This week I’m at linux.conf.au, the southern hemisphere’s premier open-source conference. This year it is being held in Ballarat, about an hour’s travel from Melbourne. I’ll be documenting the trip and conference as much as I can given the limits of my enthusiasm and awakeness.
Friday 20th January:
Friday is the last day of the conference, and everybody is starting to look tired; it’s a full-on week. But, before we all go home, there are just a few more excellent talks to attend. The first of these was Friday’s keynote, given by Jacob Appelbaum, and what an amazing keynote it was. Jacob talked about the state of surveillance states. He explained what they are doing to keep track of all of their citizens, and the special measures that have been put in place in the last few years (mostly since September 11) that significantly curtail our freedoms in the name of privacy and safety. A few choice quotes from the talk:
Free software is for freedom, open source is for business solutions.
Be the trouble you want to see in the world. [It's in my notes, but I'm pretty sure it was actually just written on his shirt]
90s Nihilism: I have nothing to hide.
The data kept about you in [server] logs around the world tells a story that is not necessarily true, but is made up of facts.
This talk flowed on nicely from Senator Ludlam’s talk at the Penguin dinner.
After morning tea, I watched the talk by Rusty Russell and Matt Evans about why UNIX has been getting bigger over time (in terms of binary bloat). It’s mostly due to new features, but also because of the infrastructure that modern systems have and the libraries that are statically linked in these days (glibc is basically just bloatware). Also in this session I attended the talk by Simon Horman on Open vSwitch. It’s really interesting content, but the presentation was a bit dry. It’s definitely something I want to check out when I get home though, as it could be quite useful for me when I have VMs set up in Linux. The support for VLANs makes it a much better choice than standard Linux network bridges.
During lunchtime there was a meeting between a group of Tasmanian delegates, and it was decided that the Hobart Linux User’s Group should be started up again. So if you’re reading this, like Linux and live in Hobart, get in touch!
After lunch was the best-of sessions. These were talks voted for by the delegates that they wanted to see again, or missed the first time around. I watched two fabulous talks. The first was on Codec2 (presented by David Rowe), an audio speech codec that uses 1400 bits/sec for transmission, which is a 500x improvement on raw 16bit 44.1kHz audio. Very impressive. The second was on the freedom box project (presented by Bdale Garbee, which is a platform for developing easy-to-use home servers oriented towards federated social networking services (such as Status.net or Diaspora). This followed on nicely from Appelbaum’s talk that morning, giving a solution to some of the problems that were outlined.
The final session of the conference was the lightning talks. The real highlight was watching Paul Fenwick jump up on stage between the lightning talks and try to give a several minute long presentation in thirty seconds. He failed, but it was funny to watch. After the lightning talks was the closing ceremony. The main reason for this is to hand out a few awards and thank some people, but also to find out where the next linux.conf.au is going to be held. Next year, it’s in Canberra!