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Linux Conference Australia Write-Up 166

I've just recently returned from Linux Conference Australia 2003, held in Perth, Western Australia. I've had an incredible time, and this has easily been the best technical/Linux show I've been to since ALS was still operating. I've got a write-up below, and some notes on what happened, what's the plan for next year (It'll be in Adelaide, and I'm greatly looking forward to it!), and a photo round up. A number of other articles have appeared, and Kate MacKenzie's write up in The Australian was good as well, in addition to Telsa Gwynne's excellent write-up and Linux Magazine Au has some articles as well. Update: 02/04 02:42 GMT by T : ilovestuff points out ZDNet Australia's coverage as well.

I was actually invited to come to present the hacker survey that OSDN had done in conjunction with the Boston Consulting Group. However, upon looking at the conference plans, it was quickly apparent that that would be one of the few non-technical presentations, which was a pleasant change from my normal conference regime, in which the technical stuff seems crammed into one half day. I've heard that OLS is quite similar, but have not had a chance to attend. Nonethless, obviously my work withstanding *grin* the presentations were excellent - read the program to see for yourself.

I was able to attend Tridge's keynote, having only arrived Wednesday morning, a ARQuake presentation done by Wayne Pierkarski (we've mentioned it before). The afternoon was spent at Conrad's presentation on sweep, which is a hella cool audio app. Finally, the Q&A was Rusty, BDale, Tridge and Linus. Some of the typcial questions were asked, but there were some other questions 'round about DRM, IPv6 and some of the more social questions that were interesting. I think the DRM issues is one of the areas that some people are greatly concerned about, while other people have adopted a more Pollyana approach to it.

Unfortunately, on Friday, while I was presenting, there were two other presentations that I wanted to attend, but alas, had to speak myself. Rasmus, as usual, did a number of talks, and I was able to catch part of PHP printing with PDF, which was informative. Alex Reeder, part of VA Linux Japan also did a presentation on his work with bioauthentication, and my final piece of the show was Horms' presentation on Perdition, a mail retrieval proxy he's been working on.

But presentations aside, which were as a rule exceptional, I think one of the best parts was the relaxed feel, and the amount of interchange between just about everybody here. Almost every one that you talked to was fluent in Linux, programming or what not, which made for easy conversation with everyone there. The Perthites who really managed to put this together also did an exceptional job. To be frank, this is the only show I'd ever consider travelling 13,500 miles for.

I'd encourage anyone who attended or was part of it to post below -- and here's to looking forward to next year. One of the most amusing pictures though has to be the Linus in the penguin suit. The hats are off to the organizing team for their hard work -- and the speakers who traveled afar to be part of this. And from the wonderful uses of pizza box - yet more zaniness.

You can also check out some of photo round ups from Leon, Noel, and, of course, Marc Merlin's done a great round-up, as well as group round-up and one final one.

Overall, I highly highly recommend this show -- probably one of the best on the planet -- and for those in know, 23 will fall.

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Linux Conference Australia Write-Up

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  • Excellent Conference (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pyman ( 610707 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @09:05PM (#5219714) Homepage
    I'll definitely be heading to the Adelaide conference next year!

    Rusty's talks were highly amusing, while still containing a technical edge. The dinner on Friday night was brilliant (300 geeks slowly getting smashed!). A T-shirt signed by all the luminaries at the kernel summit was auctioned for $AU 2100. It was quite a contest between Sun and IBM, with Sun representative Duncan Bennet making the winning bid. IIRC Bdale Garbee promised to name the next Debian release after the winning bidder, if the amount went over $AU 2000. So I guess we can all look forward to Debian Solaris!! :-)

    • And I forgot to mention, all proceeds went to the EFA [efa.org.au]. (including the additional $AU 700, 1 condom and associated lubricant garnished by Rusty as he ran around with a big cardboard box!)
    • by hdparm ( 575302 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @09:33PM (#5219883) Homepage
      Heh, can you imagine if Microsoft attended the conference, as they did in New York. Then imagine (taht won't be hard, I guess) Microsoft placing a winning bid ($AU 2200). After that, imagine next Debian Microsoft release.

      Finally, of course, imagine Beowulf Cluster of those! Scary shit, I tell you!

      Seriously though, Debian Bennet or Debian Duncan have much more chance of being announced.

  • I went, and loved it. Best week I've ever spent at a Uni :)
  • by houseofmore ( 313324 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @09:11PM (#5219749) Homepage
    Take the World Cup... and *have* a Linux Conference.

    Ah well, I suppose I can take that while sipping a pint taking in the Americas cup.


    • America's cup, been there, done that... :)

      If you want revenge, there's a) the cricket world cup, and b) beating us on home soil at the rugby world cup, and c) beating us to qualify for the soccer world cup in 2005 or so...

      And, hey, you've got a better basketball team than the USA does, at least according to the last world championship ;)

  • Alex Reeder, part of VA Linux Japan...

    Huh. So Japan still has a VA operation with "Linux" in its name and selling servers [valinux.co.jp]? Am I understanding that correctly?

    It's kind of like those celebrities who do endorsements in Japan but not at home, except sort of the opposite. Looks [valinux.co.jp] like they're using Excel, though.

    • yes, there is still a VA Japan - and yes, they still do Linux. Kernel Consulting work, custom solutions, and they even still sell servers.

  • this has easily been the best technical/Linux show I've been to since ALS was still operating ...
    Nobody panic, ALS Scan [alsscan.com] is still up.
  • I was there :) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @09:54PM (#5219992)

    My first conference, mainly because I'm a Perth native. The atmosphere and level of information presented was excellent, and I'll most probably end up heading to Adelaide next year :)

  • by ilovestuff ( 610697 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @10:32PM (#5220136)
    How about the coverage from ZDNet Australia. http://www.zdnet.com.au/builder/program/unix/story /0,2000034968,20271425,00.htm [zdnet.com.au]
  • by s13sr20det ( 612747 ) on Monday February 03, 2003 @11:01PM (#5220306)
    I was there, the whole thing was impeccably organised and executed. Congrats to the organisers and presenters. For someone who is used to commercial conferences with their "Managing Your Server-side OLTP Business Process Modelling with [Acronym / Buzzword of the Month]" - style marketing presentations, this was a breath of fresh air. The technical knowledge present was immense, every person there was enthusiastic, and I left feeling inspired and motivated. One of the greatest moments for me was watching the reaction of Linus, Tridge and Bdale to one of the "How do you think Linux will bring about World Peace" style questions. Tridge's answer: "Just don't think about it too much." That really illustrated for me the whole mood of the conference - technical people doing what they love doing, with no (or little) politics and no marketing crap. And Rusty - the man is not just a genius. In fact he's definitely not a genius. But he sure can take the piss! ;P
  • did any of the delegates take the opportunity to visit host campus UWA's University Computer Club? I was a member as a fresher back in '96 and although I never actually made it to the club (I was that shy and reclusive back then) I did enjoy very much reading the fresher guide. heh.

    Does the coke machine still run?
    • Yes, they still have the coke machine.
    • Dunno how there doing, I remember being a non-student member ten years ago, coming in and meeting the guy who slept there so he could wake up at 6am and play nethack till 10pm and go back to bed. (That said, four years later I discovered MUDs and had a simmilar spell :)

      I did like those guys :) Plus they turned me onto minix, which eventually turned me onto linux invented by mr Torevalds a year later.

      I remember they also had some bashed up old VAXes, which at the time was reeeeal cool.
  • Now we just have to see if Hobart will get it in 2005 or not! I don't know how likely it is - TasLUG [taslug.org.au] isn't dead, but it's not massively active.

    However we are getting the Annual SAGE-AU [sage-au.org.au] Conference this year (it took us until year number 11!).
  • From an organisers perspective, I think linux.conf.au went off really well.

    The only disappointing thing from my corner of the conference was that I didn't get a chance to see a lot of talks.

    If you're really interested in coming to linux.conf.au next year (there isn't a URL yet afaik), then why not come join us on IRC. The channel for the conference past is #lca2003, and the channel in creation is #linux.conf.au, both of these on freenode (irc.freenode.net).
  • About Linux coverage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @01:53AM (#5220874)
    It's great to see all the Linux coverage, especially from media sources that are general interest in nature rather than exclusively technical.

    However, there is one interesting side effect that Linux advocates should keep a watchful eye for. With the increase in publicity also comes the increas in misinformation. It isn't always intentional (such as FUD from Microsoft that is so often complained about on Slashdot), but it can be annoying (or worde, damaging) nonetheless.

    Take for example, the article from "The Age" [theage.com.au] mentioned above. This is a minor example, but illustrates my point well:

    Rather than copyrighting the Linux code, Torvalds published it on the Internet and invited others to offer improvements.

    Sure, Linus freely distribtued the code to his Linux project on the internet, however the code to Linus REMAINS COPYRIGHTED. This mis-statement was not meant to damage the Linux cause--but it doesn't help the general public understand the concept of "Free" software versus free (as in beer), and that Free Software doesn't mean anti-copyright.

    In fact, copyright is the very thing that keeps the source to Linux truly Free. Without the power of copyright the owners of Free source code would have no way of defending the GPL. Conversely, developers couldn't choose to distribute their works in traditional closed-source fashion. Although copyright law has been perverted and abused in recent years, copyright in its truest sense is a fundamental right in the protection of "free speech" (not only should citizens enjoy reasonalbe protection to express their thoughts as they wish to--be it the spoken or written word, music, film or even computer programming--they should also have some right to control how that expression is used). It's a tough balancing act of course--the DMCA extends much to far into the realm or IP protection, allowing the owner of copyrighted work so much unchecked power that it stifles freedom of expression.

    Such a simple mis-statement and it warrants an entire article on its own. To assist the press in accurate coverage, perhaps the organisers of Linux conferences should put together press kits that place a lot of emphasis on the concept of Free Software and background on Linux that extends beyond pure technical information. Of course one cannot be sure writers would read the material, however ditribution of such information would make it easier to respond to widely published factual errors

    Perhaps some letters to the editor praising the positive coverage, and at the same time correcting misinformation would do a lot of good for the Linux community...
    • copyright in its truest sense is a fundamental right in the protection of "free speech"

      This is false. Copyright is a government granted privilege, not a right, fundamental or otherwise. The government grants a creator a limited time monopoly on created works in exchange for creating the works in the first place. In theory, the works eventually become public domain and benefit everyone (hence "limited time"). Most importantly, copyright has absolutely zero to do with the right to free speech.

      they should also have some right to control how that expression is used

      This is also false. The privilege granted by copyright extends to the copying and distribution of copyrighted works. It makes no restrictions on any other use of those works.

      the DMCA extends much to far into the realm or IP protection

      The DMCA extends copyright into the realm of control of the use of a work, not just the copying and distributing of a work. That (and the loss of fair use rights) is why the DMCA is evil, not because it more effectively controls copying than previous copyright law.

  • Telsa makes a point of mentioning Tim Tams (the Antipodean equivalent of Penguins, but much nicer), which are almost worth going to Australia for alone. (You can get them in NZ too - try the caramel ones.) Also, Cadburys chocolate tastes different, and much better, than the same brand in the UK.

    On the other hand, Wales has Tregroes Waffles [tregroeswaffles.co.uk]...

    (Professor of Chocology)
  • So I cooked up this [freezope.org] logo for my local linux users group, and they nominated me for Sun's regional delegate program. Wow! Being flown across Australia to attend LCA2003, what a blast.

    ...everyone knows linux, conversations start from that point,
    ...Saying hi to 5 people before my first coffee of the day;
    ...the kernel, is it too big? Can these guys pull it off?
    ...Where are the gcc people? Is this the GNU/Linux divide? It seems the kernel is in bed with GCC.
    ...Okay, some things are simpler in 2.5, phew!
    ...Another nametag, another famous person, another nerd, another one i've seen on my favourite mail list.
    ...in a room with 200 others (blechh) going over the SMP scheduler with Rusty... Do these people really know what this is about, or are they just groupies?
    ...Finding Linus and fam at a cafe; like royalty...
    ...So, GUI toolchain hackers get all the babes... i'm workin on it, i am. yes.
    ...Being heard, asking questions, we all geeky here, no need to be shy
    ...Meeting sun guy in toilet, thankyou thankyou, yes send more people next year!

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.