Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Florida Linux Show

Yesterday morning at 5 am I left my house and headed to Jacksonville to attend the Florida Linux Show. After entering Jacksonville right at rush hour I arrived at UNF a little after eight, just before the keynote speaker started.

The keynote was given by Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, Novell's community organizer for OpenSuse. The most important thing I learned was that Suse is pronounce SueSah, not SueSea as I had been pronouncing it. *Nixers love to show how awesome they are by correcting people's pronunciations of different *nix distros. So I can count that as one more that I have right.

Speeches where given in forty-five minute block, with five going on at a time and a fifteen minute break in between. Poor Joe's laptop crashed on him early on in the presentation. That has to be pretty embarrassing when you are there to represent your product and it goes belly up on you during a presentation.


floridalinuxshow.com
The first session I attended was Joseph Guarino speaking on the state of gaming in Linux and the potential market proprietary game publishers could grow if they supported Linux as a platform to release their games. His argument was essentially that gaming is currently already pretty good in Linux, and that most Linux users would be interested in purchasing proprietary games if they where released for Linux. Poor Joe had a pretty bad cough and was having a pretty rough time, but I think those of us who came to see him where understanding and kept with him despite the difficulties. On top of the cough the display on the projector kept blinking. He was running Kubuntu 8.10 I believe. Ugh, not a good day for championing the benefits of Linux.


I missed the next session and opted to hang out at the Ubuntu table and talk to the fellow Ubuntu Florida Loco chaps. I showed off KDE 4.2 running on my laptop (poorly). I also played with other computers running different version of Ubuntu. One guy had HP's netbook running Ubuntu 8.10. It was very slick. Desktop effects where nice and smooth too. A box running Mythbuntu was there too, but he forgot his bluetooth adapter which would have allowed one to control it using a Wii remote. Crashsystems gave me a talk on why he loves Python for web programming and doesn't care for PHP.

Most people I hang out with don't care to talk tech much, especially Linux tech talk, so it was nice to be surrounded by Free Culture geeks like myself.

After that was lunch, and I just spent my time hanging out some more. I completely skipped lunch because I wasn't paying any attention and before I knew it the sessions where starting again. I also spoke to the guys from the Ubuntu Podcast. I gave him my opinion on the use of the word Podcast (which denotes use of an iPod, which is anti-free culture.) My opinion basically being that the words audio cast and video cast are good substitutions, but ultimately I'm not the kind of person that really cares much. I also watched Smita give an interview with John Pugh, a Canonical employee, about the upcoming Jaunty release.


floridalinuxshow.com
After lunch I attended Danny Wall's talk on Linux Clustering Services with a Focus on Health Care. He decided to take off the Health Care part because he felt like it was too specific. The clustering demonstration didn't go so well. He had four Red Hat virtual machines, but he didn't have everything setup right so the clustering didn't work. It then turned more into the benefits of open source and open standards in a business environment. One thing he said that I thought was really important was that he prefers open source, but he insists on open standards. Without open standards support from vendors it becomes impossible to make sure that your internal IT infrastructure can efficiently interact with each other. Open Source provides the leverage that IT professionals need to tailor applications to their specific business needs, which is a great benefit, but its absence won't put your business to a halt.


floridalinuxshow.com
The next session was on Open Office with Don Corbet. It was suppose to be an introduction to Open Office, but since everyone who attended was already familiar with Open Office it became more of a round table Q&A. I shared my poor experience with Base, and we also shared our experiences with getting other people to use Open Office. The talk didn't really go the way Don has planned it, but I think through our interaction it may have turned out better.

After the Open Office talk I joined Christan Gant's talk about Open Solaris. Solaris is not a Linux distribution, so I thought it was kind of odd they where giving a talk at a Linux convention, but we use Solaris on our work servers, and I had played with Open Solaris when it first came out, so I decided I would go to listen to what they had to say. Christan is the Campus Ambassador for SUN at UF. After he showed off the features of Open Solaris he took questions. I asked him a few questions about ZFS, the role of Open Solaris and the future of Open Solaris. He had two other SUN employees there who answered some of my questions.

They where talking up Open Solaris as though they expect it to really be the next desktop of choice. I don't see how they plan to really compete with Ubuntu. Ubuntu gets to ride the massive amount of developers working on Linux, and the massive Ubuntu community making massive strides in very small time. Open Solaris only gets to ride on the open source projects that are multi-platform, like Firefox and Gnome, their paid staff, and their small community. I brought up that when I tried to use Open Solaris I found that tools I considered critical for use at my work simply where not available in Open Solaris and that they where simply waiting for someone in the community to port them. They simply responded that less popular software would probably take longer to be picked up.

At the end of the presentation I noticed that it was given on a laptop running Windows Vista. One would think that if they where serious about Open Solaris as a dominating platform that they would give a vote of confidence to it by running it on the laptop they are giving the presentation on.

The final session I attended was Jessica Corbet's introduction to Gimp. She went over some of the basic features of using layers and changing colors, hues, etc. She was running Gimp on OSX, but nobody gave her any flack for that. OSX is at least a Unix derivative.


ubuntu-fl.org
After the event ended, everyone from the Ubuntu Florida Loco stood together for a group photo, and then followed it up with dinner at Seven Bridges, which I was ready for. I got to have a great chat with John, Doug, Smita, and Dan, who all seem to outstanding people.


I left Jacksonville around seven-thirty and arrived at my house at ten. I don't think I will be attending the event in Orlando in October, but I do plan on making next years' event in Jacksonville.