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I just returned from LinuxCon, the Linux Foundation’s premier conference, held this year at the warm, muggy Boston waterfront. There were many interesting items to report, these are only a few:

  • MeeGo is emerging as a powerful alternative to Android, partly due to its excellent user interfaces (albeit highly Intel-centric driver support) but, in my mind, mostly due to its adherence to open-source standards. In opposition to Android’s divergence from mainline, MeeGo‘s central philosophy is very much in line with the Open Source Way, and that is a very good thing to see in embedded Linux. I am hopeful that they will adopt much of the incredible work being done by the Linaro folks in bringing ARM support to Linux in general. Note as well that MeeGo has been selected by GENIVI as the reference software for future in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems, and MeeGo certainly looks up to the task. I may be forced to revise my prior opinions about netbooks as a result of the demos I encountered.
  • Oracle had a large (though relatively ignored) table at the conference, and Oracle SVP Linux & Virtual Engineering Wim Coekaerts gave an interesting keynote the first day explaining some of the Linux-based work going on inside Oracle. This, however, was immediately overshadowed just after the conference when Oracle sued Google over the use of Java, a suit which appears to be not only baseless but outright hostile. News like this confirms the worries many of us have about Oracle’s stewardship of the valuable open projects they have acquired along with Sun Microsystems: Java, VirtualBox, and of course MySQL, which some have opined was the reason for acquiring Sun in the first place. (Personally, I tend to think it has more to do with Sun’s enterprise server customer base.)
  • Speaking of MySQL, Monty’s excellent team has countered with a new fork called MariaDB, which looks remarkably like MySQL under the hood. They have also started a community: AskMonty.org, a meeting place for open database enthusiasts. AskMonty.org is the central point for MariaDB and provides downloads, a blog, and a developer wiki.
  • On Monday, Teaching Open Source gave an education mini-summit that I was honored to help organize. Between 20 and 30 interested folks – educators, administrators, students, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals – came together to discuss the best methods for teaching open source and getting students involved in the processes and communities early. Many fantastic ideas were explored. Video and audio should be available soon, and Fedora hero Máirín Duffy has written up an excellent set of notes on the day.
  • Yours truly gave a resounding talk (standing room only!) on the subject of desktop Linux entitled Desktop Distribution Showdown. The slides are available [PDF], and look for an article on the subject very soon be sure to read the exciting companion article.

All in all, LinuxCon and the Education mini-summit were intense, informative, and highly community-oriented. I was glad to meet new friends and see old ones, and I am already looking forward to next year.


Thanks to all who attended the Desktop Linux Showdown! Had a great time. Slides are now available.


This week, I am traveling to Oregon to attend the Community Leadership Summit Sat-Sun and O’Reilly’s OSCON Mon-Fri. That’s a full week of high community involvement, and I am looking forward to every minute of it.

As regular readers know, I’ll be speaking at OSCON on the subject of the BeagleBoard, my favorite inexpensive single-board computer based on the ARM Cortex-A8. I’ll present detailed instructions on how to boot several flavors of Linux (with demos!) and I’ll have a prototype of the new BeagleBoard xM that is set to debut at the end of July. My talk is Wednesday at 2:30 just after Bryan Smith’s presentation on the SheevaPlug, which I am very much looking forward to hearing.

I’m also looking forward to the Embedded Linux Community BoF, which I’ll be running on Wednesday evening at 7pm. This BoF is opposite the recently-announced Android Hands-On, but I am hoping to stimulate a conversation more about the embedded community in general than about specific distributions. The roundtable discussion will likely focus on non-mobile embedded computing, particularly build systems like OpenEmbedded and the new crop of inexpensive reference platforms, and how communities can accelerate development, even among corporations (witness GENIVI, open-source success in the automotive industry).

I will also be joining the Teaching Open Source crowd at the Education BoF on Monday evening, where we hope to discuss many issues surrounding the Open Source Way and its impact on open-source concepts in education. A splinter group (ha!) will very likely stay late to discuss the schedule for the upcoming Education Mini-Summit at LinuxCon, which I have the honor to help organize. I’m also speaking at LinuxCon about desktop Linux and holding another Embedded BoF.

Yes, I love participating! Life is a contact sport, if you do it right.

Feel free to comment if you plan on attending any of these events, and you will win one (1) Jefro.net business card and a hearty handshake at the event in question. See you at the show!


The venerable Linux Foundation just this morning announced the schedule for LinuxCon, which happens in Boston, MA, August 10-12. The lineup looks pretty fantastic, with talks by Joe Brockmeier, Scott Remnant and Matt Asay of Canonical, Karen Copenhaver talking legal, my old workmate John Hawley on the state of kernel.org, Karlie Robinson on business (looks very interesting), plus the usual cast of awesome kernel maintainers—over 60 talks, plus bowling and rubbing elbows with luminaries. I just love these things. The sense of community and camaraderie is overwhelming, and the Linux Foundation does a great job of keeping things professional, intimate, and fun.

The day before, on August 9, I will also be helping to run the day-long Teaching Open Source mini-summit on education. This is a chance for professors, teachers, trainers, and others involved in educating people to get some pointers from industry on best practices for educating. If you are a teacher thinking about open source, or if you know one, consider joining this vibrant and important discussion.

At LinuxCon, I will be giving a talk entitled Desktop Linux Showdown, in which I will compare and contrast the various popular desktop offerings and find out just where the Year of the Linux Desktop went (hint: look in your pocket). This talk will take place Tuesday, August 10, in the Mediterranean room. Here’s the abstract:

Every year for the past five or six has been called the Year of the Linux Desktop by some number of pundits. Certainly Desktop Linux has become much more user-friendly. But just how friendly is it? In this presentation, we will examine several different normal, everyday activities on each of the three major Linux desktop distributions, and perhaps a few non-normal activities (e.g. configuring hardware) that we all endure from time to time. Who has the best overall user experience? Come find out & share your experiences. Distributions examined: Ubuntu 10.04, Fedora 13, OpenSuSE 11.2, all using the Gnome window manager. As time permits, we’ll look at key activities using KDE as well. Activities will include, but are not limited to the following: “time to live” (startup time comparison, power-on to usable desktop); installing applications from repository or from download; system configuration tools; online help; setting up new hardware (example: Epson scanner using xsane); setting up network services (Wi-Fi, Samba, NFS); one live activity at audience’s request.

That “audience request” thing is going to be tough given that I’ll have to reboot each time! My weenie little ThinkPad T43 does about as well with virtualization as I do at math skills before morning coffee. Anyone want to loan me a good fast machine?

I will also be hosting an embedded Linux BoF, although BoFs have not yet been announced on the schedule. More on that soon.

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