Archive for October, 2005

LinuxWorld Expo UK 2005

Monday, October 10th, 2005

Photo: Bill Weinberg at the LinuxAwards 2005 ceremony.

The 2005 LinuxWorld Expo took place last week in London Kensington. I myself was there for both of the days and hosted several of the conference events, asked Microsoft people embarassing questions at the Great Debate, judged a number of the awards at this year’s ceremonial evening and even manned a stand for a while. On Tuesday evening, I was up talking to the organisers by phone until around 12:30 am and had met up with my friend Bill (after finishing work late – been using the BDI on MTD code quite a lot lately) and some friends for Thai food at a place near the conference hotel. Since I wasn’t staying that night, I had to get back to Reading (and a big thanks to the collective incapacity of the british railway network for cancelling all of the usual trains on that night so I had to get a 50GBP taxi to Reading) in the early hours in time to pack an overnight bag and return to the technical conference I was hosting by the morning. I managed it, just. Hosted a number of interesting talks from the likes of Alan Cox, Klaus Knopper and Mark Shuttleworth (and also introduced Bill on the second day at the business session).

Alan gave a talk on the Linux desktop, which I think went well. I added a few comments as the chair of the session and someone who has used Linux as his desktop since 1996. Wow, it’s changed a bit in that time, but it’s all fun. Klaus Knopper was talking about the cool stuff in Knoppix, about mergefs (I got him into a discussion of the relative merits of other approaches such as minifo aswell) and even libntfs and its limitation of not being able to rebalance the B-trees used by NTFS (but there should be some cool stuff happening there too in the next few months – I know Klaus was talking to the maintainers during the show). Microsoft made an appearance at the show in the lunchtime Great Linux Debate 2005 and I used the opportunity to have a nice little dig at Nick about how they can have all the money in the world and they’ll never have the passion which drives our community (and by extension drives some of us to go out of our way to see Microsoft fail). Mark Shuttleworth followed up on a few of my comments in the afternoon when I was talking to him after his talk on Ubuntu. Mark mentioned some cool features in Launchpad (enough that I should really go take a proper look now) and answered so many questions that the session overran quite substantially. Not that any of us cared – it was all pretty good stuff.

The Wednesday having been pretty damn busy, I tried checking into the Copthorne Tara for the night before going shopping for a last minute bow tie and cufflinks (the choice of a 27.50GBP set at Paddington station had seemed a little excessive – although I could have got two sets for 1GBP extra due to some pointless offer they were running in the store). The Copthorne had some computer issues so I ended up checking my luggage and walking over to a suit hire store with Daniel and grabbing some coffee on the way back along Kensington Highstreet. I ended up paying more by hiring some proper tousers aswell, but it saved having the ones I had brought with me dry cleaned. Not that I could find one of the suit jackets I wanted to wear with it – for all these suits I have here, I need to organise them properly and throw out the ones I don’t wear.

Photo: Alan Cox at the LinuxAwards.

The Wednesday evening ceremony went quite well. I had been one of the judges this year and proposed several of the entries – including at least one that we eventually voted to win. The Nokia 770 project was an example of an effort that I thought deserved some special recognition – not only do Nokia “get it” now, but they’re shipping a Debian based device to developers and have created a communicty project to help drive independent software development (so it’s all got a business motivation too – but they’re playing fair in the public perception). I enjoyed meeting Ari and Yannick, getting an invite to Helsinki, and especially having a 770 to play with. I’ve not taken it apart yet, but I’ve found what I presume to be a JTAG header and have done some analysis of the installed kernel – I’ve also got maemo and am pushing for kernel and toolchain sources for the model I have here so I hack on the VM and audio a little. Another special recognition went to Alan Cox (a liftetime achievement award) – I had them specially play “Rocket to the Moon” by Runrig when he went up to collect it, since I know he likes Runrig (he’s the one who got me into them).

Let see, I also took a bunch of photos of the awards on Wednesday night, wrote the voiceovers for people receving awards, had some interesting conversations with people like Alan (about ITE8212 “multicast” DMA type implementations of RAID1) and generally hung out with a load of really exciting people who made the evening fun. We had a characterturist draw the Linux User and Developer gang throughout the evening – he did what I figured he would with my large front teeth but it was pretty damn good – and I eventually popped in and out of the room once it got to Abba time (Becky tried to make me dance, but I’ll get my revenge by actually finding a pair of hot pants some time and turning up in the LU&D office with them). At 02:something, Bill and I started looking into the modifications of our book contract and borrowed the hotel business suite to print a few hundred pages of signables, a copier, and a stapler to collate them. That way, we could both get it done at the same time and I could ship 150 pages off to the publisher. I finally did get to sleep at around 04:00, just in time to be up late morning to return my suit and get over to the show for lunchtime cover of my friend’s business track and a bit of touring.

Thursday kind of involved lots of random things. There was a lot of coffee again, there was some sushi and a few businessy sessions. I reminded the Cyclades talk crowd that Cylades OOB infrastructure products are all the more cool because they’re powered by Linux and by the work of cool people like Marcello Tosatti and then hosted Bill’s session on VoIP as a disruptive technology of the future. He and I have just written an article on CE devices in the latest LU&D and once again paired as a team. I’m really looking forward to working with this guy on the book- and to hopefully visiting San Francisco again. I had some coffee with Richard and Daniel after the show and Kat and David joined us too. I then talked book stuff with the latter two over some rather enjoyable Wagamma and tea while they waited for their train.

I’ve been working all weekend on some backports from 2.6 to 2.4 and got into a fun debugging session at 04:00 on a Sunday morning. So I’ll be taking Monday off to chill out and get some vaccinations (managed to get an appointment from my surgery rather than the 77GBP private fee from my local travel clinic) for Typhoid and Hepatitis A. I’ll be travelling around bits of India for a week or so and then back here in time to give a talk in Manchester, visit a friend in Munich and some folks in Finland before planning some other more substantial trips. I’ve got to adjust my sleep pattern and do even more writing – especially as I have a new column and a few more articles in the pipeline in addition to my regular material and the book.


Random Weekend

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

Photo: An Air France advertisement on the London Underground. Still cheaper to buy with ATP.

I called up about all those annoying jabs I probably should have already had before going to Ahmedabad for my friend’s wedding. Apparently I need to get a shot of Hepatitis A and Typhoid as well as beginning a course of Chloroquine and Proguanil as soon as possible. Due to the potential for side effects, I’ll start the latter two later in the week. All in all, I’m looking forward to my first visit to India (and indeed my first visit to Asia) although I’m still in need of making some of the final arrangements, paying for an internal flight and that kind of thing.

I’ve been asked to give a few talks over the next couple of months and have just started yet another column, with hopefully some more writing coming. One of the guys also just backed out of my book, so I’m now in the wonderful position of having a lot to write about and needing to just get myself organised. I’ve just finished this month’s LU&D work with a column on USB hacking for Linux and another on the state of Linux Flash memory support. I’ve almost got the DVD materials put together and need to pull in a few last minute things. I’ll submit a proposal for writing a series on PowerPC porting in the next few days and then need to get cracking on this month’s two chapters for the book. Probably also should sort out having some photos taken of the two remaining authors (myself and a friend from the OSDL).

I have to get something ready for Wednesday’s LinuxWorld Expo as I am running the technical track at the conference and need to figure out how to introduce a bunch of really cool people. I’ll probably try not to be too annoying and just hand over to the speakers without a lot of prelude but will need to say something. Meh. I should think about that. This means I probably won’t have all day to wonder around the show, but I’ll have something I have to do. Wednesday evening will be taken up with the awards ceremony (I was one of the awards judges this time so I better not say much more about that yet) and I’ll have to dust off an actual suit for this grand occasion (or call up today and get something booked in the way of a hire outfit).

I’ve sorted out some stuff at home and figured out the next stage in this little life of mine. Project Canada is moving forward, via a little detour since I need to pay for the whole thing (so there are a few things I’m going to do there that I will mention when I do them) and the few folks I’ve spoken to about moving to Canada aren’t in a position to pay me through the whole process right now (but obviously, I’m very keen to speak to anyone who’d be interested in employing me to telework/relocate to Ontario). As always, I’m a random hacky type who’s very good at integration and kernel debugging – especially without a debugger – and you love me.

There were a few fun LKML posts lately. Did you see the one about having an XML generator in kernel? That’s right up there with the finest crack money can buy, but someone will do it. Yay! Why not swap out simple text files for pointless amounts of extra dead code and lots and lots of new bugs. But it would be another checkbox item on the buzzwordologist’s list of marketing terms. Someone else asked about process transactioning (they didn’t call it that, I did, but that’s what they meant). I pointed out a few things and I don’t think that’ll go anywhere – but it’d be cool if it did. It’s what I would have worked on if I’d done a PhD at some point. Maybe I will someday – but I’m more interested in emigrating now. On the subject of development, I figured out a few more things about the default NPTL/linuxthreads/whatever setup on Debian and on Linux in general. The LD_ASSUME_KERNEL hacks and all that crap make more sense once you read about the versioning support in ELF.

I managed to miss the deadline for filing my self assessment tax return because I was ill on Friday and then generally crap at getting it done beforehand (though the real deadline for tax returns isn’t until January if I undertake to calculate it myself), but I’ll get it done this week and hope for the best :-)