Cruising the Carribean

If you weren't on the boat, here's what happened on Linux Lunacy II.

Our second annual Geek Cruise, Linux Lunacy II, combined master tech classes and fun shore excursions with a week-long tour of the Western Caribbean. So far, Linux Journal has sponsored two of Neil Bauman's Geek Cruises. Next year's cruise will head North, from Seattle up through Alaska's Inside Passage.

On Linux Lunacy II, more than 120 Cruisers boarded Holland America's ms Maasdam in Ft. Lauderdale on October 20, 2002, for a loop around the Western Caribbean, stopping at ports of call in Cozumel, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Sessions were held en route, with attendees gathering in meeting rooms, dining rooms, bars and theaters. The formats ranged from keynotes to lectures to master classes to Q&As. Check out the cruise photo gallery at www.linuxjournal.com/article/6420.

The speaker lineup could hardly be more top-drawer for every subject: Linus Torvalds and Ted Ts'o on Linux; Randal Schwartz on Perl; Guido van Rossum on Python and Zope; Steve Oualline on Vi and C++; Dirk Elmendorf on PHP; Greg Haerr on UI programming and embedded Linux; Eric S. Raymond on open source, hacker culture and the Zen of UNIX; Brian Carrier on forensics and Brandon Wiley on ad hoc serverless communities. I did the keynote on “How Linux Got to Be Everywhere While Nobody Was Watching”. The slides from the keynote are available on the Linux Journal web site at www.linuxjournal.com/article/6421.

The settings were friendly too. Neil provided power strips so cruisers could plug in laptops, projectors and other peripherals. He also arranged with Digital Seas to provide wireless live internet connectivity, handy for checking out URLs and doing other research while following a lecture. Each time I checked it, throughput ran around 150-250KB downstream and 85-120KB upstream. Not bad for a boat connected to the Net by a satellite 23,500 miles above the Equator.

Greg Haerr attended Ted's “More than You Ever Want to Know about Filesystems” talk, and he said it, “expanded my understanding of the key details in the design and implementation of the 2.5 kernel. In conjunction with Linus' talk, I left with insight into how the kernel guys go about making Linux superior and a better understanding of the way it's managed.”

Linus spoke three times: once in a long Q&A and two more times on panels. My ideas about the future of Linux were confirmed by Linus' talks along with other speakers' presentations on the ship. To see what we're predicting, read “What I Learned on Linux Lunacy” at www.linuxjournal.com/article/6414.

One of Linus' panels met onshore, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, with the Jamaica Linux Users Group (JaLUG). The setting was The Ruins Pub & Internet Café, which is set back in a jungle of palms and banyan trees beside a perfect waterfall.

That meeting took place early in the morning, after which most of us headed to Dunn's River Falls, which cascades for hundreds of yards over limestone boulders on its way to the sea. Dunn's is an interactive river: the idea is to climb it upstream from bottom to top. It's a little scary but a lot of fun. We probably set a new record for the number of otherwise smart people carrying digital cameras up the middle of a cascading jungle river. For a full description of all the events, see parts 1 and 2 of “Geeks on the Half Shell 2.0: Cruising the New Dominion with Linus and Friends” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6419 and www.linuxjournal.com/article/6422, respectively).

For the next cruise, we're moving the schedule up to September 13, 2003. We sail out of Seattle for Alaska's Inside Passage aboard Holland America's flagship, the Amsterdam. “It's an incredible ship”, Neil says—and he ought to know. The itinerary includes Victoria, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Hubbard Glacier.

Last year our family went on another of Neil's cruises to Alaska. The sights run from stunning to spectacular. The whole trip flanks jagged snowcapped mountains feeding the sea with rivers, streams and some of the most spectacular glaciers in the world. There's nothing quite like floating next to the business end of a glacier for half a day, watching huge hunks of it “calve” off into icebergs the size of buildings. And that's just what you do on the boat. The shore excursions include helicopter trips, dog sledding...all kinds of fun stuff.

Commitments so far suggest there's a good chance Neil will sell out early this year. Visit the Geek Cruises site www.geekcruises.com to find out more.

Doc Searls (doc@ssc.com) is senior editor of Linux Journal.

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Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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