Please allow me to hate myself thoroughly for not owning a camera. The pictures I could and should have taken would have blown your mind.
The people at Linux.conf.au were a fascinating mix. Broadly, you had people who were there from three groups.
- Recruiters, public servants etc.
- Grizzled IT veterans
- Enthusiastic youngsters.
It was a pretty mulicultural crowd but interestingly amongst those of east-asian extraction the gender mix was about 50-50. While for the rest I’d say the women were down around 10% of the group.
And the laptops all over the place with dazzling varieties of software and configurations. I could have spent hours just peering over people’s shoulders.
I suspect the conference took part as much in IRC channels over the wireless network as it did in terms of people actually speaking to each other.
The Saturday keynote by General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation, Eben Moglen, was far more stirring stuff than you’d expect from a discussion of legal issues around software licences.
Twice the audience came to their feet to give him a standing ovation as he hammered through to the audience that they weren’t just nerds writing software, they were (albeit inadvertently) the successors of the battle for freedom and liberty that began in the enlightenment.
The recent BitKeeper row has changed a lot of minds about the FSF’s insistence that software freedom matters and needs attention.
The size of the sea-change is probably best understood when you consider Linus Torvalds, the man whose name makes up the first four letters of the conference’s name, was being openly mocked and disparaged.
Lunch was hilarious, one moment I was holding forth watching Eben Moglen hold court on the concourse, the next people started streaming down towards the refectory, and everyone started following to see where they were going.
Where they were going was the sunshade outside the ANU refectory where 400 pizzas were due to arrive.
Unfortunately despite taking an order for it 2 months ago, Pizza Hut had utterly failed to co-ordinate the necessary resources so the pizzas arrived in dribs and drabs over some time.
A particularly drool worthy moment was an IBM tech opening a shell to a 128 processor G5 [apologies, that should read P5] machine he’d been working on and compiling ten kernels in ten seconds to show off just how powerful the new chips are.
(You have to have stared at a screen in the small hours of the night waiting for a kernel compile to finish to truly appreciate this one).
In any event, everyone I spoke to seemed to have had a really good time.
So well done the Canberra Linux Users Group for putting Canberra in a good light for such an august gathering.