Then what’s left should be directly invested into R&D to follow producing competitive software, because otherwise you’ll just have to wait until someone develops the next cool thing your customers will want.

And just in case you would hope something like that, your development team will probably be very motivated by the opportunity to contribute to open-source software, but don’t expect them to work a minute of their time for free to help a community member. That’s not what they signed for…

So what? You probably benefit from tools that have been open-sourced and that you would have had to develop otherwise… True, but that doesn’t represent nearly a tenth of what this project is actually costing to you and the customer, and even when it would, you would have to keep a constant eye on new open-source solutions (technology watch). And who will do that if your developers are already busy respecting that deadline the client asked for and for which he would probably have looked for someone else if you didn’t accept it?

Well, believe it or not, we are managing it. In 2009, about 75% of our developments were open-sourced, but we still *had to* do a 25% part as closed source (at least temporarily), and we have a very, very tight budget. So I’m wondering… is it really a good idea to do business this way? Shouldn’t we just open a non-profit association to do that instead of getting killed by the amounts of work weighing down on us to get the budget, the time and release as open-source?

These days, I’m trying to hack the model a little bit. I will not fall into the trap of either developing everything closed-source and then supposedly “release it next year”. That is just an excuse for never doing it. There will never be an advantage, for a single business, in doing the additional work of releasing a one-year-old piece of software. It will be too old already. This will imply remastering it, which implies a considerable budget, which implies having sold a lot of this product. But how do you sell a lot if people know you’ll make it public later? Doomed.

So there are a few possibilities here:

  1. find the killing combination of software + services and sell services at a price considerably higher than what it costs, in order to finance your development services with the profits
  2. improve sales by focusing on content creation and training, and consider the development as a hidden cost
  3. develop a system based on the software as a service model, where people do not have a practical way of using your (free) software without going through you, but that just doesn’t make much sense if you really embrace the open-source philosophy
  4. using people’s creativity: put a system in place that will allow you to get a small fee on the sale of one person’s creation to another person…

I’ll be trying 1, 2 and 4 this year and see what that leads to.

Be an open-source start-up

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

To be a startup, a company has to be a product business, not a service business. By which I mean not that it has to make something physical, but that it has to have one thing it sells to many people, rather than doing custom work for individual clients. Custom work doesn’t scale. To be a startup you need to be the band that sells a million copies of a song, not the band that makes money by playing at individual weddings and bar mitzvahs.

This is a quote from

Well… it certainly seems that funding is not considering with a nice eye the open-source start-ups :-D

What about Twitter, Facebook and Google? Their *initial* success was not based on selling (or at least not in the common sense of earning money). However, they are all considered as having been successful start-ups, or aren’t they?

Categories: English, General Tags: ,

Software Freedom Day Perú 2009 en Lima

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Estaremos muy presentes en el Software Freedom Day Perú 2009, con charlas sobre Akelos, OpenERP, Dokeos y PHP, pero también con un stand de juegos de software libre!!!

Si quieres encontrarte con nosotros o ver un poco que se puede hacer con software libre, registrate defrente en!


Categories: eventos, php, Spanish Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: