I spent last week at linux.conf.au in Ballarat, Victoria (that’s the Victoria in Australia, not wherever else there may be one) which is only a pleasant two hour drive from my home town of Melbourne (Australia, not Florida). I sent an email internally to our experts detailing bits of the conference that may interest them – and I thought that it may also interest our wider readers who are interested in all levels of the software stack.
For those that don’t know: linux.conf.au is one of (if not the) most awesome technical conference in the free software space. It consistently attracts a wide variety of very knowledgable speakers and a large number of attendees.
Every year it is put together by a (different) set of volunteers, and this means it also tours around the country (and sometimes even New Zealand). This year it was in Ballarat – a regional city a couple of hours drive out of Melbourne. One of the great things about LCA is that you are not always at the same hotel, in the same city stuck with the same two restaurants.
This year had a bit of an increased focus on privacy, security and basic freedoms and human rights. This is no doubt a reaction to the increased attacks on freedom of speech and the internet that have been going on in recent months.
That being said, there were a huge number of great talks on a variety of topics – everything from filesystem performance to open hardware, to repurposing existing hardware to upcoming challenges for the kernel to howto be a better sysadmin. In fact… for those who weren’t there and spend any of their life helping people admin machines – go and watch those talks.
linux.conf.au (for me) is one of the cannot-miss events in the year. It’s an opportunity to learn things that directly apply to my work, may apply in the future and most certainly will never apply but are rather cool anyway.
All the video from the conference are already up! This is an amazing effort from the (volunteer) AV team. I’ve included links to a selection of talks below that I especially think are worth watching:
Watch no matter what:
- Keynote – Karen Sandler
This keynote was amazing. Go watch it. The organisers did a truly excellent job at selecting keynotes this year.
- Keynote – Jacob Appelbaum
This is best described as a tour of internet freedom, the attacks on it and a tour of the modern surveillance state.
- UEFI and Linux: The future is here and it’s awful
You will be depressed at some point in this talk – the news is not great for the future of even being able to easily boot free software on machines.
- Paul Fenwick’s Keynote
A good quick introduction to hacking your brain. I’m sure many of you (like me) are interested in ways to hack our brains and our bodies to better serve us. This talk is merely an introduction. I also suggest you check out Anki if you want to improve your ability to remember things.
- Torturing OpenSSL
This was certainly one of the most amazing talks I saw. A whole new interesting way of attacking SSL. Vary CPU voltage, extract private SSL keys! Wheee!
- The Kernel Report – Jonathan Corbet
You can skip this only if you read every single mail on LKML, run your own analysis on the kernel source tree and publish an (at least) weekly publication on Linux.
This is one of the few (err… only) talks that is repeatedly accepted into linux.conf.au. Why? Because Jon manages to compress a whole year of activity in the Linux world int oa single session that is incredibly informative.
- I Can’t Believe This Is Butter! A tour of BTRFS
This is going to be the default filesystem in a number of places over the next few years, time to start learning! While it’s unlikely to be suitable for database workloads anywhere in the near future, I suspect we’ll see BTRFS as the root filesystem and XFS as the filesystem for the database server in the not too distant future.
- Mistakes Were Made
This session explores a number of rather indispensable things for those in operations – but also leaks over into development. Learning from our mistakes can only make us better at doing our jobs.
- Hack Everything: repurposing everyday devices
This was great fun – reuse existing hardware to do awesome things!
Talks that could be quite interesting for you, depending on your interests:
- XFS: Recent and Future Adventures
This talk covered a lot of the recent improvements in XFS. Especially interesting for those with metadata heavy workloads.
- Bloat: How and Why UNIX Grew Up (and Out) – Rusty Russell,Matt Evans
This is a pretty neat examination of where bloat comes from taking V6 UNIX utilities as the baseline. It would be interesting to have a similar study on the database servers we all love and use.
- Migrating to PHP 5.4
Probably quite useful if you’re dealing with PHP (although I wasn’t in this session).
- Finding vulnerabilities in PHP code (via static code analysis)
This one is for our web developers. It’s only a 20minute talk, so you should really all go and watch it. Various static analysis tools are part of the normal toolkit for C and C++ development these days, it’s great to see people working on them for other languages.
Talks I shall be watching the videos of as I was in another talk at the time:
- Smashing a square peg into a round hole
- Codec2: Open Source Speech Codec
- Desktop Home Hacks
- This Old Code, or Renovating Dusty Old Open Source For Fun and Profit
This is especially interesting as I both know Greg and have talked to him about this work *and* because of my experience with the Drizzle project – we certainly have encountered more than our fair share of dusty old code during our time working on Drizzle.
- Mentoring: we’re Doing It Wrong
- Multi-tenancy, multi-master, sharding, scaling and analytics with Drizzle
An update as to what we’ve been working on getting going in Drizzle.
All the videos are going up at: