Well just under a year ago I wrote my first blog post which was a review of LRL 2006, how time time flies.
A quick word about the venue. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Lighthouse Media Centre and I really like it. The central glass roofed atrium had a great light and airy feel to it helped by the unseasonably good weather: clear skies and sunshine.
The main stage is in fact the cinema so there are plenty of seats and they are nice and comfy. As you would hope the Audio/Visual set up was first class.
The whole effect was to make it feel like a real homely community event without any soulless institutional feel you can get from some places but still providing a high quality experience.
Ted Haeger gave a talk about the new start up company he has joined, Bungee Labs, which aims to provide a software as a service offering for developers. The basic concept is a browser based development environment that offers a full set of developer services from IDE to source control and deployment with tools to help you link to in easily to other WSDL based services such as those offered by Google Maps and Flickr.
The concept is that development is free and then you pay on an as used basis for your final deployment of production software. It’s an ambitious project and the company is pretty much betting the farm on the fact that software as a service is the way of the future and for small developers this will be the way to go.
Ted was as entertaining and as American as ever.
The title of Alan‘s talk was “but I don’t write code” and looked at the different ways people can contribute to open source software even though they are not developers. It drew comparison with the functions that proprietary software houses have and how open source pretty much needs most of them as well.
The big four were probably testing, translation, marketing and documentation.
Of these, documentation seems to be something of an intractable problem but then this is true of the proprietary world and something the IT industry as a whole has been struggling with for as long as I have been involved in it (some 20 years now).
To draw an analogy with addictive behaviours I’d say we are past the denial stage and at least at admit that documentation is a problem. Mind you I did nearly buy a mug at one of the exhibitor stands that said “Document my code? There’s a reason they call it code”.
After lunch I was keen to hear Matthew speak about the latest position of laptop support on Linux but I almost didn’t recognize the clean cut, bright eyed individual standing at the lectern. Last year his talk was the first slot on the Sunday and he admitted to being very hung over.
Matthew looked at the reasons why people have laptops and what that means they want from an operating system. This comes down to portability (and hence battery life), external monitors (for presentations or when in use at the office or home) and connectivity (which means wireless).
Matthew spoke at some length about the different areas that can affect power consumption and how some things are more effective than others. For example halving the speed of a CPU halves the power usage but halving the voltage quarters the power usage.
It comes down to how many Watts of power your laptop uses especially when it is theoretically idle and tools like Powertop seem to be going a long way to helping people find out that their applications or drivers are a lot more insistent that the CPU wake up than they need to be.
The problems with the use of external monitors, suspend resume and wireless use ultimately come down the fact that hardware manufacturers are not as forthcoming with assistance for Linux kernel hackers as they would like but Matthew seem to think things were getting better.
The use of standards like the d80211 stack for wifi will mean in the long run things will improve by leaps and bounds though it may be a couple of steps back first as existing support re-written (and broken) to fit the standards.
In summary to paraphrase (and Bowdlerise) Matthew “Linux on laptops is a bit crap but it’s less crap than it was 18 months ago”
Still to come on day one are “The Mass Debate” and “Chris Dibona” of Google but it’s past my bedtime and I need to check a few details and get people’s names before I post so watch this space.