OSCON: Friday

by Dru Lavigne

Related link: http://conferences.oreillynet.com/os2005/

On Friday, I actually had a chance to attend some sessions.
The first was on women in Open Source. It was chaired by Danese Cooper whom I met at the Ottawa Open Source Weekend a few years back. I hadn't realized she had left Sun for Intel this past March.

This was an interesting panel of 6 senior women in Open Source as well as a male research associate whose thesis is on this topic. The reasons for the low percentage of women in Open Source projects were explored and included the educational/cultural bias against young girls in math and harrassment by male peers. It was also noted that women are involved in Open Source, but rarely as developers (which until recently have received most of the spotlight). Instead, they're involved in education, documentation and managerial roles, meaning they're much more visible in a corporate environment. Even in the panel of 6 women, over half had engineering degrees and had started out as coders but only one still coded for a living--the rest had moved on to managerial roles. It was suspected that this hidden element of involved women would become much more visible as Open Source continues to integrate into the mainstream corporate environment.

The next session was led by 3 people deeply involved in the European Software Patents issue. It was interesting to hear an inside view regarding the politics, mini-defeats and mini-victories over this issue. Here's a summary of the current situation in Europe. As Michael Tiemann noted, even when it looks like you didn't get what you wanted, you still have an impact.

For the final session, Nat Torkington gave away several prizes (including a Gibson guitar) and even managed to bonk a few people in the head as he threw (much lighter) swag into the audience. This was followed by Miguel de Icaza's demonstration of the features in the upcoming release of Suse as well as the now-leaked OpenSuse.

Probably the coolest feature was the ability to rotate between desktops. Visualize your desktops as a cube and the ability to use your mouse to rotate to the desired part of the cube.

So, now I'm all jazzed up for next year's OSCON and will do things a bit differently. For one, I'll leave much earlier--probably Sunday morning--and I'll go straight to Vancouver and bypass Toronto. Second, I'll attend as many sessions as I can on the non-exhibit hall days as well as give the tutorials a try. And, yes, I hope to have another BSD booth next year.