But the distro miniconf, held today as part of the Australian national Linux conference, did not result in any heat. There was some light shed on the different attributes of different distributions with the speakers all being people who could speak about different distributions without resorting to criticising the other.
It wasn't half as bad as Oxer's 2007 experience when he devoted about an hour of the Debian mini-conference he was holding to discuss other distributions. All the Debian people got up and left once the discussion about their own distribution was over.
This year, people were extremely civil.
Richard Keech of Red Hat, Martin Michlmayr of the Debian GNU/Linux project, Leon Brooks of Cyberknights (Mandriva), Shane Oxenby of Oracle (Oracle Unbreakable Linux - not a separate distribution per se with the support program being the differentiator), and Christopher Smart (Gentoo, and to some extent his own distribution Kororaa based on Gentoo) all spoke briefly listed the distinguishing features of their distributions.
Each speaker provided some insight into the history of the distribution, the packaging system and the good and bad points. Each functioned as an able ambassador for the distro in question.
Michlmayr was the person who spoke the longest and he openly discussed some of the issues which Debian faces - the decision to omit binary blobs altogether from the kernel in Debian, for one.
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.