Liveblogging from Linuxfest

Linuxfest 2008 web page.

In the first talk the presenter said that he felt the greatest contribution of Linux was that it was the great equalizer and that it was responsible for the generation of skilled IT workers in India, China, and other parts of the world that are emerging as producing a lot of technology and technology workers.

Building Community and Taking Linux to the Masses

Zonker talked about Linux and Community and offered this definition of community, saying that FOSS communities have a lot to learn from communities in general:

“Community is when a group of people come together for common cause, work together, and become something greater than the sum of the individuals.”

He pointed out that community building in FOSS is taking software and not just making it free of cost but letting people drive the creation of the technology.

Despite his employment with Novell, he said that people using Linux, even if it’s not OpenSUSE, is a win for him and he’s happy to point out other FOSS communities that are doing things right.

FOSS communities getting it right: Fedora, Mozilla.

FOSS communities getting it wrong: KDE (releasing beta release as 4.0, dropping support for KDE 3.5), OpenOffice (great product, not growing or good community, lots of head butting with Sun)

Community building

When do you start building a community? As soon as you start a project!  Do you want people to contribute to your code, or are you just pushing it to the world?

OpenSUSE is responsive to calls from Japan for more translations.  He feels like Europe has accepted English as a lingua franca for Linux distros, but Japan hasn’t.  Zonker pointed out that this is totally legitimate and noted the challenges of western Europeans/Americans trying to navigate signs in a non-latin alphabet.  He said signs leading to people being invovled in your community need to be clear to lots of different people.

Community building is in the long term (years ! months).  With FOSS projects it’s important to realize that the projects have to be responsible to the community and not just managers or developers.  From the Ubuntu community manager his job is “Making sure the community is getting screwed by Canonical and making sure that Canonical isn’t getting screwed by the community.”

How do you manage community?  Build up trust so that people (developers) want to contribute.

How do you meet the goals of both the community and managers?  E.g. different milestones for Novell and OpenSUSE community.

A community manager’s job is finding and connecting the body parts, but the community itself provides the spark to bring the project to life.

One of the challenges at Novell was to take people who had worked forever answering to managers and they had to learn how to also be responsive to people who weren’t their managers and didn’t even work for the company.

openSUSE build system allows people to build packages for distros that aren’t just openSUSE.

Cool stuff: Helping Hands sessions to help new users with using openSUSE.

Zonker came to being a community manager from being a technology journalist.  This experience has been helpful because it’s made him a good writer and communicator which is crucial for managing a community.  He misses the objectivity of being a journalist and not being perceived as being connected with a company.

Developing on Mac

Had a really nice slideshow.  Lots of big icons.  As with Zonker, the slides were really sparse with most of the details being filled in with the talk.

Presenter defined the fundamental concept of Unix as:

$ ls | wc

“Little bits of functionality that you can link together in interesting ways”

Quartz composer tool is analogous to the pipe.  Patches link together graphic effects.  All the animations on the Mac are built this way. 

This Japanese artist uses Quartz composer in cool ways to make cool works (and he gives you the source).

This stuff is so cool.  The downside is that you have to be able to afford mac hardware and the OS.  I think the reason that people like Macs so much is because they’re fun to use.  Apparently all 6,7, and 8 graders in Maine get new Mac notebooks.  Kids found a way to cheat on a test, even with iChat disabled by creating ad-hoc wireless networks named things like ‘The answer to question 5 is D’.


There were two talks on virtualization.  The first was on enterprise virtualization and the second was on virtualization security.  Apparently, a lot of the big apps at IU like Oncourse, Onestart, and the IU home page are all running on virtual servers.  They did a cool demo where they moved a virtual machine from on physical host to another with no perceivable downtime.

One big advantage of a virtualization that I didn’t really think about was the fact that, by consolidating VMs on fewer physical machines, all the environmentals like electrical, cooling, cabling, space.