[Gentoo] OSCON summary

I had a great time at OSCON. As you’ll see in what others say about it, the most valuable part is the “hallway track” — who you talk to and what you do outside of the sessions. I talked with so many people that I’m not going to spend the effort mentioning everyone’s names. Both the Gentoo lunch on Wednesday and the X lunch Thursday were fantastic, as well as the Wednesday night OSL party. At each of them, I reconnected with old friends and met new ones, all of whom were great to talk with.

Here’s quick summaries of the sessions I attended. If you feel like looking up who led them, here’s the schedule.

State of the Linux Kernel
A fun, Q&A-based session. Greg KH walked in with no preconceived notions of what to talk about, and the interplay between him and the lively audience kept things going.

Simple Guide to Linux File Systems
A user-oriented introduction to which file systems to pick for which workloads. There is no “best” file system, but there are different bests for different use cases. The most interesting part? When speed is needed, consider ext2, especially on read-only systems such as some embedded devices. Also, stop using jffs2 on current flash — it has write-balancing built in, so certain parts won’t wear out faster than others. Consider ext2/3 or minix instead for RAM disk use.

Getting Started in Linux Kernel Development
This talk would be much more useful to people not already involved in open-source development. I was hoping for an intro to kernel work for someone like me, but I didn’t fit the intended audience. Still, it was a good talk, and the last 5-10 minutes were new to me too.

Lightning States Of
This was the 15-project series of 5-minute lightning talks that I took part in. The project list was quite diverse, ranging from SQLite to Gentoo to OpenSolaris to Java and back to databases with MySQL and PostgreSQL, closing out with a wild five minutes about the kernel by Greg KH and his daughter. Under-attended, but wonderful.

Marketing to Dilbert: How to Invite Developers Into Your Project
Amusingly, 90% of the audience was developers rather than business people, quite the reverse of what was expected. A fun paraphrase: “My entire MBA is these three things: sales, tactics and strategy.” We spent no more than three minutes. The most intriguing part for me was creating a business using open source, and the key point here was, “How do I generate sustainable revenue?” I added the emphasis, because you need to think about ongoing revenue and how to get one-time customers to keep coming back. Another important quote: “Understand the market better than your competition.”

State of the Desktop Infrastructure
What is “desktop infrastructure,” you ask? In this case, it’s X, the underlying graphical core beneath your GTK+ and Qt. A solid, concise talk on some changes since the transition to the X.Org Foundation, the new eye candy, and some upcoming changes related to Xgl and such. The last half-hour or so was discussion, since a number of X experts were there to answer questions in their respective areas.

OSS Project Press Relations
An outstanding talk, again under-attended because it’s the last talk of the day. I typed pages and pages of notes from this talk, which I plan to apply to Gentoo’s PR. Soon, I’ll post my notes to the gentoo-pr mailing list for discussion and commit them to CVS in proj/en/pr/. Before this talk, the file systems one was the most useful, but this one stole the trophy.