I had the opportunity to attend LCA2010 in Wellington, New Zealand in January of 2010. It was an amazing conference, in an awesome city. You can read all about it here.

But as soon as the conference was over, I struck out for the southern island to really get to know New Zealand.

My goal — the Routeburn Trek — one of the Five Great Walks of New Zealand, a 33km hike between the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.

Readers who follow my blog know how much I like a good long walk, having written before about my treks through Scotland, Yosemite, and numerous other hikes I haven’t yet written about (Grand Canyon, Big Bend, Interlaken, Cinque Terre, etc).

Leaving Wellington

I left Wellington late on Friday evening, flying Air New Zealand to Christchurch. I must say, my experience on 6 flights in 2 weeks on Air New Zealand was very impressive. These guys run an excellent operation. All of my flights were on time, no bags damaged or lost, and I was able to trivially bump my flights to earlier ones on 3 occasions, flying stand-by for no charges or extra fees (errm, Continental — take some lessons). And their in flight safety video is genius!

I couldn’t catch the direct Wellington -> Queenstown without missing some of the conference, so I had to stop over for a night in Christchurch. I didn’t see any of Christchurch except the Sudima Hotel, but my even was not entirely uneventful. My bus driver noticed my Ubuntu baseball cap and proudly told me that he and his son run Kubuntu. And after checking in at the Sudima, I noticed that their internet Kiosks in the lobby were running Hardy 😉 So I watched an episode of Dexter and called it a night.

I took the first flight from Christchurch to Queenstown on Saturday morning, on a noisy little propeller aircraft. The flight was beautiful though, cruising just a bit over gorgeously carved mounts and fiords.

The landing was interesting, as we sort of spiraled down to the little Queenstown runway.

I took the bus to Queenstown’s center, where I needed to checkin in person with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) office and retrieve my hiking and camping permits.

With that done, I needed to pick up a few groceries and provisions. I was traveling pretty minimally, without pots or pans, so I avoided foods I had to cook. Two containers of hummus, some tortillas, salami, granola bars, chex mix, and a small bottle of New Zealand single malt whiskey (10 year old Milford Sound). Unfortunately, the hypersensitive New Zealand biosecurity terror prevention force seized my Texas Jalapeno beef jerky when I passed through customs. Damn.

So then I hooked up with my transportation to the start of the Routeburn Trek, some 70km away from Queenstown. The drive was absolutely picturesque, driving along Lake Wakatipu for several hours.

I met a fun Canadian couple (Matt and Stephanie) on the bus, who had taken a 6 month sabbatical from work, spending the whole time hiking around New Zealand. Sounds like fun! We stopped in the tiny hamlet of Glenorchy for a few minutes, to pick up a few more hikers. The visitor center had a couple more kiosks running the same Ubuntu Hardy systems 😉

And another half hour later, I was at the start of the Routeburn Trek for a bit of relaxation in the form of hiking twenty-something miles.

Now the end of the trek is a good 250km from Queenstown. Yeah, strange. But that’s how it goes in the mountains.

The Plan

  • Day 1, Saturday, January 23, 2010
    • Start the hike at Routeburn Shelter around 2pm
    • Hike about 10km uphill past Routeburn Flats Hut
    • Spend the night at the Routeburn Falls Hut
  • Day 2, Sunday, January 24, 2010
    • Big day of hiking
    • Climb to the summit of Harris Saddle and Conical Hill
    • Traverse downhill past the Lake Mackenzie Hut
    • Spend the night at Lake Howden hike
    • Cover a goodly 20km+ of distance
  • Day 3, Monday, January 25, 2010
    • Finish the hike at the Divide Shelter
    • Catch my bus back to Queenstown at an early 10:15am
    • Done!

Hiking Day 1

Day 1 was almost entirely uphill. I prefer to start hikes like this (as oppose to hiking into canyons), as it’s nice to do the uphill work on fresh legs, feet, and back. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, sunny and clear. As the Kiwis say, the weather was ‘fine’. I crossed several swing bridges (always brings me back to a playground as a kid, somehow).

Most of these span swift-moving streams.

Waterfalls appear near the trailing about every 15 or 20 minutes of walking, it seems.

About an hour into the walk, I started getting my first sweeping views of the mountainous landscape.

And another couple of hours later, I had arrived at Routeburn Flats.

Here, there’s a shelter at the bottom of a “burn“, specifically, Routeburn, the namesake of the trail.

I stopped for a bit, having a late lunch, brewing a tea in a borrowed pot, and filling (and treating) my water bottle from the stream. I also visited a bit and said my goodbyes to Matt and Stephanie, my mates from the bus ride from Queenstown.

Having rested my feet a bit, I started the much steeper climb up to Routeburn Falls Hut. I was in no rush, having plenty of daylight and time to reach the hut.

So I hiked comfortably, stopping to take lots of pictures, rewarded by some outstanding views of the burn below and the peaks above.

I arrived at Routeburn Falls Hut a few hours before sunset, and managed to watch the mountains glow in a clear twilight.

The views of the valley below, from the hut, were simply spectacular.

The evening’s ranger talk was fun and interesting, hearing a bit about the history of the trail and the wildlife. Our ranger left us with a challenge for the evening, which I found quite interesting! There was a huge canvas on one of the walls with “Welcome to Routeburn Falls, Merry Christmas) written in 30 languages. He offered a huge bar of chocolate to the first person or team to identify 25 of those languages correctly!

Well, I had dinner with a young couple named Gary and Kylie, and Gary’s mom — all locals from New Zealand’s southern island. And managed to team up with another couple (Nico from Italy and Rochel from Australia) for the language challenge. What a fun way to spend the evening! We managed to get 22 answers correct. Unfortunately, we mixed up Chinese/Japanese, and Norwegian/Swedish. We did manage to get a ton of them right, though. I recall having identified at least French, German, Dutch, Celtic, Spanish, Catylan, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Maori, Danish, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean. I know that we missed at least Slovenian, Ukranian, Punjabi. In any case, we didn’t win the chocolate. But I did learn to play a card game called 500 (similar to Euchre, 42, Hearts, or Spades). Eventually, I called it a night, and turned in to my bunk.

Hiking Day 2

I didn’t get a particularly good night of sleep, as it rained quite a bit. I had every intention of starting my hike by 7am, but it was raining pretty hard. I pulled my sleeping bag over my head and tried to get a few more ZZZs. By 8am, I realized that the rain wasn’t necessarily going to pass, and I had a solid 20km to cover. Time to don the rain gear. But first, coffee!

So I started out a bit after 8:15am on Sunday morning. The hut was absolutely packed the previous night, with a huge group of 27 hikers in a commercial outfit. Unfortunately, the trail was rather packed with some 35+ hikers trying to cover the next few miles uphill at basically the same time. There was a lot of passing and being passed, on very narrow, very steep trails. Oh, and it was raining. Only occasionally a driving rain. But more regularly a misty, soaking rain. It was an uphill climb, gaining over 2000 feet of altitude, basically hiking into a wet cloud!

Wet, crowded, cold, uphill hiking — not exactly ideal conditions. But all that changed once I passed over 4000 feet, and stood above the rain clouds.

The skies were clear, and the views of Lake Harris were simply spectacular.

I took a few hundred pictures in the next hour, of Lake Harris and the dozens of snow covered peaks in every direction. The rain ceased, and I was able to peel off my rain gear and start drying off, now that I was basically above the clouds.

Near the top of the saddle is another hut. Members of the big group were trickling into the hut where their organizers were boiling water for tea and hot chocolate.

At the Harris Saddle Shelter, I decided to drop my pack for a bit…

And spent the next 1-2 hours hiking to the summit of Conical Hill, where last night’s ranger promised breathtaking views.

About half way up, the views of Lake Harris were even more incredible.

But once I got to the top, it was totally enshrouded in cloud. I literally couldn’t see anything.

I hung around for a good 15-30 minutes, waiting for the clouds to break, and they finally did, partially, and only for a few seconds. I could see a vast mountain range of gorgeous, snow capped peaks in the distance!

I could watch as clouds climbed over mountains and a seemingly accelerated pace. It was very beautiful. I have some nice video clips, too.

Eventually, I made my way back down Conical Hill, grabbed my pack, and started a long traverse around the back side of the mountain. I took a few pictures, but unfortunately most of them were in a thick fog, an don’t look very good.

Eventually, I completed the traverse, rounding the side of the mountain, and was rewarded with views of Lake Mackenzie far, far below.

I could actually see the Lake Mackenzie Hut (my next stop) here, several miles away. But I was deceptively far away! It took nearly two hours to negotiate the steep, seemingly endless series of switchbacks down the hillside to the shores of the lake and the hut. My last 4 hours of hiking had been spent above the tree line, but now I was just making it back down below.

It’s worth mentioning that New Zealand is the home to some 70+ species of fern, and the dense, lush rain forests are absolutely covered in them.

So the Lake MacKenzie Hut was a sight for sore legs. It was quite sunny and warm, and I was really happy to stop for a good hour or so.

I took a dip in icy (8C, 46F) Lake Mackenzie, and then hung around for a bit on the beach, drying off in the warm sun.

And after my nice respite, I set off for the end of my long day’s hike. By this point, the skies had totally cleared, and the beautiful mountains of Fiordland National Park were in perfect view.

Mountain daisies covered both sides of the trail.

And I got totally sun burnt!

About half way to Lake Howden, I passed through the 174m (570 foot) Earland Falls.

And while it was certainly amazing from a distance, it looked like a scene from The Blue Lagoon up close.

And about an hour later (and 20km after I started my journey earlier that morning), I finally arrived at Lake Howden Hut.

Finally, I could get some rest, and reflect on how far I had hiked that day!

This hut was far less crowded than the previous nights’ accommodation. There were only a few people, really. There was a really nice kid named Jonathan from Sydney (who, coincidentally had studied abroad at UT in Austin), traveling with his father who was an ultra-marathoner. But I really got a kick out of Carl, his sister Megan, and his girlfriend Sam, who were a lot of fun to chat with as the evening slipped away.

So I munched on my dinner, finished my whisky, and got an excellent night’s sleep.

Hiking Day 3

I woke early the next morning, as I had to finish my hike and board a bus by a whopping 10:15am!

The fog rolled slowly over Lake Howden that morning.

The beginning of the morning’s hike was actually quite steep! But once I made it to the crest, I could see all of the valley below, all the way down the burn, to mountains many, many miles in the distance.

After a few more waterfalls, and a nice traipse down a fern-filled trail, I had completed the Routeburn Trek!

I hung around the Divide Shelter for the next hour or so, awaiting my bus.

Near the shelter, I found some really interesting purple flowers…

With some strange patterns inside. They look like something from Avatar 🙂 Can anyone help me identify this plant?

And alas, my bus arrived, perfectly on time. I dozed off for a bit of the 5 hour drive back to Queenstown, but I can guarantee that the scenery was spectacular. I was just exhausted!


To close the trip, I had one relaxing day and night in Queenstown, where I stayed at the rather fancy Nomads Hostel. This place is in a totally different league from the hostels I stayed at nearly 10 years ago backpacking around Europe in 2001. The town is right on Lake Wakatipu, with a nice, clean beach.

I actually watched the end of the NFL playoff game where Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints beat Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings in overtime in a rocking Superdome. Who dat!

After I finished my fish-n-chips and a Guinness, I took a very cold dip in the lake, brrr!

I wandered around Queenstown for a bit, buying a few souvenirs, enjoying an ice cream, and passed back by the beach around sunset.

I finished my trip with a blind pub crawl organized by the Nomads Hostel, which was surprisingly fun! And that’s about it. What a trip! I hope you enjoyed my narrative and pictures. I certainly enjoyed recapping it.

Kia ora,


Taking a break from the Ubuntu Distro Sprint here in Portland, Oregon, a few of us took a field trip tonight, to…

Lost, the Final Season premier episodeawesome. This is going to be an entertaining finale to the best show on network television in 15+ years.

The Bagdad Theater, Portland, ORexcellent. I’m a big fan of nice, old fashion theaters. In Austin we’re blessed with a series of Alamo Drafthouse Theaters. The Bagdad, too, has big comfy chairs, good beers, and decent pizza. The crowd was really into Lost, too, which was a lot of fun.

The jerk-hole management at the Bagdadbig pile of SUCK. After having waited in line outside in the drizzling rain for over an hour, these guys refused entry to my friend Nick, because he presented a French National ID. The dude is 40. His ID clearly showed his birthday in YYYY-MM-DD numeric format. However, the retarded automaton loser checking IDs at the door cited Oregon law that apparently says that he is required to refuse entry to any person bearing identification which he is not able to read. Are you effing kidding me? Nick is clearly of age, and his birthday was written in plainly readable digits. Come on, Oregon! You are a free thinking, progressive, open minded state. I mean, even in Texas, where some counties barely recognize present-day France as a nation, we would happily accept Nick and his French ID. WTF!?!

Disappointing, Bagdad Theater. Disappointing, McMenamins. Disappointing, Oregon. Get it together and learn to treat people fairly, and with dignity.

So anyone from a foreign country, bearing an ID that’s not written in plain English, beware… You are not welcome at McMenamins establishments. You will likely be refused entry to McMenamins‘, so you may want to steer clear…


I was interviewed recently by the Slovenian online tech magazine, Slo-tech.com, about eCryptfs and Ubuntu’s Encrypted Home Directory feature. Enjoy!


My apologies for not announcing this in advance, but I just today gave a 1-hour session on KVM in #ubuntu-classroom in IRC for the Ubuntu Developer Week.

You can read the log here.

From this session, you should learn:

  • a bit about what KVM is, how it works, what you need to have to be able to use it
  • launching of a basic virtual machine (using testdrive)
  • dissection of the most useful KVM command line parameters
  • creating a backing disk image (even arbitrarily large, like 1 Petabyte!)
  • live migration of a VM


The day opened with a series of Lightning Talks. Unfortunately, I missed most of these as I had some issues with checkout at the hotel. Paul Fenwick’s was a hilarious satire about unfriending people on Facebook.

Next, I attended Andrew Tridgell talk on Patent Defense for FOSS Developers. Having worked at IBM previously, I (unfortunately) have read many, many patents. Tridge’s talk was about how to read a patent. The most interesting point he made was about triple damages. Many open source projects (or companies) have a “don’t read patents so that we’re not one day liable for triple damages” policy. Tridge says this is dumb for open source projects/companies. If they’re sued for damages for infringing a patent, then they’re probably dead bankrupt. If they’re sued for triple damages, well, they’re still probably dead bankrupt 😉

He talked about the three types of patent defense:

  • non-infringement – we don’t do that – best defense
  • prior-art – someone did that before – very tricky
  • invalidity – you can’t claim that – almost impossible

The most important part is independent versus dependent claims. When working against a patent, focus on the independent claims. Prove that you don’t offend those, and you won’t offend the dependent claims either. And when looking at the independent claims, focus on the elements. Try to find elements that you omit.

I’ve read more patents that I care to admit, and I pray that I can avoid being dragged back into that world again. That said, God bless the people who still are doing this today. They’re doing this behind the scenes, and they’re getting no credit whatsoever for it. Thank you so much. What you’re doing for us is more valuable than anyone knows.

Next, I attended Arnd Bergmann‘s talk on Virtual Network Switching across Hypervisors. Current virtual networking in KVM looks like a basic switch/router (showing a basic home Linksys router on a slide). If that’s all you want, that works pretty much fine. Arnd is working on all the other complex networks, bridging, VLANs, etc. I’m following his work quite closely on the upstream mailing lists. His slides are available at: http://www.lca2010.org.nz/wiki/Talks/virtualnetworks.

I spent the next several hours with David Howells from Red Hat (author of keyutils and the linux kernel keyring). He was helping me with a small, but invasive change to the way eCryptfs Encrypted Home Directories loads keys into the keyring. He helped me move the keys from the user keyring to the session keyring. This will improve the clearing and expiration of keys once I’ve tested and released it. Many, many thanks to David for his help and patience. Cheers!

Rusty Russell gave his usual excellent presentation, this time about Hacking a Wiiremote for his 2 year old daughter. Funny, cute presentation. Basically, he attached a series of LEDs to a scrunchy that his daughter would wear on her wrist. The Wiiremote detects movent of the LEDs, and it’s attached to a Linux system where his code runs, using libcwiid (pronounced lib-seaweed, heh). He wrote a couple of Python programs, one that lets her smear paint on the TV screen, and another that lets her smack a baseball bouncing around the screen. Rusty is the quintessential hacker 😉

And, alas, the week is over… Finally, the Closing Session. Lots of thank you’s all around. These guys and gals put on an amazing conference. I hope I’m so lucky as to attend again some time.

From here, I’m taking a couple of days off, and hiking the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealands 5 Great Walks. I’m really looking forward to a couple of days unplugged, and in the Kiwi back country. Hopefully I’ll get some beautiful pictures, and have some stories to tell in another post.

Kia ora,

Back at the conference for Day 4!

The opening keynote by Glynn Moody was entitled Hackers at the End of the World. He started out by noting how amazed he was when researching Rebel Code (Sep 1999 – Sep 2000). He conducted 50+ interviews and was struck by how nice people were. Dan Lyons said much the same thing at his keynote at Canonical’s All Hands meeting last year.

Glynn talked about “free and openness” leaking out into areas beyond software. There was actually an open physics project that started 2 weeks before Linus’ famous 8/23/91 post. The Open genome project was saved by a lone hacker (Jim Kent) and a cluster of 100 Linux PCs. Open Science, open access to results, data… In many ways, the hacker culture is paving the way for science.

Documentation licensing has evolved. GPL, FDL, Copyright Commons, GNU GFDL. Wikipedia is probably the easiest way to explain to other people what Free Software is. I think I’m actually going to start using that to explain my job to friends and family. “So, Dustin, what do you do?” “Well, you know how Wikipedia works? Well, I’m a computer programmer that works on software in a similar manner!”

He says that the new millennium is thus far all about sharing. Web pages mostly have visible source code. Flash/Silverlight being the nasty exception. Blogs, delicious, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Myspace. People want to share.

Twitter/identi.ca is the “release early, release often” principle, applied to thinking 🙂

For 25 years, hackers have been showing others how to create and nurture sustainable commons through openness and sharing. Great talk!

Next, I attended a session on Flapjack Monitoring for the Cloud. It talks Nagios, and uses beanstalkd. The examples were mostly shown on Ubuntu and packaged in Launchpad PPAs. The goal of Flapjack is to be easy to install, configure, maintain, and scale. The project looks interesting, but I really couldn’t quite see the application for “the Cloud” yet.

As always, Jeremy Allison‘s talk was excellent and entertaining. He spoke about Microsoft – The Elephant in the Room. Great talk about Microsoft, and all the dirty things they do to Open Source. He talked about a few famous cases (Samba, OOXML, TomTom). The good news is that we have made Microsoft blink in the staring contest. This is good, but we haven’t had a knockout punch yet. Microsoft may be winning in court, but they’re rapidly losing the mindshare battle. OOXML showed this in a nutshell — they pushed the standard through, but everyone lined up against them. Patents are their nuclear option. TomTom was the first time Microsoft really tried this tactic; we all should be very afraid! Jeremy reminds us that IBM was once as feared and hated as Microsoft is today. Elephants can learn new tricks.

Neil Brown gave an interesting presentation on Design Patterns in the Linux Kernel. He gave lots of great examples, grepping through the kernel for some interesting recurring patterns. Jono Lange asked (what I considered to be a really funny) question. Neil had shown a few dozen binary searches in the kernel. Jono says that he’s a python developer, rather than a kernel developer, but in Python, he’d just write a binary search function, and use that in all of these places 🙂 Things are done differently in the Linux kernel.

Finally, I attended Launchpad Code Reviews by Tim Penhey. He started out by referencing the very funny website, http://thedailywtf.com. The talk was an excellent tour of Launchpad’s merge proposal and code review features.

After the conference we had a couple of beers on the waterfront at Mac’s Brewery, and then headed over to the Professional Networking event held at the Opera House.

Today is the final day of the photo competition. These entries focus on the Lambton quadrant.


The day started with Benjamin Mako Hill’s talk on Antifeatures, about technologies that are artificially hindered copyrights and market segmentation. The lyrics to Happy Birthday are actually still under active copyright. Mako has a satirical website that shows the ridiculousness of this: http://unhappybirthday.com.

The first example of an antifeature is paying to not list your phone number in the phone book. Who here has paid to have their phone number not listed? Spammers pay the phone company to get lists of phone numbers, and you pay the phone company to not give it to them. Absolutely ridiculous. He talked about Gator, the “most successful spyware in history”. You could pay OEMs to not install this crap on your computer. All in the name of market segmentation–different people pay different amounts for basically the same software. The Gator episode was 10 years ago … surely things are different now… Slide shows: Windows Vista (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Vusiness, Enterprise, Ultimate). Vista Basic can only run 3 graphical applications simultaneously. The goal was to make a barely functional, crippled Windows and offer it at almost no charge, but it was so bad, you really had to buy the upgrade.

Some cameras charge more to support the raw image format. Surely compressing the image using jpeg compression is more work (all images start out raw). Most of us here have bought a printer for $100, and then subsequent ink cartridges for $75… Modern print cartridges actually have some silly, copyrighted code in the cartridge that makes it basically impossible (illegal) to buy cheap refills. The XBox is a simple PC engineered not to run another OS (specifically, Linux). TiVo, same thing. Computers are ultimately perfect copy machines — much effort has been spent in the last 20 years trying to make PCs less perfect copiers. Who here hates the DVD “unskippable track”?

Phones are the most pervasive computers in the world, and almost every one is locked by a SIM card. Who here had an OpenMoko? “It didn’t do a lot of things, but some of the things it didn’t do were pretty great”, quote-of-the-day by Benjamin Mako Hill. DRM is basically the mother of all antifeatures. There are currently over 10,000 people employed in the DRM industry. You can submit your antifeatures at: http://wiki.mako.cc/Antifeatures.

I experienced a pretty crappy antifeature on my way over here… I had a total of 4 flights to get from Austin to Wellington. Austin -> Houston -> Los Angeles -> Auckland -> Wellington. Although I didn’t know it when I booked my travel, I happened to be in Houston the day before my flight started. For this reason, I called Continental to ask if I could just “skip” my Austin -> Houston leg. I wasn’t asking for a refund. Just to print my boarding passes as normal, tear up the AUS-IAH boarding card, show up in Houston with my ID and my other 3 boarding passes, and commence my journey. The Continental agent told me that this would cost $700 in addition to the $2500 that had already been paid for my fare. I would have had to pay Continental $700 to not take a flight. Effing retarded.

Next, I attended The Kernel Report by Jon Corbet (which actually hit Slashdot today). He list 7 challenges facing the Linux kernel:

  1. Vitality – Andrew Morton famously said that he expected the number Linux kernel patches to drop off at some point, implying that one day we would “finish” this kernel project (Sep 2005, 2.6.14 release). Changesets are still increasing, in fact, at a rate of 144 changesets per day, 7330 lines of code added per day. In the last year, the kernel has added: GEM, ext4, staging tree, wireless USB, KMS, btrfs, squashfs, wimax, 4096 cpu, tomoyo, integrity measurement, nilfs, radeon r6xx/r7xx, perf counter, userspace char devices, kmemleak, radeon kms, kernel shared memory, dynamic ftrace, drbd, tcp cookie transactions, nouveau.
  2. Scalability – in June 1996, Linux 2.0 added support for 2 CPUs. Today, Linux supports 4096 CPUs! Problem areas: 10G ethernet for large packets okay, not for small packets though; SSDs with 100K ops/sec are on the horizon. Scalability is a 2-way street; scaling down is important too, with so many of us here with root on our phone. The amount of resources required to run our kernel is increasing, fortunately behind Moore’s Law (at least for now).
  3. Storage – Ext4 – better perf, many limits fixed, ext3 compat, still stabilizing. Btrfs – is a totally new filesystem, performance, full checksumming, snapshots, is likely the Linux FS of the future. SSDs – poor performance over time.
  4. Visibility – What do we want to know about what our system is doing?
  5. (????) – Real time is important for gadgets (sound, music), but also financial services.
  6. Containment – Virtualization. Containers, more efficient, trickier to implement, in progress, still a long ways to go.
  7. Hardware – Nearly universal now. Support more hardware than almost any other OS now. Few remaining problems are in graphics and network adapters, -staging tree is helping.

Corbet suggested that LKML is now friendlier than the Ubuntu mailing lists.

Note: At the time, I took offense to Jon’s comment, calling it a “potshot” against Ubuntu. Per a private conversation with Jon, he was referring to a really nasty ubuntu-users@ thread. I consider the ubuntu-devel@ and ubuntu-devel-discuss@ lists to more akin to LKML, as developer/developer or user/developer communication. The latter two lists are tightly governed by the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, and in my experience, are much friendlier than LKML, historically. Jon assures me that he meant no offense to Ubuntu with his referenced comment.

Thankfully two other speakers today (mako and mjg) mentioned the Ubuntu Code of Conduct as being both important and effective in the Ubuntu community.

Next, I attended a Survey of Open Source Databases by Selena Deckelmann. In 2005, there were basically 5 open source databases — BerkelyDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite. Today, there’s 50+. She conducted a vast survey, asking a dozen or so questions of ~50 different open source database projects. See the results at: http://ossdbsurvey.org.

Ted Tso gave a talk on Ext4 — the 5th such talk by Ted in the last year and a half. It’s quite interesting to see how the talk has evolved from design level to the implementation retrospective that this talk was. This talk was absolutely standing room only. Since I was standing, I didn’t take notes. Basically, Ted cased a couple of the most critical bugs that were found, how they were found and fixed.

The next talk was on The Linux Community by Matthew James Garrett. It wasn’t a technical talk at all — it was all about the soft skills and relationships in the open source community. He notes that there are lots of different communities in the Free and Open Source community, each with their own definitions, and different rules for inclusion and exclusion. He showed a picture of the 2009 Linux kernel summit, followed by the UDS Barcelona group picture.

Matthew notes how much hostility there (still) is in the Linux community. He quotes himself from 2004, having said “**** on my ****” on a public mailing list. He also quotes a recent saga harassing girls that in the Linux community.

Matthew notes that that Ubuntu introduced the Ubuntu Code of Conduct to avoid some of the failings of the Debian Project, which can be summarized with, “Be excellent to one another” — Bill and Ted. The Ubuntu Code of Conduct has made Ubuntu users part of the community in a way that’s unique among distros. He asks, “What do we want our community to be?” He seems to suggest that we need to be far more open and welcoming. Question from Martin Krafft, “What changed in you, Matt, between 2004 and now for you to speak on this?” He responded that he’s had a change of heart, realizing he work with people without screaming at them. Applause from the audience, and Matthew says that the applause is bizarrely touching. 🙂

I really enjoyed the next talk on Teaching FOSS in Universities, by Andrew Tridgell and Bob Edwards. It’s not just about programming, or how to use Linux. It’s about how to format and submit a patch, join a project, start a project, run a project. They taught a CS Masters class, with a combination of practical and theoretical training, trying to get students involved in real projects, and to understand the FOSS community. The audience asked if they used Jono Bacon‘s book Art of Community. Tridge said “No, not really”, but did use Karl Fogel‘s book, Producing Open Source Software, (and mentioned it several times in the talk).

Their lectures included:

  1. Intro to FOSS, getting started in a project, using source code management
  2. History of FOSS, FOSS licensing, FOSS and the law
  3. FOSS project governance, FOSS and business, FOSS motivation
  4. Samba case study, FOSS distros and platforms, FOSS culture
  5. Starting a new project, FOSS tales, release early/often

The Lab work included:

  1. Install a FOSS project (a2ps), contribute to one of 5 suggested projects
  2. Finding a FOSS project, getting in touch
  3. Project work
  4. Project work
  5. Video presentation on the experience

I asked if this really needed to be a grad level course, and if it could be taught as an undergraduate course to teach some FOSS skills a bit earlier in the student’s academic career. Tridge answered that he thinks this could be a 2nd or 3rd year course, easily. After they taught the course, they found Greg DeKoenigsberg’s Teaching Open Source course.

What can you do? Approach your local uni! Drop a line to a FOSS friendly lecturer. Help with the TOS textbook. See:

The most entertaining, hilarious talk of the day was about the World’s Worst Inventions, by Paul Fenwick (in a mad scientist costume). This talk is brought to you from the L.O.O.N.I.E.S. the League Of Overambitious New Inventors, Engineers and Scientists. The presentation was a series of funny old ads things like cocaine pills for headaches, asthma cigarettes (not for children under 6 years old). There were some great slides on really bad toys. The feed-me cabbage patch, from 1996, had one-way metal rollers in the mouth of these dolls. They came with some plastic, fake food. But when the food ran out, refills were expensive. So kids fed this dolls all sorts of things. Particularly, hair, fingers, and siblings. These were the ultimate zombie dolls 🙂

Anyone remember melty beads? My sisters had these things that could be melted into keychains. Rather than using heat, Bindeez used water to fuse together. Unfortunately, they replaced one chemical with another that was 10x cheaper. The problem was that the cheaper chemical was actually GHB (yup, Liquid Ecstasy). Kids nibbled on the beads and were entertained for hours before being pulled from the market.

In the ’50s, good parents could buy the Atomic Energy Lab for their enterprising young scientists, complete with a Geiger counter and, with real uranium samples!

The image that brought the house down was US Patent #4320756, Fresh-Air Breathing Method and Device. Yikes!!!

And finally, a modern one you can buy straight off of Amazon.com today, the Laptop Steering Wheel Desk.

What a great talk, and a nice way to end a highly technical day.

There was a showing of Code Rush there at the conference–the story of Mozilla opening their code. The movie itself is a free download under the Creative Commons, so I downloaded it, and I’ll watch it later, perhaps on my flight home.

Instead, I attended a screening of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones at the Embassy Theatre. This was poignant for a few reasons. Wellington, being the home town of Peter Jackson, and also being the Hollywood of New Zealand, a good bit of the movie was produced here. My new friends at Weta Digital did the digital effects rendering for the film (again, on a 5,000 node Ubuntu server farm). And the Embassy Theatre is phenomenal! Huge seats (with brass name placards on each), a perfect screen, perfect sound, very fancy.

Finally, I submitted a few more images for today’s Photo Competition, of the Waterfront quadrant. For your enjoyment …