Bits from the DPL
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Hello. This is another in my ongoing series of messages as your DPL. I
certainly didn't intend to get from mid May to mid September without a
message! I'll try to be more regular about these in the future...
Rather than try to tackle every subject on my mind right now all at once,
this time I will just report on interesting things that have happened to me
since May. I've spent much of that time traveling. There was even a block
of several weeks where I never spent more than one night at home at a time.
Several of these trips involved speaking publicly on behalf of Debian.
In June, I attended the Usenix Technical Conference in Monterey, California,
and served as the "guru" for a "The Guru is In" session. My topic was
supposed to be "Linux on things other than PC's", but somehow that got into
the program as "Linux on Laptops and PDAs". The session was well attended,
and I took an interesting range of questions not only on the published topic,
but also about Debian and my hobby work building pieces of amateur satellites.
The Debian BOF session was also well attended, by users as well as developers.
And as always the Usenix conference provided a good opportunity to meet with
people working on other projects beyond the Linux community... I spent a few
hours chatting and drinking with NetBSD folk, had a chance to chat with Bruce
Perens for a while one evening, and enjoyed meeting some of my co-workers in
"the new HP" as this was the first such conference I attended after the
HP/Compaq merger was consummated.
After Usenix, I rushed home to rush off again with my family to Snowmass,
Colorado for a week of music institute for my children, and from there to
the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week and a half on the beach with
my extended family.
In the midst of the beach trip, I took a day away from the family to make a
quick side-trip to Ottawa, Canada, where I spoke on behalf of both HP and
Debian at the Linux Kernel Summit, which occupied the two days before OLS this
year. After presenting a list of kernel topics that HP is interested in or
working on, I peeled off my HP shirt to expose a Debian t-shirt underneath,
and asked the kernel developers for help dealing with the possibly non-free
code in the Linux kernel sources. After some discussion, they threw the
question back at Debian by suggesting that we help identify the problematic
bits currently in the kernel, and develop a proposed policy on including
things like downloadable firmware in the kernel in the future for the kernel
community to consider. I posted a message on one of our lists about this
right after the event , but disappointingly, the discussion didn't go very
far. I was sorry not to be able to stay for OLS itself, but my family took
priority... and sand between the toes is a good thing... :-)
We flew home from the beach in time to celebrate our national holiday on 4
July with friends in Colorado Springs, and then I was off again early on the
morning of the 5th to attend Debconf2 in Toronto. My thanks to Joe Drew and
his crew for a successful event! He wrote up some of the things he learned
along the way, and I see that the organizers of the Debian mini-conference
coming next January in Perth are taking some of his advice to heart .
It was wonderful to meet and have extended face to face conversations with so
many other Debian developers. It puts an entirely different and better
perspective on an email dialogue to have met the other party in person, and
have some context in which to place their comments. I hope those of you who
were there enjoyed meeting me as much as I enjoyed meeting you!
At the end of July, I took a long weekend to visit Guildford, Surrey, UK,
where the AMSAT-UK organization held their annual satellite colloquium. In
addition to speaking at the colloquium about the results we have achieved to
date with some of the experiments on the AO-40 spacecraft I helped build, I
met with several UK Debian developers one evening for a few beers and some
key signing... and before the evening ended, some really marvelous take-away
In August, I took my 10-year-old daughter on a long road-trip from Colorado to
Oregon and back. We attended a violin institute in Eugene, and had a pleasant
vacation together exploring a new part of our country before her school
started again for the fall. Other than dealing with the gradual failure of
my car's fuel pump on the way home, it was a wonderful trip... but it caused
me to skip LinuxWorld in San Francisco, which I had considered attending and
am sorry to have missed.
Much of this note was typed on airplanes and in airport lounges on my way to
and from Istanbul, Turkey. Jon "Maddog" Hall invited me to participate in the
Linux Istanbul 2002 conference held alongside the CeBIT Bilisim Eurasia
convention. I gave two public talks, participated in a panel discussion of
Open Source at an adjacent professional conference on behalf of HP, answered
questions at a group press conference, and was interviewed by a Turkish IT
Business Weekly publication. I met a number of interesting people in Turkey,
and substantially increased the awareness of Debian. One really fascinating
experience was discussing Linux and the community development model over
coffee in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, after a shop owner recognized Maddog
from his picture in that morning's paper and ran out to greet us! Given the
significance "the bazaar" has taken on in our community since Eric Raymond's
writings, it was highly amusing to talk about Open Source with Turkish shop
owners in the middle of a real bazaar! :-)
This weekend I was in Denver for the ARRL/TAPR Digital Communications
Conference, where I gave a talk on Debian. My focus was on how Debian can be
used by amateur radio operators, plus a strong message about freedom,
innovation, and experimentation in the context of Debian and amateur radio.
Bruce Perens was the dinner speaker for the banquet and gave an excellent talk
about various topics which many of us care a great deal about. From a
technical standpoint, the work underway in various places on software-defined
radios is fascinating, and the GNUradio project in particular seems worth
watching. I filed an RFP for it a while back, but frankly, I'm not sure it's
quite ready to be packaged yet. Many people told me after my talk that they
now understood what is special about Debian, and are looking forward to giving
it a try, which pleased me greatly!
Later this month, I will attend the HPWorld convention in Los Angeles to talk
about my experiences porting Debian to PARISC and IA-64. I'll then spend
two weekends in a row at AMSAT satellite design meetings, first in Orlando,
Florida, and then in Marburg, Germany. I'm definitely hoping to meet more
of you during my trip to Germany!
As you can see, I've had numerous invitations to serve as a speaker at Linux-
related conferences... and there are many more events on my calendar in coming
months. As long as my employer remains willing to sponsor my travel, and my
family remains supportive, I intend to take advantage of these opportunities
to continue spreading the word about Debian... what our values are, what we're
trying to accomplish, what our results have been so far, and why I'm so
passionate about it all. Along the way, I hope to meet many more of you in
I'm making an effort to publish a list of the events I expect to speak at in
the near future, and copies of the slides from all of my recent talks, on my
server at http://www.gag.com/~bdale/talks. If you have any questions, or
suggestions for improving my talks in the future, feel free to email me.
One other thought before I close this message:
A newspaper article I read recently made a point about the danger of treating
people we collaborate with as "intellectual adversaries" instead of as
"colleagues with different points of view". I couldn't help but think of some
of our discussions (flame wars..?..) in Debian when I read that, and the
distinction seems worth thinking about. Everyone involved in Debian shares
a set of fundamental values. While we may disagree strongly on technical
issues, and on questions of organizational structure or process, we're all
working together for similar goals! The diversity of viewpoints, experiences,
and opinions in Debian is one of our great strengths... but we only realize
the full benefit of our diversity when we remain civil with each other.
Thank you for your time.
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