LCA 2009: Friday, the last day (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 23 Jan 2009

LCA 2009: Friday, the last day

The conference is over! Amazing how quickly a week passes.

Simon Phipps warmed us up with a very good keynote, full of inside jokes and knowledgeable quips indicating he knows the community even if he is a Sun guy.

Matthew Wilcox had some good tips on improving performance on solid state disks that I know will keep Dave busy for a while (I got him a small laptop SSD for his birthday and he's been enjoying it quite a bit -- it's hugely less power intensive and much faster for most operations than the regular disk it replaced). Apparently a lot of his advice will only work on snazzy high-end IBM SSDs, not the cheap ones like netbooks have or like Dave has, but some of them may be helpful anyway. Dave is trying the suggestion of using no I/O scheduler, echo "noop" > /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler -- apparently there's a lot of crap the scheduler has to traverse that isn't noticable when the drive is seeking all the time, but on an SSD that doesn't need to seek, it can make a big difference. Also, apparently ext4 or btrfs (still under development) have some enhancements that help with SSD performance.

I went to Paul Fenwick's talk (Awesome Things You've Missed in Perl) even though I'm not a Perl hacker ... I know by now that Paul will always have something fun, and indeed he did, including a live demo of a bot that plays Minesweeper. The "awesome things" were indeed pretty cool, and I even found myself tempted to check out Perl again, especially for the new smart regular expression and grammar syntax (you can name parts of regular expressions then define grammars based on them -- very nice!)

Matthew Garrett had entertaining stories on power management, though not a lot of practical advice. Summary: power management sucks, maybe it'll get better some day; users shouldn't be forced to predict their use patterns in order to optimize power usage; video wastes a ton of power, like higher-than-necessary refresh rates when the user is merely viewing static images on an LCD that doesn't need much refreshing.

Then it was lunchtime -- time for the Great Shaving, where Linus shaved Bdale's beard as part of the enormous charity deal (something between $35,000 and $40,000 -- the count still isn't finished yet) toward saving the Tasmanian Devil. Bdale shared some of the emails from his wife (with her permission) and they were pretty funny, as was

"Geek My Ride" (Jonathan Oxer and Jared Herbohn or "Flame") had an entertaining presentation full of successful and impressive demos (we didn't see the actual cars -- those will be at Open Day tomorrow, apparently). I didn't see the whole presentation because I was fiddling around with an idea for a lightning talk, but I saw enough to get the idea.

Kevin Pulo's "Fun with LD_PRELOAD" was indeed fun. He had quite a few examples of existing LD_PRELOAD hacks as well as a detailed example of how to make a custom preloaded library. It's quite a bit more elaborate than I realized, but certainly do-able and something I've been meaning to experiment with for quite a while.

Then, sadly, it was time for the closing ceremonies, including lightning talks (I worked up the nerve and participated, though my laptop didn't behave and wouldn't talk to the projector -- weird how xrandr sometimes works and sometimes doesn't). And then the closing announcements: next year's LCA will be in Wellington, NZ. The Great Shaving had made the Hobart afternoon news, and someone brought in a tape of it. The funniest thing was that they focused on Bdale and the donation but never mentioned the guy who was doing the shaving (some unassuming guy named Linus).

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