Linus Torvalds in Sydney

Jamie Honan gives us a brief report on Linus' international visit, and the Australians' quest to impress Linus.

The Australian Unix Users' Group asked Linus to come and talk at their annual conference in Melbourne. While here in Australia, he also traveled to Canberra, Sydney, and Perth and talked at seminars organised by local Linux user groups.

I helped organise events in Sydney. We scheduled only two official events, which left Linus plenty of time to take in the local sights.

The first official function was a talk, which went quite well. Most of the 60 people who attended run Linux, and Linus was surprised at the technical depth of the questions. Although he had planned to talk for about an hour we went on for well over two. At the end of the talk, Peter Chubb presented Linus with one of his SLUG (Sydney Linux Users Group) tee-shirts. Quite leterally, this tee-shirt has a picture of a slug on it. As I said at the time, how could we give him anything that truly represented the gratitude we felt?

The day after, we went for a picnic on Shark Island in the harbour. It was also a success—the day was stunning and the harbour was awash with sailboats flying their spinakers. Lots of photos were taken; perhaps when they're developed some could be put up for ftp, so those who didn't come can live it vicariously.

On a personal level, Linus was an absolute delight to look after.

One highlight: walking past the local bowling club and explaining how the Australian variety of outdoor bowls is played.

We had been trying to impress Linus with Sydney's highlights. We all thought the opera house would do it. Linus would say, “Well, it's very nice, but I'm not really impressed.” on it went, the sunny harbour—“Yes, it's very nice;” how about holding the Koala bear—“Yes, just nice.” After a while, it got to be a little challenge, and we ribbed hime about his Northern European “never being too impressed” attitude. But we finally gave up trying to impress him, and took him to the handiest dive for a quick cheap meal: a local RSL, or veterans association, club.

Just off the retaurant was the room which holds all the poker machines (slot mahinces, or “pokies” in Aussie slang), and we had a quick look inside: a ghaslty and garish collection of brighly lit and noist machines. I was slightly embarrassed, after all the good impressions we'd been trying to make, but Linux just smiled and said, “Now I really am impressed.”

I know Linus had a good time. I just hope circumstances permit him to come back before too long. There's an old fashioned saying, and it really applies to Linus: “You couldn't meet a nicer bloke”.


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