Friday Jul 27, 2007

OSCON 07, Thursday and Friday.

I'm finally done with OSCON 07 – it was fun while it lasted, but was a little tiring, and I'm looking forward to a weekend of exploring Portland.
Some highlights of the last couple or days are:

-> Impressive demo of the language called processing – see their home page for more information.

-> Steve Yegge from Google talked about why branding was important, and why he believed that “Open Source” wasnt the right brand for open source. He made a lot of other comments during the talk that were equally interesting. Here's how that went - perceptions are, “TurboC is faster than QuickC”, when you hear “GTE”, you think “sucks”, when you hear “Amazon”, you think books, when you hear Java, you think . . . “Enterprise”? Hold on for a moment there. This may be true for some people – I can't speak for others. So many things come to mind when I hear Java – this may be because I'm with Sun, and I have an above average Java exposure – or maybe not. In fact one single thing doesn't come to my mind when I think Java - so the exercise is pointless.

An excellent community panel on what makes open source communities, with Karl Fogel, Brain Behlendorf, and Jimmy Wales, among others. Just in case you had not heard of them, Karl Fogel was the dude that wrote the free CVS book that saved my butt at least a couple of times when I was on the hook to set up a repository. He is passionate about copyright reform these days, and is involved in QuestionCopyright (copyright, and reform is an issue of huge import that everyone should educate himself/herself on)
Brian B is one of the Apache Software Foundation founders.
Jimmy Wales is the guy behind Wikipedia. His noble motive is to “imagine a world in which every person is given free access to the sum of human knowledge.”
Discussed on the panel were questions of how to deal with problem people in the community, how communities recognize someone's contributions, and what the indicators of a healthy community are.
An interesting comment was “ Communities don't scale” ie., there can be too many members in a community. I imagine this refers to the core team(the inner ring of the onion :-), and not it's user base – how can you have too many users?

I attended many deployment architecture talks, all of which were very educative, the most relevant being the Typepad architecture talk – others were S3/37signals, and Youtube and how they scaled – doing justice to these topics would necessitate blog entries by themselves.

Throw in another copyright reform talk by Karl Fogel, a GPL v3 dive-in by the FSF, a hardware hacking session, and an keynote on commoditization, which covered Saas( and for the first time, I heard about HaaS, and Faas, Hosting and Framework is what the H and F mean). This is an easy way to describe hosting services and the application infrastructure hosting companies.

In summary, it was time well spent for me, and I'm looking forward to attending next year . . .
Now, on to my Portland weekend vacation . . . adios.

Thursday Jul 26, 2007

What's hot at OSCON 07?

I attended OSCON for the first time, this year. In spite of being involved in the free and open source communities since a decade, when I first volunteered in the FSF when in grad school – there was a period when I wasn't directly involved . . . so it's fun time now!

The key notes were strongly attended – was able to ballpark about 2250 strong - hackers, system admins, a few managers, publishers(and probably many other functions as well). As Eben Moglen said in a later talk , “We[the free/open source community] have turned a corner – we will never go away now . . . it is now safe to say that . . .”

Tim O'Reilly did the obligatory introduction talk. Some interesting stats: The rails developer team is only 14 persons, Amazon has over 100,000 developers, Flickr has 10 million contributors with over 750 million pictures.

In other key notes, Simon Peyton-Jones(Haskell) gave a pitch for transactional memory, Shuttleworth talked about Ubuntu, launch pad, target markets etc.,

Mention of Sun Microsystems?
The scalability talk on Monday had a lot of mention of Solaris – the binary compatibility was touted by a speaker from Ominiti, Dtrace received it's usual share of the limelight. (A vague mention was made about it not being easy to get patches on OpenSolaris – couldn't follow up on what this meant, but I'll watch out for this speaker in the coming days, and try to follow up.)

Ian Murdock's talk drew in a committed set of Solaris enthusiasts – some project Indiana time lines were disclosed:
-> Indiana will have short release cycles – spaced 6 months.
-> First release Spring 2008
-> Test releases beginning fall 2007!

Main features are easier installation, network based package management, and, zfs is the default file system.

The Open Document Format (ODF) was mentioned many times including the keynote - people were already educated about the OpenJDK piece, going by the questions raised in Mark Reinhold's talk on the topic(this could be attributed to the initial coverage that this announcement got?)

There is a lot more to write about, but I fear I've been quite verbose already, and I have to grab my lunch(which is not a huge attraction here, but a hacker's got to eat sometime) So I'll stop. I'll post more during the conference!

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