From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Thursday, January 21, 2010

LCA2010: Day 4, Wellington, New Zealand

Back at the conference for Day 4!

The opening keynote by Glynn Moody was entitled Hackers at the End of the World. He started out by noting how amazed he was when researching Rebel Code (Sep 1999 - Sep 2000). He conducted 50+ interviews and was struck by how nice people were. Dan Lyons said much the same thing at his keynote at Canonical's All Hands meeting last year.

Glynn talked about "free and openness" leaking out into areas beyond software. There was actually an open physics project that started 2 weeks before Linus' famous 8/23/91 post. The Open genome project was saved by a lone hacker (Jim Kent) and a cluster of 100 Linux PCs. Open Science, open access to results, data... In many ways, the hacker culture is paving the way for science.

Documentation licensing has evolved. GPL, FDL, Copyright Commons, GNU GFDL. Wikipedia is probably the easiest way to explain to other people what Free Software is. I think I'm actually going to start using that to explain my job to friends and family. "So, Dustin, what do you do?" "Well, you know how Wikipedia works? Well, I'm a computer programmer that works on software in a similar manner!"

He says that the new millennium is thus far all about sharing. Web pages mostly have visible source code. Flash/Silverlight being the nasty exception. Blogs, delicious, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Myspace. People want to share.

Twitter/ is the "release early, release often" principle, applied to thinking :-)

For 25 years, hackers have been showing others how to create and nurture sustainable commons through openness and sharing. Great talk!

Next, I attended a session on Flapjack Monitoring for the Cloud. It talks Nagios, and uses beanstalkd. The examples were mostly shown on Ubuntu and packaged in Launchpad PPAs. The goal of Flapjack is to be easy to install, configure, maintain, and scale. The project looks interesting, but I really couldn't quite see the application for "the Cloud" yet.

As always, Jeremy Allison's talk was excellent and entertaining. He spoke about Microsoft - The Elephant in the Room. Great talk about Microsoft, and all the dirty things they do to Open Source. He talked about a few famous cases (Samba, OOXML, TomTom). The good news is that we have made Microsoft blink in the staring contest. This is good, but we haven't had a knockout punch yet. Microsoft may be winning in court, but they're rapidly losing the mindshare battle. OOXML showed this in a nutshell -- they pushed the standard through, but everyone lined up against them. Patents are their nuclear option. TomTom was the first time Microsoft really tried this tactic; we all should be very afraid! Jeremy reminds us that IBM was once as feared and hated as Microsoft is today. Elephants can learn new tricks.

Neil Brown gave an interesting presentation on Design Patterns in the Linux Kernel. He gave lots of great examples, grepping through the kernel for some interesting recurring patterns. Jono Lange asked (what I considered to be a really funny) question. Neil had shown a few dozen binary searches in the kernel. Jono says that he's a python developer, rather than a kernel developer, but in Python, he'd just write a binary search function, and use that in all of these places :-) Things are done differently in the Linux kernel.

Finally, I attended Launchpad Code Reviews by Tim Penhey. He started out by referencing the very funny website, The talk was an excellent tour of Launchpad's merge proposal and code review features.

After the conference we had a couple of beers on the waterfront at Mac's Brewery, and then headed over to the Professional Networking event held at the Opera House.

Today is the final day of the photo competition. These entries focus on the Lambton quadrant.


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