The 2004 Ottawa Linux
is now history. OLS has, once again, proved itself to be one
of the leading development conferences worldwide. By many accounts, this
was one of the best years yet. This view is supported by the standing
ovation given to conference organizer Andrew Hutton at the end.
This year, OLS expanded to fill a larger part of the Ottawa Conference
Center, to good effect; the extra space was appreciated by all. AMD
sponsored an opening reception featuring a talk by author Jim Munroe;
unfortunately, in your editor's opinion, Mr. Munroe's speeches are not as
interesting as his books. He characterized Linux as being a response to
Microsoft, rather than something valuable in its own right, and he thought
that his audience, full of IBM, SGI, AMD, Intel, Novell, etc. employees,
would be interested in a lecture on the evils of corporate power. The
closing reception, held at the newly-expanded Black Thorn, was as
successful as ever - to the obvious regret of the crowd of hungover developers
on the airport shuttle the next morning.
Kernel developer Andrew Morton was this year's keynote speaker. He called
for unifying the kernels shipped by the distributions, and asked that
distributors work toward getting their patches into the mainline quickly. He
acknowledged that some distributors see kernel enhancements as part of the
value they can add, but asked those distributors to find some other way to
provide value to their customers. Fragmenting the kernel may be within the
rights granted by the license, he said, but he sees it as being bad for the
long-term future of Linux. He warned these distributors that he would
actively work to undermine that strategy.
Andrew spent much of his time on the advantages of having a community-run
platform upon which to build products, noting that "system software" is
often where free software is most successful. He urged developers working
on kernel code - drivers or new features - to get their code into the
kernel early, so that it can benefit from the community process. He also
acknowledged the community's debt to Richard Stallman.
Andrew finished by noting that, while Linux tends to enter companies from
the bottom, it does not stay there. And neither do the people who brought
in Linux in the first place. Some of them eventually get promoted into
management, which helps the process along. "World domination," says
Andrew, "is proceeding according to plan."
Along those lines, it is worth noting that the mix of attendees was a
little different this year. The core of developers which defines OLS was
as strong as ever, but, on the edges, one could see a fair number of
management types, representatives from technical companies worldwide, and
members of the press. The visibility of this conference, in other words,
is growing beyond the developer community that it serves.
(LWN's coverage from a few OLS talks can be found below. The slides from LWN editor Jonathan Corbet's
talk (on what to expect from kernel development in the next year) are
available for the curious.)
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