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Days 3 and 4 of #LCA2011; rockets, balloons, Linus Torvalds


The Penguin Dinner on Thursday night

Days three and four of LCA2011 have passed, and now we are almost halfway through the fifth day, Friday. But so much has been happening, so let me fill you in!

The past couple of days have been quite interesting, with many awesome talks, two social events in the evenings and I got lucky enough to spend some time with Linus Torvalds!

Here’s a brief summary of some stuff you may have missed over the past couple of days. Articles about many of the following will be popping up on the site as soon as I find the time to catch up with the backlog and get around to writing them all!

X and the future of Linux graphics

Keith Packard from Intel held an interesting talk on X. The talk was extremely popular and every seat in the room was taken.

While he didn’t talk about Wayland (which isn’t Keith’s expertise), he did have some interesting information on what X does, what they’ve been working on recently and how they are working on making it better.

Professional Delegates Networking Session

On Wednesday night we went along to the Queensland Maritime Museum which is located right on the river in central Brisbane.

There, I drank beer, ate food and actually met Ubuntu’s new Release Manager Kate Stewart and Ubuntu’s new Desktop Manager, Jason Warner whom I got to chat to for quite a while during a pleasant Brisbane evening outdoors.

We also got free reign around the museum and were let loose on a WW2-era steam powered Australian Navy river ship. Coolest thing was jumping in the guns and moving the turrets around!

You could actually jump in this and move it, super cool

The Dili Village Telco

Thursday morning saw some very interesting talks regarding mesh telephony networks – that is, allowing cellphones (and regular phones) to talk directly to each other using VOIP technology without relying on cell towers or providers – basically removing the middle man.

The Dili Village Telco is a project started by David Rowe, where he has traveled to East Timor to set up a mesh telephony network for locals to call each other for free using mesh potatoes.

Before David started the project, locals paid around 25c a minute to make telephone calls – cheap for us, but their average wage is only $1.52 USD a day, so you can imagine their glee when they could communicate for free!

Serval Batphone

In a similar vein, I went to a cool talk by Paul Gardner-Stephen where he demonstrated the Serval Batphone – the idea being that using mesh technologies, phones can talk directly to each other in disaster zones when the cell towers and infrastructure are damaged and unusable – a prime example being the recent flooding in Queensland.

We then headed out to a field during the lunch break to watch this in action, so there are some cool photos of the technology being put to use with helium balloons (which are used to raise a cellphone up high to spread the reception as far as possible).

Paul Gardner-Stephen talking about the Serval Batphone

As I said before, full articles on these topics will be cropping up as soon as I find the time to write them.

OLPC Australia

I got some hands on time with the One Laptop Per Child project computers. This project is in place to create and distribute very efficient and low-cost laptops (sub $150) to developing countries for children to learn about computers, access the Internet and for helping with education, among tonnes of other stuff.

OLPCs lined up in a row

Obviously, these cool little devices run Linux and you can actually install the environment (called Sugar) in Ubuntu – more details will follow in an article.

Hanging out with Linus Torvalds

I managed to catch Linus Torvalds, the original creator of the Linux kernel, for a chat yesterday. He’s been at the conference pretty much all week and I must say that he is a lovely, amicable and approachable guy.

I got the chance to interview him for the site, so I have his thoughts on Ubuntu and other distributions, Linux in the mobile space, as well as upcoming new kernel features which I can’t wait to share with you.

The interview might be up on the site later today, otherwise look out for it over the weekend – I promise it’s high on priority, but I really want to make sure the write-up is of excellent quality.

Penguin Dinner

Last night was the formal sit-down dinner for professional delegates (and press, etc). It took place in the very impressive Brisbane Cultural Centre.

Over the course of three meals, there was a table quiz to test the 500-odd people there (the questions were very difficult!) and also a fundraiser for the Premier’s Flood Relief Fund.

I believe they are still counting pledges, but right now it’s at approximately $22,000 AUD. Not a bad effort for a bunch of Open Source geeks!

That’s all folks, look out for more articles soon and in the meantime, enjoy the photos!

This is just a selection of photos. All the photos are available in high resolution in my LCA2011 Flickr photo set.