LinuxWorld Convention & Expo Summer 2001


New format

A few words about the new look if you've seem some of my prior reports of Linux Events, this report looks different.
The reasons are as follows:


Linuxworld this year

I haven't been going to the linuxworlds in New York since they've typically been too close to or conflicted with other events (like the excellent in Autralia this year)
Last year, if you remember, Linuxworld was still in San Jose in the convention center. As it was a great success, it grew beyond the available booth space, some talks had to be given across the street for space reasons and the president of IDG announced that this year, we'd have to go to Moscone in San Francisco.
What he didn't know (and neither did we) is that we'd have an economy downturn, that many startups would close in the following year and that overall, companies didn't have that much money or many money at all to spend and go to linuxworld (I addition to the free booth space at the .org pavilion, I heard that at least one company only went there because they were given the booth space for free.
As a result, we only used a small portion of Moscone, making the whole use of it a waste, especially because that portion of Moscone didn't have conference rooms that were big enough and we had to go to the Marriott hotel, a few minutes away, to go to any conference or keynote, and it got real old real fast (I think, the second day, I walked back and forth a total of 6 times and it made hoping to the conference floor for 10mn between two conferences not possible)
I obviously do not have access to IDG's financials, but my guess is that they may not have broken even, or if they did it was probably not by that much.
Of course, it was a bit sad to see this and compare it to last year's show, but to most visitors, it probably still looked like a decent show. Also, this isn't really linux specific, most tradeshows have been hit similarly because companies can't spend the unreasonable amounts of money they used to spend in the past.

Since the first two days of Linuwrold were really a couple of days of tutorials and the conferences and showfloor really opened on tuesday, I'll refer to tuesday as the first day and wednesday the second. Thursday was the last day, and developer conferences ended on wednesday, so it didn't really seem worth going.

Day 1 Keynote: Linux Throughout the Enterprise - Ready or Not?

I skipped the first days of the show (sunday and monday), which only had tutorials, and after only a few hours of sleep after finishing my linux10 report, I got up at some insane hour (06:25), to catch the Caltrain to San Francisco (it's actually slower than a car, but if you factor in parking and aggravation in traffic jams, it's a livable alternative) and catch the first keynote.
Shane Robinson, CTO of Compaq, gave a keynote on the state of affairs with the internet and linux, and gave a little insight to what Compaq was doing.



He explained that we had had a decade of technological advancement and it was a decade of tremendous growth for the internet

A few numbers and points he gave were:

He then gave some examples of linux uses and mentioned Korean Air, which uses linux for their flight scheduling and ticket managemen and went on to list the current challenges he saw with linux: Shane then explained that Compaq has contributed to making linux more ready for big enterprises in the following ways:

He gave an impressive demo of an Ipaq running linux with a camera and a wireless LAN card running and roaming with mobile IPv6 between two wireless networks while broadcasting video back to the server.


Then, we had a demo of a Compaq Proliant server running oracle application clusters, and adding/removing a node from the running cluster while it is running the database.

Conference: 2.4 Kernel Scalability Features

Larry Woodman, technical director of kernel engineering at mission critical linux gave a talk on 2.4 kernel scalability features.


The improvements on he listed were:

Conference: JFS for linux

Steve Best, senior software engineer at IBM gave us an update on JFS


The goal is to merge JFS in the official 2.5.x tree when it opens up and backport it in 2.4, which would hopefully make it available in linux 2.4 in a few months

JFS is proven FS technology (it's been in AIX for 10 years), and is been rebuilt from the ground up in 1995. Because of the shared code base, it is capable of mounting partitions from OS/2
The features of JFS are as follows:

Evolution of the code and current status:

Steve has good hopes that it will be included in distributions soon as it's easy to add (it doesn't require a massive kernel patch like XFS does)

Feature Presentation: Golden Penguin Bowl

Like previous years, Nick Petreley organized the penguin bowl


I didn't get to take many pictures or write down many of the questions since I was a judge for the event, and I couldn't be on both sides of the stage, nor could I really take pictures and take notes
The short version is that the Nerds won and that Nick has to debug his gameshow software :-)


If you want a few of the questions, here are some (I'll let you research the answers):

Video, Graphics, DVR/PVR -> Scaling linux to 1024 CPUs the easy way

I was then eagerly looking forward the PVR on linux talk but the speaker never showed up, so after waiting for about half an hour, I gave up and happened to recognize Larry McVoy's voice coming from an adjacent room, so I went to join his talk in progress, because even though I didn't know what the topic was about, Larry is always most entertaining to listen to :-) (for those who don't know him, in addition to being entertaining, and not afraid to voice his opinions, he is actually quite knowledgeable on many topics).
It turns out he was giving the "Scaling linux to 1024 CPUs the easy way" talk, which from anyone else might have been boring, but not with him as a speaker :-)

He explained how companies have in the past modified their kernels to have very granular locks were all wrong (he's worked at both Sun and SGI)
Not only is it hard to make a kernel very modular, but as you add more locks to remove the contention on each individual lock, you make the kernel more bloated and complex, and especially you slow down the common case as those locks have to be taken every single time a function is called (also, on a hardware level, on most architectures, taking a lock is expensive and causes bus contention)

Larry's solution to this problem is not to try to scale an OS to many CPUs, but to run multiple instances of the OS on the hardware and setup some ways for them to communicate (a principle somewhat similar to RT Linux where linux runs as the lowest priority task under an RTOS, except that in this case you'd have several linux tasks)

That was a definitely a novel approach, and Larry is looking for coders if you're interested in helping.

No Parties

At first, it was almost hard to believe: a linuxworld night without a party, but really, it made sense: many companies didn't even have the money to have a presence at all at the show, and the ones that did come didn't have the money to blow away on big parties like the two previous years.
There were a one or two private parties (more small receptions I guess), but easy to get to (most of the people "in the know" that I talked to ended up doing nothing that evening)

Day 2 Keynote: The New New Old War

Rob Scheschareg introduced Professor Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford.



He gave a talk about the lawyer that he "produces" and what they've been doing recently.
Professor Lessig first explained the differences between free and controlled media, as far as the content is concerned and the physical layer is concerned. For the internet, the physical layer is controlled, but the content is either free or controlled.

By regulation, phone companies are not allowed to discriminate on the content that travels on phone lines.
However, on cable companies, there is no such law and they are allowed to decide what travels on their cables, discriminate traffic, favor some streams or protocols over other ones.

He then obviously mentioned the DMCA and the fact that content providers and the government are now able to scare people off from writing code that doesn't fit with their agenda (the Dmitry case was an obvious example)

He explained that they have the upper hand now, and either ignoring them because we have better things to do, or in disgust, or trying to work around it by building free networks or products that can't be stopped, just isn't the right way to go. We need to fight the actual laws: it's not alright that guns can be sold whether they are used for defence or used to kill a policeman but that one can be put in jail for 25 years for writing code that is a threat to companies that are behind the DMCA
Napster had to garantee that 100% of the content being traded through their system didn't violate copyrights and had to shut down. Xerox doesn't have to garantee that their copy machines aren't used for copyright violation.

Professor Lessig concluded that we have to do something about the situation, either by talking to politicians, by marching, or at the very least, by supporting people who are doing so by supporting the EFF.

IDG Linus Torvalds Community award



The money this year goes to the free standards group for all the work they've done.
Scott Mcneil thanked a few people, including Daniel Quinlan for working on bases for the LSB for close to 9 years, Alan Cox (for the logo) and Bruce Perens (who started the LSB)

We should also thank IDG for giving money back to the community with the two money awards they gave.

Advances in video capture and digital video under linux


Frank Hum gave an overview of the video support available under linux, from tuner cards with BTTV chipsets to video formats with encoding like DivX.
For digital video, he recommends recent CPUs (1GHz or better), and you also get good use of the SSE or 3Dnow instructions.
For video editing, you have mainactor for $100 or Broadcast 2000 which is open source
He also mentionned a program called VCR lets you use a linux machine as a PVR and encode programs to Dvix with avifile (poor man's Tivo, except that it ends up costing more than a Tivo :-) )

Feature Presentation: The state of Open Source

Larry introduced the speakers of his panel, the state of open source: Linus Torvalds, Brian Behlendorf, Jeremy Allison and Dirk Honel


Some of the questions and points they addressed were:
What was the biggest thing in open source that happened in the last year?
Linus has been impressed with KDE, which he switched to this past year after it went past the eye candy stage to a stage where you have office applications
Brian has been impressed with how big companies, including microsoft have responded to open source
For Jeremy, the 2.4 kernel actually is the most important thing we've had in the last year, bring linux to the enterprise level.
Dirk does see the applications as the important part. The fact that LSB 1.0 was released is the most important part for him so that we can start solving the incompatibilities between distributions.
How about microsoft calling the GPL a threat to the capitalism?
Jeremy answered: "so what? and the problem is?" :-)
Dirk thinks that the GPL being a threat is actually a good thing as it drives competitors to innovate.
Linus explained that for him Linux got where it is thanks to the GPL license as it keeps people who use it honest if they contribute and use it commercially (with a BSD style license, you can use the code and you don't have to contribute back)
How do you look at new software that needs to be created?
There were two views on the matter: you write whatever software you need as you need it (Linus and Jeremy) but Dirk thinks that we should look at the needs of other people and try to respond to it.
When does open source make sense?
Who knows who wrote the paperclip in MS office? If it where open source, you could go to his house and shoot him :-)
Opinions differed a bit, some thought that everything should be open source within 50 years, but Dirk and Linus believed that highly specificialized applications (like a software for a medical company) but that comodity software (office) definitely benefits from being OSS.
How about single signons?
The whole panel was worried about that because it would give microsoft too much control and information that it really shouldn't have. However, they are once again going to leverage their monopoly on the desktop to take over another market and put infrastructure in MSIE 6.0 to allow web sites to make all commercial transactions through microsoft's servers
Linus however thinks that microsoft will not be able to tax every single transaction over the web because governments would step in to do the taxing themselves.
After the panel, the OSDL enterprise achievement award went to Heinz Mauelshagen for his work with LVM (logical volume manager).



Well, what is there to say, it was smaller, not near as exiting as previous years, but there were still a few cool things to see. IBM had probably the most impressive presence throughout the show. If you still don't believe that they are committed to linux, believe it.


You have a clue? You need a job?

Transgaming makes your windows games run under wine

You really want to support their efforts and subscribe to their service (I will, even though I don't even play games)

Obviously, I'm biased since VA Linux designed this server (and sold it to Appro when it got out of the hardware business)
but this it's really a sweet box: Dual Athlon 1.2G, 4 hot swappable SCA drives + CD Rom all in a 1U

You can touch, but you can't take home :-)

Too bad the trip you can win is only for two :-)

You want to see all the booth pictures? Go here

Evening Parties


After working some time in the OSDN booth (eh, I had to earn my long sleeved shirt :-)), I went to sample the few parties that were happening (most private): Linux Journal had a hostpitality suite, then VA had a private presentation on sourceforge onsite and dinner, HP had pre-movie party with snacks, and then came what I had been waiting for for a while: J.T.S. Moore's Revolution OS movie showing at the Metreon.
I won't spoil it for you, but basically it shows the evolution of linux from when it started, through windows refund day, linuxworlds, Red Hat and VA's IPOs.


After the movie, we discussed with the director, J.T.S. Moore, and Bruce Perens, featured in the movie

This event unfortunately conflicted with EFF's party a few blocks away where Dmitry spoke, as well as Stallman and a representative from the EFF, but I got to see most of the crowd just before the speeches were over.


Yes, we were having fun :-)

Come on, buy the few linux10 shirts we have left


'cause the money is going to the EFF

That's all folks

Overall the show was still pretty good, and outside of the location, which was less than ideal, IDG did again a good job.
Thanks for coming, and see you next year.

A big thank you goes to Raphael Moll for not only giving me a prerelease of RIG (Ralf's Image Gallery), and fixing it up to the last minute so that I could release this report.

With IDS, I just couldn't have made all the pictures available, but with RIG, I can, they're all here (note that if you browse anything else than the default size pictures or the 640 pixel wide resized pictures, they're going to have to be generated on the fly, and it could be a tad slower)

And here's the now usual little footer note:
If you'd like to use some pictures or text, please Email me first.

'Till next time
Marc Merlin (

[ms free site] Email
Link to Home Page

2001/09/05 (04:26): Version 1.0. Enjoy!
2001/09/05 (11:11): Version 1.1. Added a few words about IBM
2001/09/05 (13:45): Version 1.2. IPCP is really CPIP. Thanks Ron