Post written by: Seth Anderson, EaaSI Program Manager
EaaSI Open Source Software Sandbox

We were thrilled to release the EaaSI Open Source Software Sandbox on July 17!. The Sandbox is open to the public and includes sample emulation environments with open source operating systems and applications. We wanted to open up the system to public users so we could get more feedback from a diverse user group, to get some more eyes on the metadata we’re gathering, and to optimize the system for deployment in the cloud.

More than anything we’ve done so far, this was a team effort and everyone’s input resulted in improvements to the system, our configuration and documentation practices, and a highly coordinated communications and outreach strategy.

We’ve currently limited the user capabilities in the Sandbox as we work to improve user permission controls in EaaSI, but plan to continue expanding the capabilities of the sandbox to allow users to create their own open source environments and interact with their own files. There will also be a growing number of open source systems and software applications added to the Sandbox to illustrate the numerous use cases that EaaSI and open source software can support.

Be sure to check it out and tell us what you think!

EaaSI Beta Update

In addition to the Sandbox release, the team at OpenSLX somehow had time to also release an update to our Beta version of EaaSI in early July. The update focused on many improvements to backend components, including security of the system’s REST and SOAP interfaces, as well as overall performance improvements for emulator startup and import. Also included:, new features for sharing and exchange of software installation materials which we will iterate over the coming months as we finetune the functionality and integrate it into the new UI designs.

The release was made easier by the implementation of new update and installation procedures which should relieve OpenSLX from some of their troubleshooting duties. The team in Freiburg has done incredible work keeping up with our active Tech Talk message board, where the EaaSI node’s sys admins post questions, bug reports, and updates on their experience implementing the software.

For full details of the Beta update, see the Release Notes here.

Front End Design

The overhaul of the EaaSI front end is looming and the effort to re-design the UI has been a focus these last few couple months.

Casey at Portal Media has created many wireframes and design elements for the team to consider and the results are thrilling. Reviewing the wireframes has required the project team to assess our assumptions about how the system is used and how our current procedures could fit into the updated front end.

Draft of an emulation builder interface. Work in progress - the final interface design may change.

The developers at Portal Media have also been preparing infrastructure for development, which should be starting shortly, including deployment of our metadata model in a database. We will have much to report in the coming months and can’t wait to share the results!

Everything Else

It would take pages to cover absolutely everything else we’ve been up to, so here’s a quick rundown of the remaining highlights:

  • Our conference schedule has continued apace as I attended the 2019 Open Repositories conference in Hamburg to present on the project’s many outreach and feedback mechanisms. Semantic Architect Kat Thornton was also abroad at the European Semantic Web Conference 2019 in Portorož, Slovenia to present her paper “Using Shape Expressions (ShEx) to Share RDF Data Models and to Guide Curation with Rigorous Validation.”

  • Executive Director of Educopia, Katherine Skinner, has been aiding us with sustainability planning for the EaaSI service through the distribution of and distributed a market analysis survey to many stakeholders in the software preservation community and beyond. We’ve started analysis on the initial responses and will continue to gather data through interviews and additional outreach.

  • You may have seen our announcements and reminders about our upcoming workshop and webinars, all thanks to the hard work of our Communications and Outreach Lead Jessica Meyerson. Our first episode of the webinar included an overview of the EaaSI system infrastructure and a discussion with representatives from EaaSI nodes about why they’re interested in using emulation. If you haven’t registered for the webinar, follow the link and do it now!