Going Mainstream: A Recap of the IETF 93 Hackathon

By: Charles Eckel

Date: November 1, 2015

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IETF 93 in Prague kicked off with a Hackathon the weekend of 18-19 July. Following the success of thefirst IETF Hackathon at IETF 92, Cisco DevNet and the IETF teamed up again to host it.

More than 135 participants formed into 18 teams and worked across 15 different technologies. Among the participants were many first time IETFers from various open source communities and universities. This was great to see, given the stated goals of the Hackathon to bring running code back into the IETF, bridge the gap between open source and open standards, and introduce more developers and young people to the IETF. It was a huge success by these and other measures, and established the Hackathon as a valuable and vibrant addition to the IETF community going forward.

The Hackathon featured technology relevant to many IETF working groups (e.g., 6tisch, ace, bier, dane, homenet, httpbis, mptcp, netvc, netconf, sfc, and sidr) and corresponding open source projects (e.g., Dalla, Kea, OpenDaylight, OpenDNSSEC, OPNFV, Quagga, RIOT, and SPUDlib).

How Does It Work?

The event began at 09:00 with technology champions introducing each technology and proposing sample projects. Next, champions and participants self-organized into teams, including some with participants from multiple IETF Working Groups and open source communities. This mix of people, ideas, and cultures gave rise to some of the most interesting projects and highlights the opportunity for long-term benefits that extend well beyond those achieved over the weekend.

The energy in the room was contagious. Motivated by altruistic aspirations, participants worked cooperatively and diligently to develop the standards that provide the Internet’s foundation, as well as the open source implementations that validate these standards and make them easier for others to use.

Those who didn’t have other IETF activities stayed for dinner, and many worked late into the night—well beyond the advertised closing time of 21:00. But this is not to say that the day was void of fun. There was, of course, plenty of that.

There was no loss of enthusiasm the next morning; many people arrived before the advertised start time of 09:00. A few new faces arrived; they were welcomed and either plugged into existing teams or formed new teams.

The Presentations

By midafternoon Sunday, the teams presented their accomplishments to the judges: Jari Arkko, IETF chair; Ray Pelletier, IETF administrative director; Rick Tywoniak, director of Cisco DevNet; and Martin Thomson, IETF draft author and tireless contributor. The judges were left with an unenviable task given the vast array of projects, including tests, experiments, implementations of protocols, and new services. At stake were bragging rights and first dibs on tech goodies, such as Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, and IoT accessories, and tickets donated by Brocade to the IETF’s social event.

Among the winners were three projects that the judges awarded “Best of Show”:

ACE – Key Technology Award

DNSSEC – Broadest Coverage Award

HOMENET – Best WiFi Router Feature Award and the Cool Kids Award


The awards ceremony concluded the Hackathon, but the payoff for all the great work was yet to come. Hackathon projects were shared more broadly with the IETF community at an extremely well-attendedBits-N-Bites session.

Results and insights from the projects were fed into Working Group sessions held throughout the week. One of the best examples was from the NETVC Working Group meeting. According to Nathan Egge of Mozilla, “Over the course of two days a team of 11 participants (both local and remote) hacked on theThor and Daala codebases, open source video codecs that have been contributed by Cisco and Mozilla respectively to the NETVC Working Group. The results of the Hackathon included adding support for Thor to the testing framework, running four experiments using Thor’s motion compensation within Daala, and fixing a long-standing issue in Daala by adding the CLP post-processing filter from Thor. Cisco committed changes to Daala and Mozilla committed changes to Thor, which shows the collaborative spirit of the IETF. Having a Hackathon is an excellent way for new ideas to be tested out in running code, and NETVC will be back for the IETF 94 Hackathon in Yokohama.”

The complete set of technologies and projects, as well as photos and a video summary are available via the event Wiki at

From the main Hackathon page ( it is easy to navigate to information about all of the IETF Hackathons. The IETF and open source communities are encouraged to reference these sites to help with their ongoing work.

What’s Next?

The IETF has already announced a Hackathon at IETF 94 in Yokohama, and Cisco DevNet is on board to sponsor it again. In addition, the Hackathon is now a regular part of IETF meetings. Sponsorship opportunities exist for anyone wanting to show their support for this important effort. Contact Ray Pelletierfor details.

Stay Informed

To stay informed about past and future IETF Hackathons, subscribe to [email protected].