I've written a report about t …

I’ve written a report about the Intersocs conference in Galway which happened over the weekend. Check it out below. If you were there and want to add anything, tell me and I’ll append it.

On Saturday 28th of November I made my way up to Galway in the west of Ireland for the Intersocs Ireland Conference ’98 that was taking place there.

I travelled from Cork with Owen “BLG” Kelly early on Saturday morning and just made it to National University of Ireland, Galway for the first lecture by Kenn Humborg which was delayed by almost an hour for some reason.

The lectures were in a theatre on-campus. The theatre holds a large screen (2×2 metres perhaps) which was used to present the lectures. It was really cool seeing an X display on such a huge screen! Especially seeing someone typing in an xterm, typing “ls”, “cd”, or typing “make” even!

Kenn went to a lot of work for his presentation. He created a set of slides using Magicpoint explaining some aspects of Linux networking, how IP masquerading works, how sendmail can be configured and he touched on related topics.

After a short break, the presentations continued with a talk by Joe Desbonnet about setting up Apache as a web server. Unfortunately Joe had been out the previous night so his talk was a small bit unprepared. He went over the configuration files Apache uses (httpd.conf, access.conf and srm.conf) and continued about using Perl and mod_perl. He spoke a little about the dangers of using mod_perl (memory leaks), how to combat those dangers (no sloppy coding, and the server kills threads every 150 hits), and the speed advantages of mod_perl.
He talked a little about the two HTTP protocols, 1.0 and 1.1, and telneted to port 80 of his own machine to demonstrate how a human could send commands to a web server.

A talk on HTML by Ken Guest followed this. It was presented in a browser of course, and links to related documents were included. Ken talked about different aspects of writing web pages by hand, and stressed the need for using compatible tags, hence, probably, his plain presentation which could have been viewed by any browser from Lynx upwards.
Ken shared some of the tricks he’s learned in creating web pages, such as putting a <BR> tag after text in a table in case the browser doesn’t understand tables or doesn’t interpret them well.

A public demonstration installing Linux was to take place soon afterwards but many of us went into Galway city center in search of refreshment. After burgers and drinks we walked around for a while before making our way back to the university for the aforementioned demonstration.
There were two machines, one had RedHat 5.2 on it and was at the stage where X was displayed on it, although the video card in the machine was unsupported by X and they had to resort to VGA.
The other machine was running Suse 5.3 which wasn’t as far advanced in the install, because XF86Setup defaulted to a refresh rate too low for the monitor.
The demonstration seemed to lose momentum before people in the audience started asking about applications for Linux. Several business men asked about desktop suites, to which many pointed out the excellent Star Office and Applixware as well as pointing out that Corel would be releasing it’s office suite very soon.
Alan Cox pointed out that Star Office was free for non-commercial use describing that concept as, “great!”, for trying out applications.
After that the discussion turned towards applications and became more informal as Kenn Humborg fetched his computer in and set it up with KDE and showed off the smart looking GUI on his machine. Ken showed off Klyx, and some of the configuration dialogues in KDE. I took over for a few minutes to show how simple it is to set up a printer on a RedHat system (using printtool) and went on to explain some of the benefits of using Linux.
At the same time people were walking around, talking in groups, or just sitting quietly. Alan Cox had quite a crowd around him within a few minutes. Unfortunately we were kicked out half an hour later at 7:30pm.

The “Great Nerd Table Quiz” took place later in the college bar where most people had drifted to by 8pm. I didn’t stay. I went for dinner with Owen and his brother at Pasta Paradiso which serves the most beautiful pizzas! If you’re in Galway make sure you try them!
In the end, the table with Ray Kelly, Sean McGrath, Joe Kilcullen and Kenn Humborg won the table quiz.

An ironic event occured when I tried to register at the hostel Ken Guest had booked.
They use cards with a magnetic strip to gain access to rooms in the hostel and they have to be swiped before you can use them. Unfortunately, mine didn’t work twice and I had to be registered again. I noticed they were using an MS Access database on their machine to register people and just when my details were to be entered the database crashed and had to be restarted..

Alan Cox

This was the guy a lot of guys came to see I think, at least judging by the crowds gathered around him most of the time! He took it all very well, chatting away and listening, “just like one of the lads”.

After the first 2 presentations he was introduced to us formally and a brief questions and answers session followed.
Topics discussed ranged from:

  • The development kernel (linux.org ran 2.1.129 for a day and a half before crashing, porn sites are the best sites to use to test the abilities of any new kernel.
  • GGI
  • speech recognition (emacspeak, Festival)
  • The structure of RedHat was asked about. RH has a marketing and sales department like most large companies! RHLabs was created because Mark wanted to get into real work again. In RHLabs they have lots of PCs and even a Nintendo!
  • Alan wasn’t going to be goaded into the whole QT/KDE vs Gnome battle. He believes the two desktops won’t merge as both groups want to work on their respective projects.
  • He’s payed to do kernel things šŸ™‚
  • Kernel in CVS? Linus doesn’t want it to happen. A small number of people have to know what’s going on everywhere. They have to have a view of the whole kernel development. In CVS this would be too hard to do.
  • They might persuade Linus to use Jitterbug though.
  • Alan tries more patches than Linus does. That’s why you get the AC versions of some of the patches. Linus isn’t payed to do what he does. Alan is, so he can afford to work longer on the kernel and fix any bugs that might occur.
  • Mac floppies are _very_ difficult to support. Supposedly, Apple did everything they could in software, and anything else, well, they did that too.
  • When asked about the Corel Netwinder, Alan said the video, “wasn’t quite that fast”, and it had the performance of a Pentium. He talked about joining 15 of them together to make a very powerful computer, but nobody wanted to turn it on for fear of breaking anything!
  • Alan said that IBM are interested in PowerPC Linux.
  • Linux on the Xeon can address 2 gigs of memory. He knows things about Merced development he can’t tell anyone!

Related Links

(3-Dec-98) John Allen pointed out that it was Joe Desbonnet, and not Joe Desmond, who presented the talk on Apache. He also informed me that the Suse machine mentioned above was an old machine, and the refresh rate was too low for the monitor they selected in the setup.
(7-Dec-98) Kenn Humborg pointed out that I spelt his name wrong, and told me who won the table quiz.
(16-Dec-98) Ken Guest was the guy who demonstrated KLyx, not Kenn Humborg. He also emailed me links to the talks presented on the day.

Author: Donncha

Donncha Ɠ Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

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