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Open Source Summit Japan 2021 Is All Virtual — Enjoy from Wherever You Are!

Last updated on November 23, 2021

Since Open Source Summit Japan will be all virtual again this year, meaning live access anywhere, we’ve made some picks and suggestions, as well as some observations.

booth scene from Open Source Summit Japan 2019
A scene from Open Source Summit Japan 2019, which was the last time the event was in-person. Source: Linux Foundation

When this years Open Source Summit Japan rolls into Tokyo next month they won’t be greeting attendees from within the doors at Toranomon Hills Forum, the event’s usual venue, but will be saying their hellos through side channel chat boxes for viewers at home. For the second year in a row, the conference is leaving the tents folded to go all virtual due to considerations around Covid-19.

Like many Linux Foundation events, the summit in Japan is a two-tent show. Officially, it’s “Open Source Summit Japan + Automotive Linux Summit 2021,” with the former being the big top event and the latter being the sideshow, with a single registration giving admission to both. Tickets for the event, which will run December 14-15, are $50, with Linux Foundation members getting a 20% discount.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin delivering a keynote address at Open Source Summit Japan 2019. Source: Linux Foundation

While going all digital might be disappointing for those who thrive on the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd, it can be advantageous for those on this side of the Pacific who can’t make the trip to Japan, since they can have a front row video seat if there’s a presentation or two they want to see.

The schedule has already been posted (listed in Japan Standard Time — UTC+09:00), and the keynote speakers were announced on Thursday, so everything seems to be etched in virtual stone and ready to go.

Keynotes: Looks Like, Walks Like, Talks Like… Linux Foundation

All eight of the keynote speakers are directly connected with the Linux Foundation. As always, Jim Zemlin, the foundation’s executive director, is included. He’ll be on hand to play emcee and to talk about the latest Linux Foundation initiatives as well as “the state of open source,” which means he’ll probably be citing information from various studies the foundation each year conducts on the subject.

Of particular interest to those interested in open source and free software, might be Brian Behlendorf, who will be speaking as the general manager of the Open Source Security Foundation.

Brian Behlendorf
Brian Behlendorf Source: Linux Foundation

Behlendorf already had a place in open source history long before he became associated with the Linux Foundation, where he started as the executive director of Hyperledger in 2016.

In the 1990s he was a co-founder of The Apache Foundation, and served as the organization’s president for three years. In addition, he spent fours years as a board member at Open Source Initiative (1998-2002) and two-and-a-half years at the World Economic Forum (first as chief technology officer, then as a senior advisor). In addition to his duties at LF, he currently serves on the boards of Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

At Open Source Summit Japan he’ll be discussing current efforts to secure open source software.

Linux users and developers might also want to check out the keynote from Miguel Ojeda, a software engineer and Rust for Linux maintainer, who will be “sharing updates,” presumably on current efforts to incorporate the Rust programming language into parts of the Linux kernel.

Audrey Lee
Audrey Lee Source Linux Foundation

Keynotes will also be given by Josh Aas, executive director of the Internet Security Research Group, who’ll be speaking on Prossimo and Let’s Encrypt; Dan Cauchy, executive director of Automotive Grade Linux, who will talk about the state of open source and automotive; Dr. Ibrahim Haddad, executive director of LF AI + Data Foundation, who will give information about new projects and updates at his foundation; Dr. Audrey Lee, senior director of energy strategy at Microsoft and an LF Energy board member, on how open source can help decarbonize power systems; and Kate Stewart, VP of LF’s Dependable Embedded Systems, who will talk about Software Package Data Exchange (an open standard for software bill of materials) and their underlying SBOMs.

The Main Show

As important as the keynote addresses are at any conference, it’s what follows them that makes or breaks an event. For Open Source Summit Japan 2021, the Linux Foundation has put together a roster of nearly 100 speakers representing tech and open source companies from around the world, but with a focus on Japan and Asia.

While the Asia and Japan focus is primarily intended to meet the interests and needs of the Japanese audience, in a virtual conference that’s available everywhere it’s a benefit for western audiences as well, since it presents an opportunity to hear more directly from tech giants in the region that have a great deal of global influence in the tech sector. While some of these companies often send speakers to US-based conferences, they’re often culled from their North American operations. At this summit they’re likely to report to work much closer to their company’s Asian headquarters where decisions are ultimately made.

Japan- and Asia-based companies that will be represented through speakers and presentations at Open Source Summit Japan include Samsung, Toyota, Fujitsu, Sony, Hitachi, Hyundai, Toshiba, Panasonic, and others.

Alice Ferrazi
Alice Ferrazy Source: Linux Foundation

Technology companies from the west will also be out in force, with speakers from Meta (formally known as Facebook), Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Broadcom, Red Hat, Qualcomm, and others on the schedule.

FOSSers might be particularly interested in a presentation being given by Alice Ferrazzi, a Gentoo developer and project leader who’s currently doing research focusing on the Linux kernel for Cybertrust Japan. She’ll be on hand to talk about MIRACLE LINUX, a Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based commercial distribution that’s widely used in industrial equipment where long-term support is required.

For background, the MIRACLE LINUX distribution was initially started at the turn of the century by Oracle Corporation Japan and Nippon as a commercial distribution optimized for Oracle Database. In 2003 the project became part of the Asianux Project, a joint venture of of the Japanese company Miracle Linux and China-based Red Flag. The distro is now developed and supported by Cybertrust Japan.

North Americans who want to attend Open Source Summit Japan should plan on late hours for a couple of days, or else dust off their TiVos, since Japan is halfway around the world. The conference is scheduled to open each day at 9 am and shut down at about 6:30 pm Japan Standard Time. That translates to 7 pm to 4:30 am for those who are on the US East Coast, or 4:00 pm to 1:30 am for the West Coast.

Well, at least the keynotes will be at a convenient time for everyone over here.

— Update: 11/23/2021

Alice Ferrazzi has contacted FOSS Force and explained that although she and her employer, Cybertrust Japan, are heavily involved in the development of MIRACLE LINUX, she won’t be talking about the Linux distribution at her presentation at Open Source Summit Japan 2021, but will be discussing “Merging an Existing Framework into KernelCI”.

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