Ottawa Linux Symposium preview

by Andy Oram

The Ottawa Linux Symposium is the primary forum for discussions about the future of Linux. If you think of most boating conferences as being for yachtsmen, the Ottawa Linux
Symposium is like a conference for the people who design and build hulls.

Right now, most people (those not mesmerized by their own laptops) are huddled in small groups in the common area, murmuring informally about obscure technical topics. It seems appropriate that the conference should start, not with the keynote, but with Working Groups, which are small groups in conference rooms murmuring informally about obscure technical topics.

Yet I gave up the chance to attend this year's O'Reilly conference on Open Source to be here, and as the days go by I will be trying (hampered by a buggy Mozilla interface) to derive some meaning for the wider public in the creations that emerge here.

People seem to be relaxing here in Ottawa in relief from the heat found in the U.S., of both the meteorological and the legal kind. I have already held an intense discussion with an O'Reilly author and given my card to someone who wants to be one. The first author, Karim Yaghmour, explained to me why Linux has succeeded where Windows failed in spanning the range of systems from a wristwatch to a high-availability server. Essentially, the very aspect of Linux and Open Source that creates a frustrating exprience for current users--the semi-random agglomeration of software components from many different projects--also gives it the beautiful flexibility that enables different system integrators to assemble the precise system they need. Furthermore, Karim said, Linux was pulled into new platforms and domains by people who wanted to make it work, rather than being pushed into such domains as Windows was pushed by Microsoft.

I have also arranged a massive give-away of O'Reilly books (including our new edition of Linux Device Drivers) as part of a raffle held by AMD at a welcome reception this evening.