Japan Linux Symposium
Your editor, having actually managed to spend a few weeks at home, once
again succumbed to the allure of long-distance travel. What is life, after
all, without jet lag, economy-class seats, and airline meals? The excuse
this time was the combination of the Linux Foundation's
and the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum's Korea
. Both events are intended to increase
communications with the Asian technical community and encourage
participation in the development process. They are also an opportunity for
developers from other parts of the world to learn more about what their
colleagues are thinking.
This trip was your editor's second Japanese adventure, so it is interesting
to look at what has changed over the intervening 16 months. The
organization of the event remains about the same, down to the
pizza-and-sushi party at the end of the first day. The agenda was more
heavily oriented toward filesystems this time around, along with an
overview of control group resource controllers by Hiroyuki Kamezawa. There
was a big difference, though, in how the discussions went. Japanese
audiences are notoriously quiet and unwilling to ask questions, but the
attendees at the Japan Linux Symposium have gotten over this constraint.
Questions and discussion abounded - and this is a good thing. Free
software development does not work well if people are unwilling to ask
questions or raise concerns. The fact that Japanese developers seem to be
becoming more willing to participate in this way bodes well for their
participation in the process as a whole.
How much are these developers participating now? Your editor did a quick
and unscientific pass over the changes merged for the 2.6.28 kernel. It
appears that a full 5% of those patches came from Japanese developers. If
we exclude the work of one prolific developer who currently lives in Europe, it
can be said that about 4% of 2.6.28 came from Japan itself. There has been a
distinct increase in the amount of kernel code coming from that part of the
world, and that can only be a good thing. The Linux Foundation's events in
Japan (which began in the OSDL days and have been occurring regularly for a
few years now) are, perhaps, producing the intended result.
Partly in recognition of the larger role now played by Japan in the free
software community, the Japan Symposium will be taken to a higher level
next year. The 2009 Kernel Summit will be held in Tokyo in October,
followed by an expanded, three-day Symposium hosting talks by developers
from all over the world. Planning for this event is just getting underway;
expect the call
for papers to come out early next year. It should be an interesting
gathering in a fun city; your editor is already looking
forward to attending.
The Korea Technical Jamboree was a lower-key gathering, held for a single
afternoon on the 25th floor of a Seoul skyscraper. It lacked some of the
infrastructure of the Japan Symposium (simultaneous translation, for
example), but made up for it in enthusiasm. Your editor found a
highly-engaged group of developers interested in talking about the
technology. While much of the discussion was, surprisingly enough, in
Korean, your editor was able to figure out that virtualization is high on
the list of topics that this group was interested in.
There was also talk of business models and more. What there was less of,
though, was talk of working with the community. From this brief encounter,
your editor can guess that the Korean community is still working through
the stage of figuring out what it can get from free software. Developers
there seem to have, for the most part, not yet reached the point of
sharing control of our free operating system and driving it
in directions which better suit their needs. By their own admission,
Korean developers are a little behind their Japanese counterparts in this
regard, but that situation may not last for long.
One event your editor was not able to attend was FreedomHEC Taipei, held at
the same time. Harald Welte was there, though, and posted a
I was really happy about FreedomHEC. It is really about time that
the Linux world and the Taiwan-based chipset vendors and system
integrators start much more interaction. It is a simple economic
fact that a lot of hardware development, both in the PC mainboard,
Laptop as well as the embedded device space happens in Taiwan. It
is also very true, that for whatever reason the gradual Linux
revolution in the server and desktop market in the EU, the US and
other markets such as Southern America has not really reached
Harald concludes that a higher Linux awareness in Taiwan should lead to
better hardware support worldwide. With any luck at all, events like
FreedomHEC, like those in neighboring regions, will help to create that
awareness and expand our global development community.
Your editor was also unable to attend FOSS.in
this year, despite a desire to return to that part of the world. FOSS.in
is experimenting with a new event plan which is strongly oriented toward
the production of tangible results; it has clearly been influenced by the
success of the Linux Plumbers Conference. India has vast numbers of
capable developers, relatively few of whom actively participate in our
That number has been growing, though, and events like FOSS.in have a lot to
do with that change.
Finally: while your editor saw a lot of people expressing enthusiasm
for Linux, many of them seemed to be doing it with Windows laptops. It
seems that the value of Linux has not yet made itself felt in the desktop
setting, even among those whose job it is to develop for or promote Linux.
It would be interesting to know why more of this work can't move off of
Some of the answer may be related to episodes like this: your editor had
rashly upgraded his laptop to a new stable distribution release (we'll call
it Incredibly Irritating for the purposes of this discussion) just prior to
obligatory check to ensure that video projection still worked got forgotten
this time; it had always worked before, what could go wrong this time? But
it seems that this "upgrade" moved the tools needed to interface with
RandR into a separate package, which it did not bother to install. So it
was not possible to tell the laptop to send video out the external port.
Suffice to say that, five minutes prior to giving a talk, while
disconnected from the network, one does not want to hear "you need to
install this package before I'll turn on your external video port" from
one's computer. Your editor will accept the blame for not having verified
this functionality before traveling, but, still: things like this should
Just Work, especially with a distribution which claims to have invested
much energy into making such things Just Work. The presenters using
Windows laptops were not having to contend with this kind of challenge.
That little glitch notwithstanding, this trip was a big success. The
hospitality was amazing, interest was high, and there is always value in
seeing how other groups are approaching free software. Our community
continues to grow; many good things will come from that.
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