OSOR – Open Source Repository and Observatory

libre software, mswl, mswl-cases, mswl-comm, mswl-intro

Hi mates!!!

Continuing the set of talks about my course in Case Studies, today I’m going to write about a talk driven by Roberto Andradas regarding OSOR (Open Source Repository and Observatory).

Roberto Andradas is a system administrator who works for the Libre Software researching group in my university called (as you should know 😉 ) Libresoft.

Roberto was involved in the creation and implementation of OSOR since the beginning and he tell in this talk all about it.

So here we go!!

In 2008 Roberto was involved in OSOR as system administrator.

The main purpose of this project was to help to public European administrations, being used as global repository and creates, in general, an open source infrastructure for the public administrations.

So, OSOR is:

  • Open Source Observatory and Repository.
  • Set up as an IDABC initiative.
  • European platform for the exchange of:
    • Libre software.
    • Good practices in Open Source.
    • Information and News.
    • Aimed at public administrations.

OSOR was live until 30th December 2011, now is integrated inside a new big project, Joinup.

OSOR was integrating software, never build something since zero, was integrating and using other FLOSS projects to build its infrastructure.

All the code generated in OSOR also was released to the community to enrich this one.

In OSOR was involved different people with different profiles, not just system administrators or developers, also project managers, and other staff from the more administrative part of the business and managing.

OSOR commission chosen the Bee as the project “pet” because bees working always together, in a team.

OSOR was designed for non-technical users, because this project is oriented for non technical people and would be stupid if this project just could be used by technical users.

One of the most important parts of OSOR was the repository, it used a source forge called GForge (changed later to Fusion Forge, and is the same that SourceForge is based).

Roberto remember how OSOR had also problems regarding the design and how they have hard moments during the development.

OSOR was a big project with:

  • More than 250 projects spread across Europe.
  • European countries involved.
  • Developers along the whole world.
  • 2500 federated and FLOSS projects.
  • More than 400.000 downloads.
  • Dozens of case studies, hundred of new items, events and guidelines.

It was a lot of work regarding the integration using different projects, all this code was published in the OSOR repository.

OSOR had a news system:

  • FLOSS news are welcome
  • User participation is critical.
  • Journalist specialized in free software, OSOR had a specialized journalist hired by the European commission for this purpose.
  • The European commission changed the journalist for a journalists team, but they weren’t specialized in FLOSS so the first and specialized journalist was hired again.

OSOR had place also to announce different related FLOSS and OSOR events.

  • FLOSS events everywhere.
  • Events need support.
  • OSOR helps to announce events.

The combination between News and Events was an absolutely “win” since they have events to explain OSOR, and the connection between news and events was really important and good to spread the word (FLOSS and OSOR word).


  • OSOR supports successful cases even afterward.
  • Provides “how-to”s and common errors to future new FLOSS based public administrations.

OSOR didn’t have not too much support for communities, and maybe it was a hole in the system, where the community support is really important, so the European commission created these features to support communities:

  • Developed to provide a place where users can exchange knowledge.
  • Associated to one or more projects.
  • Forums to keep discussions on several specific topics.
  • Blogs to public posts and comments about the community.

This features compared with the community tools that other more important as Gnome or KDE have, are very small and they couldn’t compete with them.

In the project registration process it was the commission who evaluated the project.

Roberto tells when the person en-charged to search for new projects and to involve new people in the project abandoned the project, OSOR was little by little decreased.

When the users wanted to chose the FLOSS license the user could just to use a set of license in the list, but enough.

More of the 50% of the registered projects in OSOR used EUPL.

They used as web server Apache because it was the one which previously the sys admins have been working with.

Sometimes the commission arrived with suggestions about software to use, but sometimes these ones weren’t FLOSS (like Adobe Flash).

The strong point of OSOR in comparison another webforges like GitHub, BerliOS, etc. was OSOR was designed and oriented to public administrations, with guides, procedures, etc.

OSOR CPD was located in Madrid (in Las Tablas).

Unisys was the coordinator of the consortium, GOPA, URJC and Gijs.

Ismael Olea was the person (I’ve talked about him before) in charge of spread the word about OSOR.

In the OSOR infrastructure also participated the virtualization.

The operating system used in OSOR was Debian GNU/Linux Etch (i386), never was upgraded but was updated with different security patches.

They used a single-sign-on system to authenticate the same person in different machines.

They used two machines for storage, as a mirror for security with iSCSI interface.

The file system used was NFS.

They also used a software to provide high availability.

In backup they used Bacula. For monitoring the used Zabbix and gammu.

In security they used OpenSSH and OpenVPN in the virtual private network.

They used Plone to give services to users (CMS).

As Roberto says a lot of times, they modified code to adjust to their system, as he says, they learned a lot and maybe the nicest part of his work in this project or the one with he enjoyed more was working and modifying code.

As SCM they started with CVS but they changed soon to SVN.

They used mailman as a mail lists.

With this software they also used:

  • Postfix
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Varnish cache
  • Apache
  • CVSAnaly

An interesting question about how they did the load balance Roberto says they used the DNS service to use one machine or the other in case of malfunction of a machine.


As a personal conclusion after being watching this talk, I can say OSOR is a big project real interesting and with people really valuable involved, but I have a think regarding this kind of projects invested by public administrations, and is why? I mean, is it really important to create a project like this when we can find a lot of projects really similar? why to spend the money of all citizen in creating projects which have been created more or less focused in the same by others? Why the public administrations following spending they money of all in create same projects again and again?
This case remember me the case in my country (Spain) regarding the GNU/Linux distributions per different states in Spain, for instance, Extremadura has its own distribution, Andalucia too, Madrid, etc. why the public administration spend a lot of money doing this?? Remember, public administration pays to get these distributions there are not free (the software it is).

So apart of the really interesting project, finally my conclusion is this, why spend the money of all creating the same once and again and again, etc.

Anyway, really interesting and nice presentation by Roberto which you can find here, and the slides here.

See you my friends!!


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