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Notes from the 4th Annual Linux Expo
from TBTF for 1998-02-23

David Sklar <sklar at student dot net> attended the fourth annual Linux Expo in North Carolina and sent these dispatches from that front. I've edited them only lightly.


So we get to our hotel last night and pass the bar, where there are about 30 geeky-looking folks hanging out. Drop stuff off in room, and on the way back to the bar, we pass Linus + wife, two kids in tow, heading up to his room. At the bar, various luminaries (Alan Cox, Eric Raymond, Darryl Strauss, Jamie Zawinski, etc.) and enthusiasts are hanging around and talking tech. When I went up to bed at 1:45, there were still about 20 people going at it.

Lots and lots of people here today. Average age surprisingly higher than I though it would be -- I thought it would be like 21, but there are lots of grownups with Full Time Jobs Using Linux, which is encouraging.

Notable quotes from talks:

David S. Miller talking about porting to MIPS and Ultra -- in discussing his method for speeding up some excruciatingly technical and intricate part of cache handling in UltraLinux, he described one particular efficient routine as "the eight instructions of doom" that will beat Solaris because it makes UltraLinux so fast.

Jon "maddog" Hall talking about Linux Around The World wrapped up with some quick calculations -- 200M windows installations + 9M commercial Unix installations + 6M Linux installations + 2M proprietary installations (mainframes, etc) + stragglers =~220M os installations around the world. "There are 5.4 Billion people in the world, which means 5.2 Billion haven't made their OS choice yet." and his implication was that we can make Linux their choice. Cheesy, but inspiring to hear an auditorium packed / SRO with people clapping and cheering.


So last night I am sitting at the hotel bar, talking to two guys who use Linux for data gathering in oil wells and Lars Wirzenius, who wrote the Network Admin howto, when a guy walks up to Lars and offers to buy him a beer for his great documentation. (There has been a great deal of beer-buying going on all over the place for various linux luminaries in general.) The beer buyer goes on to explain that he works for the Department of Transportation and they are starting to do some air traffic control stuff on Linux.

Linus's keynote was today, which he began with "I'd like to start this talk how I like to start all talks. My Name is Linus. I am your God." Everyone (the few thousand people in the audience) broke into applause and a row of long-haired, bearded, moderately chubby guys in front of me started bowing Wayne-and-Garth style. This went on for about a minute. It was funny, but a little weird. Linus was very unassuming throughout his talk, but it was clear that there were plenty of people in the audience who would obey him if he turned tyrant. Later, as I was waiting for a ride back to the hotel, Linus + wife, with kids in tow, walked out of the building to his car. Another guy waiting for a ride yelled out, "It's god!" (joking, I think) and Linus replied, in what seemed like a pretty good southern-preacher accent, "You're saved! Hallelujah!"

Another big hit today was the Mike Shaver / Jamie Zawinski Mozilla.Org talk. Jamie showed up late, toting a bottle of Pepto Bismol, admonishing everyone not to eat at a nearby chinese restaurant. Eric Raymond said, "Uh oh, I did" so Jamie passed over the pepto. Mike and Jamie gave a good rundown of the distinction between Netscape and Mozilla.Org and what Mozilla's responsibilities and future directions are. They also gave a brief overview of the main parts of the code and where people could start working on things.

The theme of the day was definitely "We're Taking Patches" -- from not only the Mozilla guys, but Miguel de Icaza's great GNOME talk and even Linus' keynote -- if you want to see something get built, take the initiative to build it. Amidst all the commercial distributions and vendor presence here, it was nice to see reaffirmed that basic sentiment that has made Linux and other Open Source projects so successful.

[ TBTF for 1998-06-08 ]