Linux.Conf.Au - Day One

by Jes Hall

My flight from Wellington to Sydney can be easily chalked up as one of the most painful experiences of my life - alongside military service, breaking a bone, and supporting Windows 98. Things improved markedly when, after approximately three hours standing in line, my colleague and I boarded our flight from Sydney to Hobart.

We were playing spot-the-conference-attendee - a Linux cap here, a summer of code shirt there - when Linus Torvalds boarded our plane, looking a little sheepish at all the adoring stares. I ran into him again after we disembarked - standing in my way at the baggage carousel. I forgave him. After all, I've heard he's a KDE fan.

The University turned out to be a very expensive but scenic twenty minute taxi ride from the airport. Hobart is nestled in thickly forested hills with stunning ocean views. The University itself is set to a backdrop of stately Australian bush, with a view of the city and the water from my room. The accommodation is better than any year I can remember - I and four others are sharing a spacious modern apartment with a very pleasant living and kitchen area.

After a pleasant Italian meal and a good night's sleep, I started my conference experience by alternating between the Sysadmin and Kernel miniconfs. Matthew Garrett's talk 'How I learned to stop worrying and love ACPI' was entertaining and informative, as expected. I counted no less than 10 instances of the word 'magic' during his explanation of how ACPI suspend happens. After my misspent youth digging into making Linux go on laptops I fully believe him that magic is involved. Dark magic. Involving animal sacrifice. Possibly the animal operating the computer.

On the systems administration side of things, I listened to Richard Keech talk on "Rapid, repeatable provisioning of Linux systems" using the Red Hat kickstart framework. There were some very good points to this talk, but my colleagues and I agreed we thought our current methods were better. Perhaps we should get around to putting in a talk for next year's conference. Devdas Bhagat's presentation on "Automating system administration" was great, looking at the people as well as the technical aspects and discussing how to make the business case for spending time on building these frameworks. I've felt the truth of his comment in the past, that "... any sysadmin can blow up a box, but to blow up an entire bunch of machines takes a sysadmin with a configuration management system."

tassy tux

So far the highlight of the conference for me came in my schwag bag. This is my Tasmanian devil-tux. Yes, that's a penguin beak strapped on with string. He's adorable, but I confess to an uneasy feeling that he's trying to get in amongst the penguins for nefarious reasons. There's something a little too smug about that expression.

Tomorrow I plan to again alternate, this time between the Security, Systems Administration, and Virtualisation and Management miniconfs. For now, tassy-tux and I are going to go and see what happened to our pizza delivery we ordered an hour ago. He looks hungry.

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