I’ve just got back from LugRadio Live 2006 in Wolverhampton, an excellent two day event centered around Linux and Open Source.
There were around 350 people in attendance from all over the world, I saw some amazing stuff (I was mostly in the main room) so here’s a summary of what I can remember!
Linux on the PlayStation – Sarah Ewan – Sarah Ewan from Sony gave an excellent presenation on Linux on the Playstation 2/3 and the ‘Playstation2 Linux Kit’. I wasn’t aware that Sony actually produced anything to run Linux on their hardware, let alone a kit with a full Distro and Keyboard/Mouse etc, so this was a real eye opener. The kit can run a shell or a full X server (Fluxbox I think it was) and is being used by a lot of universities to get their game design students programming on real gaming hardware. She also demonstrated some games that users of the kit had produced. Some were really amazing!!
The Mass Debate – Some industry experts including Stephen Lamb from Microsoft and BBC columnist Bill Thompson held an open discussion on Linux, DRM and some other subjects. This was pretty good and I took away some good information and definately agreed with their opinion that DRM is primarily a method for ‘keeping honest people honest’ and restricting consumer choice on the whole.
OpenOffice.org – Michael Meeks – Michael seems like a strange man at first, although after you listen to him for a few minutes you realise it is just because he is just so passionate about OpenOffice and this talk was a great listen, he spent a lot of time comparing OO and the upcoming Office 12, showing where the similarities lie between the two, and also how OO is going to kick Office 12’s butt in many areas.
Bruno Bord – This talk may contain swearing – Bruno is a LugRadio fan who had come all the way from France with a talk on the use of swear words on the LugRadio show. He used a Python script to keep a database of all the swear words used in the shows, how many times they were used, and which member of the team used them. This was an hillarious talk and Bruno should be congratulated on his immense patience while cataloging the profanities over many hours of LugRadio. Great guy!
Django – Simon Willison – Simon gave the first presenation of the day in the main room on an Open Source Python CMS(ish) system he helped to develop while in the US. The system was originally written for a newspaper in Kansas to help them update and manage their site content but soon started getting used on other sites in the town such as the local sports teams and the local weather website. The project was eventually open sourced and has done pretty well in getting people to take advantage of it with the help of the community of volunteer developers. Simon gave a very confident and fun presenation and I will definately be checking out Django.
Big Challenges – Mark Shuttleworth – Mark’s talk was one of the highlights of the weekend, for those not in the know Mark is a South African entrepreneur and Linux enthusiast who created the digital certificate company Thawte which he sold to Verisign in 1999 earning himself a cool $560 Million, money he used to become the world’s second ever space tourist (and the first African in space) on board a Russian craft in 2002. Mark spoke about all the challenges Ubuntu and Linux face in order to be accepted by normal users. This covered such topics as Hardware Compatability, Universal Package Management and compatability between distro’s, translation support, and better bug tracking/management. I really enjoyed Mark’s talk and he is probably the best public speaker I have seen.
Hour Of Power – This was an hour of demonstrations from different speakers on cool projects they were involved with. This included MythTV the open source Media Centre (sort of a free Sky+ with no restrictions on what you can do with it), Linux on the NintendoDS, ‘LowFat’ which is a fancy document viewing application designed by a very funny German guy called Mirco Muller (who can also do amazing backflips!), and a man who had built a full Mame Arcade cabinet with 3000+ arcade games on it! I really enjoyed this hour as it was exciting and very fast moving!
Packaging and Autopackage – Mike Hearn – Mike and I actually met in the train station when we both went the wrong way off the platform, looking very lost. I think we realised we were going to the same place with our geeky appearences, and at the time I didn’t know Mike was a speaker at the event so it was a surprise to see his name in the programme. Anyhoo, Mike’s talk was excellent, I really learned a lot about the packaging system on Linux, which I had little knowledge of beforehand. He also spoke about viruses and malware on Windows and Linux, and definately made me think a lot about how vulnerable Linux really is despite the ‘Virus and Spyware Free’ image that some people have!
All in all I had an excellent time, met some great people, the exhibition was really informative and I had some great conversations with the exhibitors and picked up some much appreciated free stuff along with some T-Shirts, Mugs and Books and other merchandise that I purchased… I would definately recommend this event to anyone interested in computing or Linux and I will definately be attending next year! The LugRadio guys are really cool and hillarious, the show they recorded on stage was brilliant and I cant wait to see all the video they taped when it goes online!
The attendees are uploading pictures from the event to a Flickr group, which can be viewed here, I have already spotted myself on one or two!