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Two more days of OSGiCon at EclipseCon

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Two more days of OSGiCon at EclipseCon

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Wednesday, the opening keynote, by Sam Ramji from Microsoft, who got the point across quite well that Microsoft is serious about becoming part of the open source community. With a $5M budget, they actively participate in selected projects and encourage you to contact them. They showed a preview of Eclipse with SWT running on WPF, which, although not complete or very fast at this point, did work and showed some of the nice tricks that WPF can do.

Buglabs had a talk about their device, an OSGi based embedded system that can be extended with click-on building blocks such as a camera, a motion sensor, a GPS receiver and a display. They have a hack-a-thon where you can write applications for "the bug" and win one of their devices. The device currently runs on Concierge, an OSGi R3 framework, but we basically already created a proof of concept that shows that they can also run Apache Felix, which supports R4. That was not eligable for entering the contest though, since it's not an application, but we thought it would be nice to provide it to them anyway.

Later in the day, there was a great talk about Virtual OSGi by Jan Rellemeyer, who really shows how small embedded devices can be hooked up in a virtual OSGi environment. Based on earlier work such as R-OSGi and jSLP, Jan always has a lot of good demos that really show off the power of this technology.

We also had a talk with the people from Cloudsmith. They actually created an elegant and simple way to assemble software from OSGi components, create distributions and offer those for download by end users. As a proof of concept, we used it to create a distribution for Apache Felix, which admittedly is a very straightforward usecase. Where Cloudsmith really shines is when assembling complex applications, such as a customized version of Eclipse with all plugins you require installed. There it really helps to create a uniform environment for developers that can be installed quickly. The downside, at the moment at least, is that they do not yet support any update mechanism.

Thursday started with a keynote by Cory Doctorow who emphasized the need to keep pushing for an open internet that encourages cheap collaboration, because basically that is the only model that can be sustained and will arguably help "us" compete in the longer run.

We then proceeded with a panel discussion about services versus extensions in OSGi. My take on this situation is that, although Eclipse decided to use OSGi a while ago, they ran into some use cases they could not solve initially with services and created a whole new model instead: the extension model. Whilst this model definitely has some use cases, it also is not that well integrated into the OSGi life cycle model and there is quite a lot of duplication when you have both extensions and services. Instead, I feel they should really make an effort to extend and optimize the service mechanism. I don't see any fundamental reason why that could not work, and it would avoid code duplication and a lot of "cruft" in the framework.

After that we saw an overview of Equinox, which ended with a nice demo of what the new provisioning system, p2, is capable of. For desktop and server provisioning, that definitely is a big step forward from the current update manager that is integrated into Eclipse.

Next up, a presentation on ECF showed both interesting new ways of collaborating and various different communication and discovery protocols.

The last talk of the conference was about p2, which replaces the update manager in Eclipse and wants to become a more generic OSGi provisioning system. An interesting feature is that it can install bundles into a non-running system. In that sense it's probably not targetting to be an implementation of what OSGi calls a "management agent", but more an application like InstallShield. The presentation contained a lot of demonstrations and was a nice way to end a conference packed with new things.

Summing it up, this was a great conference for OSGi. Where a couple of years ago, almost nobody knew that Eclipse ran on OSGi, it is now one of the central themes. So, almost 10 years after its initial inception, OSGi is becoming mainstream. I guess even the best kept secrets have to come out sometime.

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