LinuxCon Day 3: Now Get Out There and Do Something!

At the end of a conference, most people have two feelings. The first is a feeling of wanting to get out there and do something. After last year's LinuxCon, especially after listening to Noah Broadwater of Sesame Workshop, I wanted to go back to my office, take a chainsaw to my IIS installations, and tear out my Sharepoint system. But I am pretty sure that feeling is felt by many of us on a daily basis without attending LinuxCon.

What was so exciting about Sesame Workshop's presentation was, with a very small staff and even less money, they managed to create a web experience that not only reduced cost but had an average eyeball time of 27 minutes. There are sites that would give everything for 27 seconds, and here is a children-focused site with 27 minutes, primarily on Open Source software.

But, as exciting as that is, imagine you are the CIO of a new airline and are responsible for not only the web presence that includes ticketing and check-in for flights, but also in-flight entertainment. Oh, and you have a staff of 28. That was the mission of Ravi Simhambhatia of Virgin America and as you can imagine it was not an easy mission, especially when there was already an entrenched structure in place. But he took a different tack from what most would expect and rather than focus on the cost savings related to the operating system, he sold management on the reliability aspects of Open Source as well as the ability to rapidly develop solutions and improve the customer experience. And as we learned on Day 2, the bulk of the costs of any software is in the management, not the operating system. His focus was on low maintenance costs and low overhead and the ability to build fire and forget solutions that just worked. And that is exciting, especially when it is the CIO that is telling you this.

Perhaps running efficient ticketing and in-flight entertainment systems are not what gets you excited. Maybe Stormy Peters' —Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation— call to arms will. Most of us are familiar with Richard Stallman's rally cry of Free as in Freedom, not Free Beer, but how many of us pay attention to the various web services we use? In this case, I am not talking about SOAP or XML, but those services we use everyday like Gmail, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook. As Stormy points out, many of these services may be free as in free beer, but not so much so when it comes to freedom and in fact, most are as proprietary as any software we complain about coming out of Redmond or other companies in the Axis of Evil (to borrow a phrase).

In her keynote, she highlighted issues like what would you do if you lose access to your data on these systems? Or who can use your photos? Do they even need your permission? One popular social site has default settings that allow them to scoop up your information and resell it without so much as a by your leave. When it comes to these services, many of us do not pay any attention because of the convenience and because of the cost and that needs to change because right now they are giving us the free beer, and we are drinking deeply, while ignoring the hidden costs.

At the end of LinuxCon 2010, most of us left with two feelings. First, the feeling of wanting to get out there and do something. And the second? In the immortal words of Gary Larson, Teacher, can I be excused, my brain is full.

See you next year!

Sailing in Boston Harbour
Sailing in Boston Harbour


David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack


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I agree

Tony Maro's picture

Having flushed all but one Windows server (and it's tied to a piece of specialized hardware) from my network, and only having four Windows desktops left I can say the grass is truly greener on this side.

Now our entire operation runs on a PHP workflow app and other software that we wrote ourselves as the need arose. We took what I call the Lego approach - tie various open source apps together with a bit of PHP and MySQL glue.

We run 22 physical servers and 12 virtual servers. We are managing 4TB of data that grows 12+GB every day, with occasional huge spikes of 500+GB - and it's a breeze. Not to mention all the Linux desktops.

Resource and more resource...

Chetan's picture

...all that proprietary software want!

want to "performance" add resources bit it processors, memory, storage, bandwidth.

Companies like Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle are not optimizing their software at all! with inorganic growth a trend in the industry all these years. What these companies are interested when they get access to the source code change the Brand name, images (gif,jpeg,png whatever it is) and rebuild the software.

The entry level requirement for the software has risen dramatically, cause cost of hardware has decreased substantially! but baseline remains the same. You system is still slow! cause software you running taking up all the available resources and still wants more!

Thanks to mobile devices like Phones, Tablets I think companies will "think" about optimizing the software now! (how, I wish companies do same i.e. optimize software for PC, Servers etc.)

Now, now

Doug.Roberts's picture

"[...] I wanted to go back to my office, take a chainsaw to my IIS installations, and tear out my Sharepoint system."

Easy there, pardner. I'm told it's not exactly de rigueur to bash our esteemed M$ competition quite so openly...


You know...

David Lane's picture

When I came back from Window Connections, I kind of felt the same way, but that was more a case of the poor way we implemented it. There is something therapeutic in wanting to take a chainsaw to servers though. :)

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Chainsaws in the server room!

cfmcguire's picture

Unless you have a carbide chain, and they cost beaucoup bucks, you probably won't get through more than one server. I'm a 911 dispatcher, and our radios are in the server room. The radio guy says if there is a fire in the server room, make sure to put it out with a soda acid fire extinguisher...

Beagán a rá agus é a rá go maith.
Say little but say it well.

Radios in the Server Room

David Lane's picture

You are using software defined radios?!

OK, just kidding, and yes, if you do not have Halon any more, then you should use the soda acid fire extinguisher. Or do what I do, take them out to the airport burn pit and let them practice foaming them!

Now, where did I put that C-4?

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Radios in the server room

cfmcguire's picture

If we had software defined radios, we would communicate using signal flags from the station roof. We are the smallest county in Montana, and all of our electronics are in one room. It helps that our repeater is on Red Mountain, at better than 10,000 feet. Quite honestly, I don't think that there is any sort of automatic fire protection in that server room. At least the fire alarms work now, after about 6 years of ignoring them, because they were mis-installed...

Now, as for that C-4

Beagán a rá agus é a rá go maith.
Say little but say it well.

Although, in the spirit of full disclosure

Doug.Roberts's picture

I really *really* don't like Micro$oft: I find their product, their business model, their embrace and absorb modus operandi quite distasteful.

OTOH: Competition is a good thing.

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