IETF 94 Hackathon: Open Source and Open Standards

By: Charles Eckel

Date: April 17, 2016

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Originally posted by Charles Eckel in the DevNet Open Source Community on 12 November 2015.

Yokohama, japan, was the host city for IETF 94. The IETF Hackathon, sponsored by Cisco DevNet, got things started the weekend prior: 31 October–1 November. The Hackathon was the third in a continuing series designed to advance the pace and relevance of IETF standards activities by bringing the speed and collaborative spirit of open source software into the IETF.

More than 70 developers came together to test experimental protocols, produce reference implementations, create useful utilities, and so forth. Many participants were long-time IETF contributors; there also were several first-time attendees and young developers with new ideas, including our youngest coder at 16 years of age.

Participants formed into roughly a dozen teams working across a wide range of technologies. These included many IETF working groups (e.g., dane, dhc, dnsop, dprive, homenet, i2rs, iptube, netconf, netvc, and sfc) and corresponding open source projects (e.g., Dalla, getdns, Kea, OpenDaylight, OPNFV, RIOT, and Thor). Each team produced significant results, including the DNS privacy and security team that extended and demonstrated use of getdns APIs to eliminate metadata leakage; and the Homenet team, which prototyped and demonstrated a provider-aware selection of IPv6 prefixes for home routers, PCs, and mobile devices.

How an IETF Hackathon Works

The Hackathon started Saturday at 09:00. Technology “champions” introduced each technology and proposed projects. Next, champions and participants formed teams and started hacking. Several teams included members from more than one IETF working group and/or open source community. The ensuing collaboration, mix of cultures and ideas, and new friend-ships all point to the long-term benefits that extend beyond the Hackathon itself. 

Motivated, caffeinated, and energized, participants worked tirelessly, advancing the standards that provide the Internet’s foundation and creating open source implementations that validate these standards and make them easier for others to consume. Not everything worked according to design and there were frustrating moments, but course correction and eventual success ruled the day.

Sunday afternoon, each team shared accomplishments and lessons learned with peers and a panel of esteemed judges: Jari Arkko (IETF chair), Ray Pelletier (IETF administrative director), and Adam Roach (NETVC chair). The judges recognized teams based on various criteria established for the Hackathon:

  • Advance pace and relevance of IETF standards
  • Bring speed and collaborative spirit of open source software into the IETF
  • Expand upon ideas, feed into Working Group sessions
  • Produce sample code/reference implementations
  • Create useful utilities
  • Attract developers, young people to IETF

There were techie prizes compliments of Cisco DevNet and tickets to the IETF social event donated by WIDE, but the real winner was the IETF community. The hackers’ efforts were shared in corresponding working group meetings the following week and a number of teams demonstrated their work at Bits-N-Bites on Thursday night.

A complete list of this and archived Hackathon technologies and projects are available on the event Wiki (, which is accessed from the main Hackathon page ( The IETF and open source communities are encouraged to bookmark and reference these sites to help with their ongoing work.

Next Steps

For the first time ever, the IETF is going to South America! IETF 95 will be held in Buenos Aires, and the Hackathon will kick things off the weekend prior: 2–3 April. Mark your calendars and join us as we accelerate the pace and relevance of the IETF’s tireless work of extending and improving the Internet we all know, love, and use every day.

Stay informed

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