The ITworld.com Network  
Network Search ¦ Sites ¦ Services ¦ ITcareers


Advertisement: Support Unix Insider, click here!

Home Home E-mail this article E-mail this article Printer-friendly version Printer-friendly version Tell us what you think Tell us what you think
Spacer
Spacer SEARCH
put phrases in quotes
Spacer
Spacer
Spacer
Spacer
Spacer NAVIGATE Spacer
Spacer Subscribe -- It's Free Spacer
Spacer Topical Index Spacer
Spacer Back Issues Spacer
Spacer UnixWHERE Spacer
Spacer Events Calendar Spacer
Spacer Community Discussions
Spacer
Spacer TECHNICAL FAQs Spacer
Spacer Solaris Security Spacer
Spacer Secure Programming Spacer
Spacer Performance Q&A Spacer
Spacer SE Toolkit Spacer
Spacer
Spacer ADVERTISEMENT Spacer
Spacer
Spacer

Spacer
Spacer
Spacer
Spacer UNIX INSIDER PARTNERS
Spacer
Spacer Spacer
Spacer ITcareers.com Spacer
Spacer Expert Advice Spacer
Spacer RFP Center Spacer
Spacer Training Center Spacer
Spacer Research Spacer
Spacer Vendor Content Spacer
Spacer
Spacer ABOUT UNIX INSIDER Spacer
Spacer Advertising Info Spacer
Spacer Unix Insider FAQ Spacer
Spacer Unix Insider Editors Spacer
Spacer Masthead Spacer
Spacer Editorial Calendar Spacer
Spacer Writers' Guidelines Spacer
Spacer Privacy Policy Spacer
Spacer Link to Us! Spacer
Spacer Copyright Spacer
Spacer BACK TO TOP Spacer
Spacer

A report from the Open Source Convention

Perl 3.0 meets Python (and Linux and Tcl...)

By Vicki Brown


San Francisco (September 1, 1999) -- First there was The Perl Conference. That was back in 1997. It went so well that in 1998 there we were treated to a repeat performance at Perl 98. But this time, on the last day of that show, there was a hint of things to come: Open Source Developer Day. Where does a conference go from there? What's the next level of improvement? Try this year's O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention (held August 20-24 in Monterey, CA) -- 4 days of open source bliss.

The Open Source Convention featured not only Perl, but simultaneous conference tracks for Apache, Linux, Python, Sendmail, Tcl/Tk, and even an Open Source Business. The premise was simple: if it's a major open source project, it was represented at this year's conference.

Rules for Revolutionaries
One of the keynote speeches at the conference was Guy Kawasaki's "Rules for Revolutionaries -- Some Practical Advice for the Open Source Movement." Guy Kawasaki has been chief evangelist of Apple Computer and CEO of garage.com. He has started two software companies and been an angel for three others. I've heard Kawasaki give this talk several times, and I always enjoy it. It's always slightly different, as he makes an effort to tailor the talk to the audience.

Tim O'Reilly, president of O'Reilly & Associates and the host for the convention, provided some introductory remarks to explain his choice of Kawasaki as a keynote speaker. According to O'Reilly, we are experiencing many changes in the open source community, and one of the problems as a project gets bigger is that it moves into the spotlight. Kawasaki is an appropriate speaker for an open source convention because he has seen what happens during the transition from idealism to real-world business. He can share insights and ideas with those of us just now entering the spotlight.

In case you've never heard Kawasaki's Rules for Revolutionaries, they are (in Top 10 format):

  1. Set your perspectives right: Jump to the next curve.

  2. Eat like a bird; poop like an elephant: (Take in information at hundreds of times your body weight; when you have digested it, spread it around.)

  3. Don't worry, be crappy: Version 1 means never having to say you're sorry.

  4. Churn, baby, churn: It's okay to ship version 1, but there had better be a 1.1, a 2.0, a 3.0...

  5. Enable people to test drive your revolution.

  6. Make evangelists, not sales: Turn people into "raging inexorable thunder lizards" for your product.

  7. Let a thousand flowers bloom: Support use of your product in unintended ways.

  8. Think digital; act analog: Software is a (digital) means to an end; the end (analog) is the customer.

  9. Never ask people to do something you yourself wouldn't do: Keep the customer in mind.

  10. Do not let the bozos grind you down: The more the bozos try to grind you down, the more it means you're on to something.

From BSD to CSL
Another keynote speaker was someone well known to Sun users (and old hands with Unix) -- Bill Joy. Some might question the choice of Joy; Sun isn't exactly known as an open source company. But is responsible for the BSD Unix distributions 20 years ago, and he distributed the source for ex, vi, and other BSD programs.

Again, Tim O'Reilly justified his choice: Joy is one of the fathers of the open source movement. The developers at Berkeley created much of what we use today; the contributions of BSD Unix to current technology is often taken for granted.

Joy began with a retrospective of how he chose Berkeley for his graduate studies, what Berkeley was like in those days (minimal funding, no hardware), and the state of computer science research at the time. A big issue was, "is software research?" If the source code represents the results of your research, it should be published.

In the early 1980s with Joy onboard, Sun pioneered the notion of "open systems" with public interfaces. Implementations were proprietary, but source was available. Not quite our idea open source, but a major advance over the systems of the time.

More recently, Sun formulated a new approach to licensing. Called community source licensing (CSL), it draws from both proprietary (private property) and open source ("the commons") licensing models. The approach, which is best described as "stewardship," combines the best of both worlds. Features include:

  • Share source code and bug fixes

  • Compatibility testing protects the brand

  • Proprietary enhancements are allowed; APIs are open; enhancements are clonable

  • More developers

  • A recognizable point of responsibility

  • No single provider bottleneck

  • Flexible boundaries

Joy ended his talk by saying, "Let's continue to find new ways to stand on each other's shoulders rather than stepping on each other's toes."

The sessions
Attendees could choose from 14 different tracks, spread out among the seven smaller conferences. The Perl conference had five tracks, ranging from "Improving Your Perl Skills" and "Critical Issues in Perl" to user papers.

I was particularly impressed with "Reducing Business Risk with Perl," an unfortunately dry title for an anything but dry presentation from Randal ("Just Another Perl Hacker") Schwartz.

He gave a brief (but growing) list of companies that use Perl, called Perl the "Duct Tape of The Internet," and provided a number of reasons why you should use Perl in your company, and how you can use it most effectively and safely (hint: upgrade to Perl 5.004 or later and always use -T on your CGI scripts).

User papers (part of the Perl conference only) covered topics such as "Using Perl in Spacecraft Operations," "How the Financial Investment Sector Uses Perl," and "A Fast and Easy Way to Find Bugs in Your Source Code."

Damian Conway's award-winning paper really had people talking. "Coy -- Like Carp only Prettier" documents a new Perl module which provides haiku error messages:

The Coy.pm
module frames errors within
synthetic haiku.

This reduces the
stress induced in the user
when a program fails.

Conway won the Larry Wall Award for Practical Perl Utility. According to Wall, "Poetry is practical."

Other awards went to:

  • Best Paper, Application Category: "MEADE, A Modular Extensible Adaptable Design Environment for ASIC and FPGA Development," Gary Spivey

  • Best Paper, System Category: "File Replication on the InterMezzo File System," by Peter J Braam, Michael Callahan, and Phil Schwan

  • Best Paper, Development Category: "A Fresh Look at Efficient Perl Sorting," by Uri Guttman and Larry Rosler

  • Best New Module: POE.pm, by Rocco Caputo

It's not too early to think about submitting a paper for next year's convention. The Open Source Convention 2000 will be held in the same location (Monterey) but earlier in the summer (July 15-18). Potential user paper topics include case studies, module writeups, academic research, programming language tricks, or just plain cool stuff (like Coy.pm).

Although my personal interest lies with Perl, my hope is that next year's convention will also feature more papers from the Python, Linux, and other technologies. I'd like to see those sessions get a little bigger.

Awards also included the White Camel Awards, which were presented at the conference reception. This award recognizes the Perl Community's "unsung heroes." Tom Christiansen, Kevin Lenzo, and Adam Turoff were recognized for their extraordinary contributions to Perl Advocacy, the Perl Community, and Perl User Groups, respectively.

The White Camel Awards were conceived of and administered by Perl Mongers, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to establish Perl user groups. In addition to Perl Mongers, O'Reilly and sourceXchange sponsored this year's awards.

About the author
Vicki Brown has been programming professionally since 1984. Unix is her favorite operating system; the Mac OS is her favorite user interface. When she isn't writing, Vicki is employed as a scientific (Perl) programmer at a biotech company on the San Francisco peninsula.

Home | Mail this Story | Printer-Friendly Version | Resources and Related Links

Advertisement: Support Unix Insider, click here!

Resources and Related Links
  Other Unix Insider resources  

(c) Copyright 1999 Web Publishing Inc., and IDG Communication company

If you have technical problems with this magazine, contact webmaster@unixinsider.com

URL: http://www.unixinsider.com/swol-09-1999/swol-09-osconf.html
Last modified: Thursday, February 01, 2001