OS04 -- Report

The OS04 started quite early: with the ringing of my alarm clock at 4 in the morning. Granted, I could have gone there later, but then I'd have missed the keynote from Jon "Maddog" Hall. And that would have been a really bad idea. Jon came just in time to start his talk on time at 9:30. It was a presentation on a comparison of Free Software hackers with amateur artists. The lines he draw and the anecdotes on his first meeting with Linus Torvalds kept the audience more than just only interested.

Noone dared to interrupt him, not even while he used three times as long as he was planed to speak. And I guess noone really cared anyway... The rest of the day the tracks (three side by side) were all delayed by an hour through that.

I put up my stuff on some table, Michael Prokop told me that I can run a booth, but I didn't know that I'd be the only one. So I just put up the LinuxTag DVDs I was sent with the stickers and the flyers there and a little tray for the people to put donations in and told them to pick what they like and dip what they want. It worked quite well, and there were quite few who really asked some stuff. I also had some of the Ayo73 posters left which the people were quite interested in, of course.

There were a lot of interesting talks, and for the first time I found the guts to not care for the booth all the time (I from time to time checked for the donations to not have too much lying there) but also visit some of the very interesting talks. First has been a talk on The Gimp. I play a bit around with The Gimp myself, but the practical presentation with nice examples showed some of the more interesting features.

Dr. Klaus Schmaranz also had a really interesting talk: "Quality Criteria in Software Projects". He explained it with practical references to some projects he was involved with. The room was breaking full, and I really can just recommend to anyone with the chance to visit one of his talks. I'm really looking forward to his documents, although they'll lose without his talk next to it but still contain the interesting facts and ideas.

Later then it was time for my own talk. It was about the Debian Project and how it works, and I guess the people were interested. One person was especially interested in the Custom Debian Distributions (CDD) because he played with the thought of starting with Debian Enterprise but didn't know that it already existed. He also asked about if there are some Debian Developers which are well known (within the Debian world) like Maddog is in the general Linux community. Named a few, won't name them here or some might kick me for naming them but not the others....

I'm a bit sad that I couldn't visit the talk at the same time which covered "Extreme Programming". What one is hearing about it is that its approach is really helpful.

After this Michael Prokop had his talk about grml — Knoppix for System Administrators. We (yes, I'm part of the grml team) released version 0.1 on the event and from the feedback we got so far the interest for such a version is quite interesting. It got KDE and OpenOffice removed but added LaTeX, zsh as default shell and quite some system administrator stuff and geek tools. Quite some text based tools and lightweight window managers. grml longs especially for accessibility support because our dear Mario Lang from the Debian Accessibility CDD was fed up by the not real existent support for blind users in Knoppix. The current support in grml isn't much better because this is the first release, but we plan to enhance it quite much.

The day ended with the talk about "A.N.D.I.", a quite interesting project for architects, to cooperate and collaboration of not only architects but also with different other professions. Unfortunately due to the one hour delay it was quite late already and the audience wasn't really there anymore, we were three people watching a quick explanation of the project. And I must say: it was a really pity for those not having watched it because it was terrific what they produced already, and the potential that might be hidden in this project. Unfortunately it is written in java, but well, nothing is perfect... Maybe it works with kaffe.

A long day it was, and a really interesting one. Am looking forward for the OS05 next year, really. But the most funny thing that happened was while I am in the train writing this report on my way home: Another traveller with which I shared the train compartment said to me while I already started writing this and before he left the train: "Know what? You remind me of Schiele, because you're an artist and also tall and slim..." And I guess Maddog is after all right: Hacking is comparable to art.
(I guess he was rather referring to the poster roll I was taking with me instead of my hacking, but you know: there are no coincidences.)

Gerfried Fuchs