The Linux Foundation End User Summit

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To be honest, I half expected the Linux Foundation End Users Summit to degenerate into a tavern brawl. Considering the disparate – and frequently conflicting – viewpoints assembled in a compact venue, it seemed at least possible.

Fortunately, rationalism prevailed, and every discussion that I witnessed or participated in was both cordial and polite. While few positions were changed, attitudes were generally respectful. Which was good news, since the assembled parties obviously have much to learn from one another.

Given that the audience was asked to be circumspect regarding specifics to permit free and open dialogue, I can’t tell you who said what or when. But we have been granted permission to speak in broad strokes about the content. So, a (very) few comments on what I heard:

  • General:
    The mood of the conference – in stark contrast to the mood of the Manhattan surroundings – was relatively upbeat. There was the inevitable networking, but for the most part attendees seemed secure in both their jobs and their technical direction. No one that I spoke with was remotely concerned about the future of the Linux project, or of their investments in it.
  • Focus Areas:
    Apart from the obvious technical areas of commentary, two major areas of focus from the vendor crowd were 1.) cloud and 2.) virtualization – which should come as no surprise to anyone that’s been tracking the space. The Cloud, in particular, was cited as an area not only of opportunity, but as a validation of both the Linux technology and the development process that built it.
  • Filesystems:
    One subject that commanded substantial attention was the state of the available filesystems, with presentations and discussions of the two next gen candidates in ext4 and btrfs specifically. I’ll have more on this subject later, but it’s worth noting that the design target for these projects is clearly ZFS, with the specific expectation that the Solaris next gen filesystem would be bettered in performance and usability. Look for Btrfs to go production ready in 12-18 months, based on the conversations here.
  • Participation:
    The conversations on participation were perhaps the most interesting, revealing as they did a development process at once flawed and functional. True, end users of many organizations talked fairly candidly about their frustrations with the development process, but the context was improvement rather than ultimatum. Proposals were floated for streamlining the process for improving both feedback and responsiveness: one example was workload benchmarking, a proposed solution to the fact that end user organizations are highly sensitive to revealing any more than they need to about their infrastructures.

On the whole, I found the event very worthwhile. Aggregating both developers and users of a project in a gathering of manageable size generally yields positive results, and this one was no exception. Very high value, and I recommend attending if you have the opportunity.

One comment

  1. […] comments, views and reaction to the Linux Foundation Summit here. Regrettably I couldn’t be there… Posted by md on October 16th, 2008 | Filed in Linux, […]

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