Linuxwochen 2004 -- Report

Another year, another Linuxwochen. The third time this event toured through Austria, and of course we had a booth again. It is astounding how big and worth a visit the event has become in that short time. This year we even had four days full of interesting program.

Wednesday, 26th of May: Desktop Day

The setup of the booths and the whole event started on Wednesday early morning. When I came there between 8:00 and 9:00 morning some early birds were already mostly done with the network setup in the rented MuseumsQuartier. But I was still of help for some parts of it.

The other booth staff members showed up also in time and helped, too. The posters that Ayo of did and Credativ printed came exactly in time for the event, so we had something for the people. Also the handouts were here.

The event started at 13:00 and people showed up in time. There were booths from Sun, IBM, Novell and some local companies which were quite interesting. The talks were mainly about the business desktop and related topics which gave the day its special name.

Someone asked me to help them with the install of Mandrake on their notebook. Well, the auto hardware detection seems to have frozen the system, so I added noauto. Well, then they had problem with configuring their X server, because no auto detection was done... The mouse wasn't configured. And the best part was: Somehow the guys managed to get a broken passwd file! The user they started with had both the shell and the home directory set to crap ("._" or such...). After I've changed that to sensible defaults they were finally able to use their Mandrake. I guess even the old boot floppies weren't able to produce such strange problems.

A little later Werner came along with his PA-RISC machine again, and also one of the sparc machines that Krisztian Mark Szentes donated to us. The story from last year with the PA-RISC was continued because he had a harddisk failure and needed to install it again. But this time it wasn't that hard. The bigger problem has been the IPX which had problems with the mouse, but they managed it in time for the end of the Linuxwochen with joined forces. :)

The day was finished with some vino tasting. Was quite nice, especially sitting around with all the people and talking about various different topics.

Thursday, 27th of May: Business to Business and Authorities Day

This time we started in the morning with the talks, and the place was already a little bit crowded when I came there. The Sun Java Desktop System talk sounded at least partly interesting, wasn't in there for too long, though. Wanted to work on my talk I had to hold on the next day, but I was given one of those "Guru" stickers which means that people are free to ask me whenever they came along. Those stickers were a great idea, and almost all of our booth personnel did have such a sticker.

Friday, 28th of May: Technology Day

In the morning the booth area had to be reorganized because the first two days were business oriented and thus had more business exhibitors, and the coming two were more community oriented. The crew moved apart and made space for the Perl people and the Jux project, from where I got my own Jux CD now. It's always nice to have one of the things that have your name in the booklet....

Watched the keynote about Copyright and Free Software, which has been held by Cory Doctorow of the EFF. It was really interesting, and I hope it will be made available online too, like the talks of the former two days.

The third day had technology as main topic, and my talk fit in quite well. It was my third talk in my "mal anders" (somehow differently) series, and this time it was about Debian packaging. I started off with alien and handling of binary only distributed files with debhelper, and continued with the format of a deb package and how to make changes to an already packaged deb. I have put the magic point sources onto my homepage already, but they are only available in German language for now. Maybe I will repeat that talk at the LinuxTag, if people raise interest. That would be in English language then, I guess — so chances are good that I will have to rewrite it anyway.

In the evening there was a political talk with representatives of all four parties of the Austrian government. The main mentioned topic has been of course software patents (which are mainly patents on ideas and not technology) and the upcoming vote for the EU parliament. It has been quite interesting, though at least the person sent by the SPĂ– was not too well informed.

After that there was the hacknight done by the CNGW like every year. I didn't want to stay all night long, but they showed some films and I hacked along all night long...

Saturday, 29th of May: User Day

I have been almost the first — only Stefan Heinecke has been here earlier. We were much too early because the first talk started at eleven o' clock. It was the only talk I watched completely, also helped with the technique at the beginning: The notebook had problems with the beamer so some replacement was needed, and found. The talk was about "Open Mind goes OpenSource (OMGOS)" and presented an online training platform looked really promising.

Sven Guckes was placed into the secondary talk room with his "Vim Feature Show", but got the room completely full, like always. And also again he had some hardware problems to solve at the start but got the people still happy during that time with his show. He is always a great magnet for audience.

After trying to help some person with his WinXP notebook and wlan problem the event was more or less finished in the later afternoon. There were some talks left, but the exhibition area was less and less crowded, and the dismantling started. The funny part: I was leaving with more handouts that I was sent, because Christoph Siess had quite a huge box left also from some former event and didn't want to take them all home with himself.

In the evening there was again some finishing show: This time it had been "Hacktivity": In three rounds starting with a Binary Search (where people have to ask the audience yes/no kind questions and they have to applaud if the answer is yes) on geek terms. Second round is called Pattern Matching where the candidate has to act as mime and the other candidates have to guess, and third round was Binary Search again. I was one of the candidates, and failed miserably right on the first term, which was "magic code", #! or hash bang. One has 256 seconds to guess, and I wasn't able to find it. I thought already that I am completely wrong here, but then the others weren't able to perform any better.

In the end I made it as first through the game and was given an OpenBSD 3.5 CD set, and could choose from an OpenBSD girlie shirt, an OpenBSD baseball cap an OpenBSD poster and an "Posthörnchen" shirt. Of course I took the latter. The others have received older versions of OpenBSD and will have to patch their openssh if they plan to install it. :-)


The event has been a great success: There were no talks in the exhibition area anymore and this was a huge improvement over the former year. From reading this report you might guess that I was asked about everything but Debian. That isn't true, quite many people have asked of course about Debian — but I guess those things are the ones that you keep in mind. Many people asked about our t-shirts but we didn't have any this year unfortunately. We will really have to do some for the next year again. Also quite many questions were about the sarge release and I pointed them to the debian-vote list for watching the upcoming vote. And at least two people asked me (I am not sure if it was really in connection with my talk or not) on how to get their own packages into the pool. I directed those to the debian-mentors list.

I'm looking forward to the next year, and am already starting to think about the topic of my next "mal anders" talk. Lets see what comes along, I have one topic in mind and hope that I will get enough input for it so I'll be able to do it.

Gerfried Fuchs