A little history of /tmp/lab

From Tmplab
Revision as of 22:17, 16 December 2008 by Phil (talk | contribs) (Genesis: fixed up some language - mitch)


/tmp/lab started when several french people (Jeremie, Florian, Philippe, Benjamin, Xavier, Xeu, ...) met at Chaos Communication Camp 2007. Everyone agreed that Paris was really lacking a Hacker Space. We decided to create something when we got back to Paris, and we called it "lelab" hence "lelab.fr".

The idea was to rent something by sharing costs amongst all the Hacker Space Members.

Rent is hard in Paris, expensive. We got an offer 3 month later from a artist collective to have a artist space outside of Paris in the industrial suburb of Vitry Sur Seine. The building owner temporarily gave us the space for no rent. The temporary nature of this, plus the space's distance from the center of Paris discouraged some people from the original group. Therefore, we named the new space with a different name, /tmp/lab, so that when we'd find a correct spot in Paris, we'd be able to name it "Le Lab".

The little group composed of Xavier, Philippe, Sébastien, Rike, Florian and Nico took possession of the space, and after much cleaning transformed an underground workshop into an industrial-style hacker space in November-December 2007.


However important -even vital- to develop a civil space for technology creation and research, we didn't want the lab to become a new institution. The name /tmp/lab was inspired by the idea of the permatemp, the temporary that stays in place but still, is temporary and nomadic in its concept, as well as the Unix tradition of Open Systems. The goal was to provide an infrastructure first, as the respected "Hackerspace Patterns" presentation details, and let one thousand beautiful projects blossom in this fertile environment: Open Source, hardware, cultural and artistic events, activism, etc. We wanted everyone to see the /tmp/lab and say "Oh.. it's simple, lets build one with my friends in my town."


Just one year after the opening of the /tmp/lab, a diversity of projects is now involved with the space, with many new people joining the group month by month or just naturally connected and cooperated. These projects are listed here in a semi-chronogical order:

  • Boot party! :) and several other social events so far
  • Several presentations to various conference, art students, biennale
  • OpenPattern - Modular FPGA-based project with many /tmp/lab members
  • OLPC France - One Laptop Per Child repair center
  • Experimental biodiesel
  • Dynamips-based SS7 experimentation lab with TSTF
  • Circuit bending workshops
  • OpenWRT routers tinkering and flashing, with two notable members of OpenWRT
  • Consumer B Gone - Cell phone that blocks shopping cart wheels
  • Hacker Space Fest - A conference+workshop+performance 6 day festival
  • Chip imaging
  • /tmp/usine - Reprap project
  • Freedom not Fear + Church of Security demonstration in Paris
  • Annale - "hacking+art" Contemporary Art Biennale with VSS
  • /tmp/van - for mobile operations

We were also really pleased to see two friends open Hacker Spaces in Brussels and in Montreal.


We recently started to get more connections to local associations, NGOs and journalists who support the idea on getting their privacy back. We are also looking more actively for a new space in Paris where it will be possible to develop many more projects.