AlexJ's Computer Science Journal

LinuxCon Europe 2013 – part 3

The third day of LinuxCon Europe was, probably, the most awaited because of the star guest: Linus Torvalds.

The father of Linux sat down for the morning keynote answering questions from the moderator and the public. Video online. First question was about what makes a good Linux kernel maintainer. And he answered very nice and mature, not even touching the technical requirements, but stressing the fact that it’s about being responsible. The Linux Kernel needs people that are not just involved for their purpose, but people that have the trust of the community. It needs responsible people that make the best decisions for the project and for the community.

At least in his opinion, Linux is complete as an operating system for years now, because it has everything he needs (I think he wanted to point out that for a long time Linux is mature). But new features are constantly coming to the kernel that that is both good and amazing. Of course, there is always new hardware that needs to be supported.

One interesting question from the audience was about how to get (educate) hardware vendors to do open source. And I think Linus answered awesome by saying that people shouldn’t go around and making  people use open source. People should use open source because it’s fun and it works, and it’s almost pointless to try to put effort to convince people of  that. The best way is to let them figure that out for themselves, and if they find out it’s also good for them, they should use it and we should help them out in that.

Of course, there was the question about why Linux isn’t doing that great on the desktop. Linus pointed to the fact that there is a lot of rivalry amongst desktop protects, but the fight is for the wrong reasons. Rather than just make login screens nicer, they should focus what users actually need: a reliable desktop experience. The Steam and its Linux based OS subject was touched and Linus was optimistic about it. He hopes that will do good for the Linux Desktop market. Linus was actually optimistic about most things, including getting new developers for places like Asia or bringing more women into the dev community.

An interesting question was about what would happen if Linus would retire and when could that be. This is a similar question to “what would happen if Linus gets hit by a bus”. It looks like the Linux Foundation took steps in that direction, an Jim Zemlin said they made a life insurance for Linus. But Linus gave a similar answer: the community would go on even without him. Although he did say that he is still very much useful to the Linux project (less for the technical part but more for his image, as he sadly admitted), if he would retire, there are a lot of developers that could take over his responsibilities.   But he didn’t give any names. As for the moment when he would retire by him self, he said that it’s either when he won’t be able to do his tasks or he won’t find it interesting any more.  But now, neither of that has happened, so thins go on as normal.

The next and final keynote was about  “Living in a Surveillance State” by Mikko Hypponen. Although the video was not posted online by the Linux Foundation, you can find the same presentation at a TED event.

This day was also personally important, because it was the day  I had my own presentation at LinuxCon. I gave a talk about how our education system could benefit from values of open source. How small communities can spark new ideas and projects that could help spread knowledge and how can open education be more efficient in the modern world.

The forth day was dedicated to the Gluster community. The next days also hosted events like Linux Automotive and Embedded Linux conferences, but, personally I didn’t attend.

And that wrapped up LinuxCon Europe 2013. Is was a very interesting experience and it was nice to be in a place surrounded by technical people that see the value of open source. It was not gathering of idealists or outcasts meeting to talk about how the rest of the world is wrong. It was a gathering of people that see potential in the idea of Linux and Open Source and want to collaborate with similar people to bring new and good things to the world.

There were some things that I expected but didn’t happen. One was to see more Android and ChromeOS things, so I was kind of disappointed of Google’s presence (or lack of )  at the conference. But more surprised was the lack of presence of Valve and SteamOS. At LinuxCon North America, Valve announced that they were betting big on Linux and I was expecting that LinuxCon Europe would be the place where they would announce SteamOS (still waiting for that). Apparently Valve is just focusing on the US for now.

Overall, I really enjoyed the atmosphere there and I hope to attend the conference in the next years too.  LinuxCon Europe 2014 is rumoured to take place in Germany (I was hoping for Vienna). Hope I’ll be able to go. Until then, I’m proud to be a member of the Linux Foundation and I wil be enjoying my email.

That’s a wrap.


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