Your editor has, once again, had the opportunity to add to his collection
of Ottawa Linux Symposium T-shirts. OLS2006 was a fun and interesting
event, a testament to the increasing professionalism of its organizers,
speakers, and attendees. And also, of course, to the energy and vitality
which drives the Linux community.
Interesting things can be seen by looking at the the people who attend an
event like this one. Not that long ago, the preferred attire was a shirt
from a Linux event - the older, the better. While those shirts are still
very much in evidence, shirts of the button-down variety are on the rise.
Fortunately, there are still very few neckties to be seen (James Bottomley
- next year's OLS keynote speaker - being the exception that proves the rule
in this regard). There were also quite a few attendees who had clearly
made the trip from Asia.
LinuxWorld may be the place to go to see what companies are doing, but OLS
has clearly established itself as the event to attend to learn about what
the development community - and the kernel development community in
particular - is up to.
This year's schedule reveals
some things about what the community is interested in. Virtualization
remains a hot topic, but the emphasis has changed: Xen, the king of
paravirtualization, was well represented, but was far from the whole
story. Ian Pratt's Xen talk was held in one of the smaller rooms this
year. The hotter topic appeared to be containers - lightweight
virtualization which runs under the same kernel as the host. There is a
lot of development activity around containers at the moment, and many of
the people involved were at OLS to talk about it.
schedule featured exactly one filesystem talk - an update on ext3.
This year, a quick scan shows no less than nine filesystem talks, plus a
few on related topics (shared subtrees, for example). Expect to see some
interesting development work in the filesystems area in the coming years.
This year's keynote speaker was Greg Kroah-Hartman. Greg has posted the text
of his talk along with the slides; it is such a clear representation of
what was said that your editor sees no point in writing up a separate
summary. The talk covered topics like hardware support (Linux is now
second to none, says Greg), the illegal and unethical nature of closed
source kernel modules, various aspects of the kernel development process,
and more. The talk is very much worth a read.
For those who have not seen the article by Arjan van de Ven mentioned in
Greg's talk: Arjan's doomsday
scenario is also worth reading.
For the curious, the slides from
LWN editor Jonathan Corbet's talk are available.
OLS has always been a kernel-oriented event, and the 2006 version was
perhaps the most kernel-heavy yet. A look at the schedule shows almost no
non-kernel talks - and most of the exceptions were concerned with the git
and mercurial source control systems. The Desktop Developers' Conference
was held immediately before OLS (at the same time as the Kernel Summit),
but speakers from that conference did not speak at OLS. Their
presence was very much felt, however, and there were some good
conversations held between developers responsible for various levels of the
full Linux system. Next year, however, it would be nice to hear more from the
desktop people at OLS.
The fact that such a small complaint is the first that comes to mind speaks
loudly. OLS remains a top-notch technical conference with
interesting speakers, good organization (even the traditionally late final
keynote almost started on time this year), great conversations, and
a murderous closing party. The annual Ottawa pilgrimage remains an
important event for many in the development community.
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