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On the Road with Fedora 4

Winchester, MA  Fedora project manager David Wilcox recently visited Karlsruhe, Germany and Amsterdam, Holland to talk with interested community members about innovations and opportunities around the upcoming public launch of Fedora 4 at several well-attended events.


On September 15 the FIZ Karlsruhe Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure hosted a one-day pre-PASIG Conference workshop, Research Data Management: Organizational, Technical, and Legal Challenges as part of an event series entitled "The Future of Information Infrastructure".

David participated in the “Infrastructure for Data Management” session. His presentation, Managing Research Data with Fedora 4, highlighted how Fedora 4’s flexible data modelling and native support for linked open data provide an ideal framework for managing the myriad file formats and complex relationships of research data objects.


Wilcox’s Sept. 17 session at PASIG was focused around research data management in the “small sciences”. He gave an overview of Fedora 4 for research data that focused on preservation features, performance and scalability. He was joined by Wolfram Horstmann, Göttingen University, who presented “Longtail Data Access/Research Data Alliance (RDA),” and Neil Jeffries, Oxford, who discussed “Research Objects – Workflow4Ever/MyExperiment/Nano-publications”.

There was a strong theme running through the discussion that followed about how to get researchers to use tools and repositories to both provide access to and preserve data. Some participants highlighted the importance of stronger legal mandates to compel researchers to publish research datasets and others advocated for improved repository systems with built-in workflow applications. Both incentives and better systems with workflows that map to research tasks are important to coax research data into access and preservation repositories.

Oracle presentations provided a look at the actual materials of preservation from hard drives to tape technologies. Data preservation planning should include projected hardware requirements, as incremental backups and replication greatly increase the storage space needed. Preservation technologies for managing audio and video content were also reviewed; steadily increasing video resolutions are leading to growing file sizes, which is an important consideration for projecting future storage requirements.


A Fedora User Group Meeting was held on Sept. 19 in Karlsruhe following PASIG for 20 institutional users from Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland.

Wilcox gave a Fedora 4 update that included information on planning for Fedora 3 to Fedora 4 migrations. Most attendees were using Fedora 3 and were very interested in learning more about Fedora 4 features and improvements.

Matthias Razum, Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure, and member of the Fedora Steering Group emphasized that advancement of the Fedora open source repository platform to meet shared goals is directly related to how deeply the community engages by contributing resources and participating.

In Germany scalability is a major concern with repositories housing many millions of objects and RDF triples. Fedora 4 provides support for external file systems and RDF triplestores, mitigating the bottlenecks that were present in previous versions of Fedora.

Several attendees presented on local Fedora 3 implementations with custom front ends. Most attendees were not very familiar with Hydra or Islandora, so the updates from Stanford and Discovery Garden were welcome introductions.


More than 500 data managers from academic data centers, labs and research areas gathered in Amsterdam beginning on September 22 to consider issues and opportunities related to “Research Data Sharing Without Barriers” at the Research Data Alliance Meeting.

There is little crossover between the open repository and research data communities. Practitioners in each field are concerned with practical applied methods, roles and targeted technologies.

Wilcox aimed to begin bridging that gap by offering a Birds of a Feather session entitled, “Repository Platforms for Research Data”. The session was packed with more than 100 attendees. His aim was to start the process of gathering use cases and work toward producing a case statement for a new RDA working group, including deliverables, a work plan, and the initial roster of members. The working group will analyze research data use cases to produce recommendations on functional requirements for repository platforms. About 20-25 attendees expressed interest in working towards this goal.

“There was a lot of knowledge in the room. People had experience with repository platforms and a handful of people were either researchers involved in use cases that relate to gathering technical requirements for storing, managing and preserving data, or had attended the Open Repositories Conference,” explained Wilcox.


The DuraSpace Hot Topics Webinar Series, Early Advantage: Introducing New Fedora 4.0 Repositories, is curated by David Wilcox, and highlights four  institutions that have already adopted Fedora 4.0 Beta and started designing and implementing pilot projects that take advantage of new features. Project leaders will explain why being an early adopter of Fedora 4.0 benefits institutions.

We hope you will join us for this series consisting of two, 1-hour webinars:

• More about Series 9 in the DuraSpace Hot Topics Webinar Series, Early Advantage–Introducing New Fedora 4.0 Repositories