I could only make the Sunday because I had to work on a lousy upgrade to an HP-UX ftp server at work and that sucked all the more when I had such a great time at LRL on the Sunday that my Saturday seemed even more of a wash out.
The event was really well organised with a main stage with big screen and AV set-up and two smaller rooms for “lightning” talks plus space for exhibitors and BOF points. BOF stands for Birds of a Feather in case you didn’t know. (Well I didn’t). It’s a chance for people to get together and swap ideas about a topic they are all interested in. I didn’t manage to get to any of the BOFs as I was lured to talks on a variety of topics:-
This was a talk by Paul Leach about the cartoon strip he and his friends produce about the FLOSS community and in particular Eric Raymond (esr) Richard Stallman (rms) and Linus Torvalds. As should be hoped of a talk about a comic strip it was funny and Paul had a nice laid back style. He explained about the reasons behind the comic being partly to poke a little fun at the luminaries of our community and highlight the fact that they may have great ideas about FLOSS but they can be a bit weird about other things.
As well as talking about the editorial process of putting together the strip (including the fact it has pseudo-open source scripts via a wiki) Paul also explained the open source tools he uses to pull it together.
An entertaining talk on an unusual topic. From the couple of strips Paul showed although funny they did seem to rely on having a handle on who esr and rms are and what they are like and a few in jokes about other FLOSS personalities but I’m definitely going to start reading Everyone Loves Eric Raymond.
Linux & Laptops
This talk was given by one of the main hackers on Laptops for Linux , Matthew Garrett. Claiming to be suffering from a hangover he gave an entertaining insight into the challenges faced in making Linux run on a whole host of different laptops.
He made an interesting point about people buying “no brand” laptops that have a weird bunch of components in them and then wondering why suspend and resume, for example, doesn’t work.
To paraphrase him, would you buy a car from the “Acme Go Faster Car Co.” that produced the Fleetx Tango 7 roadster with LTX Engine Technology? No because you’ve never heard of it and even if it is cheap you’d never trust it to run well. Yet for the sake of “a couple of hundred” pounds this is exactly what people did with buying laptops. (Though he did point out £200 is a lot of beer).
The other main point he made: “Don’t buy Acer”.
N Big Challenges
This was an hour on the main stage with Mark Shuttleworth, of Canonical/(K)ubuntu fame talking about what he sees as the main challenges facing Linux especially in the desktop arena. As it turns out N=13. In a wide ranging talk he spoke about the fact that “Pretty is a feature” meaning Eye candy is more than just eye candy it’s part of the functionality of a product and without it people will be put off.
He also spoke about better tools for collaboration and coping with pervasive presence where computers are everywhere and they are all connected all the time.The number one challenge he felt was “keeping it free”.
As Linux becomes more ubiquitous and more people get involved with it the more risk there is people will just want “stuff that works” and the temptation will be to forget the free aspect as in freedom.
First time I have seem Mark Shuttleworth in action. He’s an accomplished speaker and he knows his audience. He also has the means to influence the direction of Linux on the desktop.
That took care of the morning sessions. I sloped off to Costa for a coffee and a bite to eat before coming back to such highlights of “The Hour of Power” and for me the most fascinating presentation “Women in Open Source”, but that’s for part II