I’ll write more about the always-awesome co-located Embedded Linux Conference and Collaboration Summit on Monday after I recover a bit and chop some more firewood (still more rain in forecast!?). But I wanted to say first off that the conferences were AWESOME yet again. I’m not just talking about the multitude of schwag, which included t-shirts, books from O’Reilly, and a very special gift from Google‘s Chris DiBona. Nor am I just talking about my own presentation, which I thought went pretty well. Nor am I even talking about the very well-attended demo night in which we all saw the newly-revealed OMAP4 in action, nor the excellent food and professional staff at the Hotel Kabuki, nor even the fun social event at Yoshi’s on Fillmore (were those little spicy shrimp things awesome or what?).

As always, the best part of any conference is the people. I enjoyed catching up with friends I know from work, from the field, and from previous conferences. The artifice of competition falls away completely, and it feels like we are all collaborators in making Linux succeed. Shouts out to: Unika Laset from MontaVista; Mike Anderson from PTR Group; Frank Rowand from Sony; Anna Dushistova and several other folks from Mentor Graphics; David Mandala from Ubuntu; the always hilarious Dirk Hohndel from Intel; Grant Likely of Secret Lab; Landon Jurgens from GE; Marsee Henon and Adam Flaherty from O’Reilly Publishing; and of course Tim Bird, Satoru Ueda, and the team from CELF, and Amanda McPherson and the team from the Linux Foundation, who made the whole thing happen in the first place. I also got the chance to speak with some new friends, like Sven-Thorsten Dietrich from Novell, Mike Eager of Eager Consulting, and several other ex-MontaVistans who always seemed to be gathered together planning something; Rob Landley; Jake Edge from LWN.net; Kamal Mostafa from Canonical; and Chris Pearson and all of the other understandably excited guys from Texas Instruments.

I’m sure I have forgotten many folks. Some I saw from across the room and missed connecting with. Some–many–I heard speak and wished I could have talked with them more, but there is always next year. Some I talked at length with and only realized later that I never learned their names or got a business card. All of you are why I go to this fantastic event every year. I would attend if it were held in a basement, though I am grateful that it is held in high style with great food instead.

And, also, there is always the week of April 26, when the gigantic bigshow tent goes up in San Jose for the circus that is the Embedded Systems Conference Silicon Valley. ESC does not have the quiet intimacy of ELC and Collab—ESC’s attendance is on the order of 100x that of the smaller technical conference. One does not necessarily get a chance to sit between Dirk Hohndel and Jake Edge at lunch, nor to spill coffee on Jim Zemlin or Greg Kroah-Hartman. (No, I didn’t, although I could have.) On the other hand, ESC is about all embedded systems, not just the Linux-centric ones, and the exhibit floor is packed with some of the highest technology in the world. Semiconductor manufacturers and software providers give excellent talks and often put on day-long seminars like TI’s Technology Day, where I plan to learn a whole lot more about the Beagle Board from the guys who invented it (Hi Gerald & Jason!) and where I can collaborate with fellow Google Summer of Code mentors.

I can almost feel like a peer and collaborator at ELC & Collab. I always feel like a student at ESC.

If you don’t normally attend conferences, I strongly suggest coming out to ESC. Exhibit hall passes and keynotes are free, and you’ll see all there is to see in the world of embedded systems. Next year, though, come to ELC for a very different experience.