Related link: http://conferences.oreillynet.com/os2005/
Thursday was a busy day in the Exhibit Hall so I’ll just jot down the highlights as I remember them.
The BSD booth was well manned and I had the chance to meet the people behind the email addresses I had corresponded with in the past. Devon O’Dell and Seth Kingsley were kept busy creating live “live” CDs to give away. Aaron Grier demonstrated NetBSD on his SGI and DEC Alpha boxes. Matt Olander did an amazing job engaging probably every person in the hall in conversation. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who use BSD both casually and full-time. Even the few who did not would think for a minute and say something like “isn’t our firewall running BSD?” or “we have a BSD server in the back room someplace”.
Once Jason Dixon was finished his talk, he setup his network of OpenBSD systems to demonstrate CARP failover. If you haven’t seen this in action yet, you have to check it out. Jason started a ssh session, a ping and a large file transfer. He then physically disconnected the master firewall. There was a slight increase in latency in one ping packet as the backup firewall assumed master duties. No loss of either the ssh session or the file transfer. He’d then reconnect the original master and you could see both firewalls resume their initial positions. All without affecting the network traffic.
Beastie again made an appearance, this time on a segway. I’m still awaiting those pics, but I do have these ones of Beastie hanging out at the BSD booth:
From left to right in this one you can see Jason Dixon looking at his CARP demo, Seth Kingsley burning CDs, myself, Beastie and Matt Olander.
Here we actually stopped for a moment to pose. From left to right is Seth, Jason, myself, Beastie and Matt.
There were many other interesting booths in the Exhibit Hall. The Portland area is very progressive and a hub of Open Source activity. The Personal Telco Project provides free wireless access points throughout the city. (Portland airport, by the way, is the only one I’ve been through yet that provides free wireless access.) Oregon State University also has an Open Source Lab. I’ll definitely be taking a closer look at their site once I’m caught up. OSDL is also in the Portland area. I guess Linus was at OSCON, but no, I didn’t see him.
I had a chance to meet some people I’ve worked with remotely. My editor, chromatic, and O’Reilly’s user group manager Marsee Henon. I also met Bill Pollock from No Starch Press. And the entire SRA America crew as well as Bruce Momjian from the PostgreSQL project.
I had a lengthy conversation with the developers of ThoutReader and will be writing more about this later. This project integrates existing documentation with books from IT publishers into a personalized and fully searchable reader. As their button says, “you can’t grep a dead tree”. The reader itself is impressive: you can search by text, table and figures. The copyrighted material is protected from copying, yet the code snippets are cut and pastable–which saves you downloading these from the publisher’s website. I was very happy that there was a prominent BSD section. So, as an example, if I had a question on BSD, I could type in my search phrase and it would search all available documentation and books. That is invaluable. Sure, I may already have the books on my bookshelf, but rather than pulling 3 or 4 of them down looking for a particular phrase, I can have the answer available in a matter of seconds.
The ThoutReader has arrangements with publishers such as O’Reilly, No Starch Press, Pearson, and Wiley, meaning the author continues to get paid according to his contract. Better yet, the author can negotiate to have a portion of the proceeds from the book “sale” go to the Open Source project of his choice. They are also looking at implementing an affiliate program where, for example, every time someone downloads the FreeBSD handbook, a small donation goes to the FreeBSD project.
Besides existing documentation and books, they also have a program for an author to self-publish. Here, the author sets the price, how much of it he wishes to receive as a royalty and if any of the proceeds should go towards the author’s favourite Open Source project. Contact either Mark or Gary (contact info on the Info Center tab of the OSoft website) if you’d like more information regarding this project.
I’ll be contacting O’Reilly to get BSD Hacks added to ThoutReader. Mark and Gary were also highly receptive to the idea of creating internationalized versions of the reader. This would be a fantastic idea. Imagine having all of the Brazilian Portuguese, Polish or Simplified Chinese IT documentation available in one searchable location.
Finally, I was able to get commitments for several whitepapers on both the technical aspects of BSD as well as showcasing companies using BSD. I’ll let you know when the whitepapers are available. While on the road, someone emailed me with a question on a recent whitepaper I had written, for lo and behold, it had been published.
All in all, the second day of the Exhibit Hall was very productive. I met a lot of interesting people and made some good contacts for BSD advocacy.