FOSDEM 2008

Today has been the traditional “recover from FOSDEM” day. There’s so much packed into three days that a fourth is sensible to recover from it!A lot of people I spoke to said they thought this year was busier than ever. It certainly seemed manically busy, but then it always does! I think I went to fewer talks this year than previously, as there just seemed to be fewer that interested me. Despite this I completely failed to get to any of the Ruby on Rails talks as I spent the time around the exhibition tables and working on a “special secret project.”

Friday saw the annual beer event. It was at the Delirium Cafe this year, which was absolutely packed. It’s a nice venue but probably too small for the number of people trying to get in. I wussed out early but some of our party were still going strong at 3am. They were less “strong” the following morning though. 😉

The most interesting talks I saw were on the Saturday, although not the three keynotes which were all rather unsatisfying having all somehow failed to tackle the really interesting parts of their subjects. The two I really appreciated were from the Fedora/CentOS room. As I don’t use either product, it says something about the strength of the programme in that room that I was there. Who knows, I might actually use one of them one day! 🙂 “SE Linux: Don’t just switch it off” was a useful insight to what SE Linux can actually do you for. Fedora/RHEL/CentOS seem to have made a good job of the management tools in recent releases too. I’m not sure how easy it would be to manage on a headless remote system but using the stock rules as a base seems to be the way to go. Pluggable monitoring with dstat was a useful look at a flexible tool. Showing all sorts of system performance measures in one screen and with highly flexible layout options I’m sure it will come in handy for debugging performance problems one day soon.

Sunday lunchtime saw the CACert and GPG keysigning. My main priority was the CACert part. I already had 25 points and wanted to get up to 100 so I can start generating server SSL certificates.* I only checked a couple of IDs for GPG and have decided that I probably don’t want to take part in any really large GPG key-signings like those at FOSDEM. I don’t mind smaller ones or individuals, but the administration of doing twenty, fifty or a hundred keys puts me off, even with some of the scripts available to help.

I spent an hour or so chatting with Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group on Sunday afternoon, and a couple of hours hanging out with “the bald” Ade Bradshaw as we failed to see two talks we were interested in. But I learnt interesting stuff about VoIP so it’s all good. 🙂

The journey back was long and quite a bit of hassle thanks to engineering works on the underground and between Waterloo and Woking. One of our party failed to make the Eurostar having mistaken the arrival time on his ticket for the departure time. Another person left his bags on the train at Southampton by mistake and got back on it just in time for the doors to shut and the train to pull away. But I’ve also found out that he has won a Nokia N810 in the donator’s draw. Lucky git!

Photos are in the gallery.

* By the time I got back to the UK I had already been assured up to 100 thanks to the folks I met at FOSDEM. Good work people! I’m now listed as an assurer in the Southampton area on the CACert website, so I’m waiting for my first request. This may also be something that we could do at a LUG meeting now there are three or four assurers in the LUG.

Oh, and my phone worked just fine thanks. In fact, it magically changes the desktop wallpaper depending on which country you’re in. In the UK it shows the Houses of Parliament, but it changed in France and Belgium


That is both quite exciting and totally pointless. I suspect that it has a bank of images installed in ROM but can’t be sure it’s not downloading the image over the data connection in each country. I can’t help wondering what images it has for other countries! I think the image on the Belgium wallpaper is of the palace in Brussels, but some of the details on the image didn’t tally when we went past the actual palace.

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