One thing I meant to point out yesterday is that the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre is HUGE – not at all on a human scale, more like an aircraft scale.
Anyway todays initial keynote was from Kevin Kettler the CTO at Dell about virtualisation. Although the ideas were quite interesting – what would it be like to have several custon virtual appliance images for different things, gaming, mulitmedia, email/browsing, etc, all optimised and protected from each other. It seemed to me though that it came across as a bit preachy and the tone didn’t seem quite right – at one point he played a video which really didn’t have any content and had some pretty strong stereotypes of ‘Linux guys’.
After that I went down to the show floor for more schmoozing at the Gnome booth. Jonathan Blandford and some other RedHat dudes installed AIGLX on his machine and were pimping their eye candy. It looked pretty cool – wobbly windows, really fast and smooth magnification and the window exploded on minimise. And this was all runing smoothly on an IBM T4X (T41 I think). To be fair one of the Novell guys (the product manager for SuSE Linux Desktop I believe) showed me Xgl running on a new X60 with Intel graphics and it was really smooth and he claimed they had external monitor auto detection all worked out.
I went along to an interesting panel ‘Are open-source databases ready for the Enterprise’ chaired by Stephen O’Grady with Marten Mikos or MySQL, Andy Astor of EnterpriseDB, and Michael Olson of Sleepycat who are now part of Oracle. Marten is so quotable. At one point Stephen asked ‘most people don’t actualy read or use the source code so do you derive a benefit from being open-source other than the price being zero’ – to which Marty answered (roughly) ‘We absolutely derive a benefit. The fact that the code is open and someone might look at it means that we have to write better code – it’s the same reason that your front yard looks better than your back yard, even though you spend more time in the back yard.’ It was nice to meet Stephen after the event – we’d shared ideas about the lesscode philosophy.
On that theme, Luis and I were chatting and wishing for a Ruby on Rails type approach to desktop applications – something that takes away all of the pain and makes the whole thing easy. Of course when I mentioned this to Miguel later he, of course, started telling us why Mono was exactly that. While I like Mono I don’t think it’s the right comparison – one of the key things is that Rails is opinionated and clear about what is does, it’s not trying to be all things to all people. Mono, by it’s nature, is too general. There is no reason why a Rails like framework couldn’t be built on top of Mono and Monodevelop. It just needs someone to take a stand and express an opion about how desktop clients should be written.
After that was a bit more wandering around the show floor. The rpath stuff was really intersesting. Their product allows you to build a custom distribution with just the pieces needed to run your app, e.g. bugzilla, asterisk, mythtv, etc, etc. Their system can build either a custom install cd, based on Anaconda the RedHat installer, or a Vmware image, or Xen images, and soon LiveCDs.
In the afternoon was Larry Augustin’s keynote panel with (that man again) Marten Mikos, John Roberts of SugarCRM, Marc Fluery of JBoss (the other most quotable CEO because he doesn’t give a fuck who he upsets – I recommend asking what he thinks of IBM), and Peter Levine from Xensource. Many of the same points were made as in the Stephen O’Grady panel. I was enjoying the banter between the panelists so I sat back and just enjoyed the show. I didn’t make any notes are try too hard to memorise everything. So sue me.
After that I hung out with The Linux Link Tech Show crew. The were trying to get me to talk smack about Jono and the LUGRadio guys. Miguel de Icaza came over for a chat, and they forced us to pose for a photo, with me holding a tllts t-shirt (of which they gave me two, one for Jono).
After the show we went into Boston to find a Thai restaurant we looked up on Google maps. For some reason they left me to navigate the subway and find the place. We were starting to feel jinxed as the subway train we got on at Park Street started smoking and there was that kind of burnt out electric motor smell. After a brief pause all the passengers had to get off and wait for the next train. Maybe the Unisys guys were on the train too?
Anyway the food was great – I had tofu mango curry, not very hot but very tasty – and it was fun to hang out with tllts – it was wierd listening to them talk about Linux and open-source stuff; like watching the US version of The Office, familiar but American. LUGRadio but American. BTW they were saying they had a really good interview with Nat Friedman which I’ll be checking out when I get chance (probably on the plane home).