Monday, April 25, 2005 Day 5

The second last day of the conference started with me again not winning a laptop (I'm beginning to see a pattern here), and a keynote by Andrew Morton. Andrew talked about his role as the guy in charge of maintaining the current 2.6 Linux kernel. It was really interesting to hear from someone who's at the very heart of Linux, and about how his methods differ from those of Linus (specifically while Linus sees his role as rejecting all but the best packages, Morton feels his role is to take as much usefulness from every suggestion as possible).

After the keynote, I went to listen to Elizabeth "Edale" Garbee talk about modifying the game Tux Racer. I figured Edale's talk would be fun, partly because she was talking about hacking a game, and partly because she's only about 13. And it was pretty cool. Nothing particularly ground breaking or anything, but still lots of fun.

After lunch I had been planning on checking out the World Forge talk, but then the program changed to include Mark Shuttleworth talking about going into space. I figured it was really a bit much to attend two games talks in the one day, so I went to hear about space. This has definitely been my favourite talk of the week. Going into space has always been a dream of mine (along with probably 3/4 of all the geeks in the world, although strangely not David Bowie), so it was really cool to hear about someone actually doing it.

As if to prove that I wasn't on a junket, I then went to hear developing in Mono. Michael Davies needs to build software prototypes for his day job, and so has found that C# is much better suited for the job than C. The fact that the same code runs on other platforms means he can develop on his Linux box at home and not suffer any pain using the code in a Windows environment.

Next up was a talk about the PostgreSQL query optimiser, which I figured might be somewhat useful for work. Turns out it probably wasn't, but it was still kind of interesting. I hadn't actually realised just how complex SQL queries could become - probably a side effect of only performing relatively simple operations.

Last up for the day was a talk by James Cameron (the apt-walkabout fill-in talk from the Debian mini-conf guy) talking about the bootable Linux CDs he'd built. He'd run a computer camp for kids, and so had prepared the entire desktop environment on a CD (or maybe it was a DVD). The computers would boot of the CDs, giving the kids exactly the same environment without altering the computers underneath (all running Windows). Very similar to the De Bortli setup.
The cool part was that it meant that they could quickly and easily control everything - all the network stuff was instantly set up, if something went wrong they could quickly recover and they could even do funky things like send a command from the instructor's machine and have a game (or a screensaver) launch on every other machine.

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