Linux Conf Au 2009 Hobart – Day 1

January 20, 2009 Technical, General

What a feeling to be back amongst the sights, sounds and ah yes the smells of Linux Conf Au once more. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was in Melbourne enjoying the fruits of the last conference. So what does this year have to offer? I am fortunate enough to primarily enjoy presentations that also most benefit my role as a Systems Administrator. There are plenty of great presentations though on other topics such as mobile/embedded devices and multimedia. The quality is high but I don’t tend to enjoy these as much.

The first day (for me at least) offered a few ups and a few downs. “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And If So, Why?” by Paul McKenney was more of a philosophical look into the reasoning around parallel programming and despite not really diving into the “how” side of things was enjoyable.

A couple of talks on systems provisioning and automation left me desiring a bit more though. I feel like what was presented was stuff that we all should have known years ago. Still it is good for people to be pushing Kickstart and Puppet which are both worthy tools, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hunger for the next big development.

“Security-Enhanced PostgreSQL” was certainly an eye opener, but given our experiences with SELinux (around which the SEPostgreSQL project is based) lead me to believe the integration will take quite some time to be completely usable in all scenarios, and being a security product it will have to meet that criteria before it will gain widespread acceptance. Something to keep an eye on though.

The final presentation I attended was “Rails Deployment In The Enterprise” by Robert Postill. I am no developer, and both Ruby and Rails have been used worldwide with great success but somehow I have managed to avoid getting to know either of them. This presentation added fuel to the fire that is already telling everyone “if you haven’t looked into Rails yet, you really need to now” – and this is completely true.

Building web applications holds a lot in common with production line automation. We’ve really progressed beyond building the same tools and parts again and again to make websites – Rails stops the need for reinventing the wheel and I was able to appreciate that finally today. Coincidentally during the presentation I was able to create a simple blog-style app using Rails that I had been meaning to do as part of some server testing, so the impact for me was doubled. Even as a non-developer I can appreciate it, and that bodes well.

Aside from the presentations, there is a general feeling of inspiration surrounding this entire event. The air is charged with the collective intelligence and open-source passion of hundreds of enthusiasts for the same cause. I’m looking forward to not only the rest of the scheduled conference but working on problems with a fresh mind in the spare time here and being inspired to do new things.