Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce LCA2009: Of beards and saving the Tasmanian devil

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It all began with the auction of a painting at last night's Penguin dinner to raise money towards research aimed at saving the Tasmanian devil.


It will end tomorrow with senior Debian developer Bdale Garbee having his beard shaved off by Linux creator Linus Torvalds.

Things tend to generally get complicated when kernel hacker Paul "Rusty" Russell is in charge of things such as auctions and this time was no exception.

The painting is an award-winning one done by Garbee's wife, Karen. The initial bidding was a bit slow, and thus it was inevitable that several good souls, in the general spirit of cheer that prevailed, sought to push things along.

MySQL co-founder Michael "Monty" Widenius sought to push the bidding along by offering to put in 4000 euros if the bidding reached that amount - provided someone else also pledged an equal amount.

After the bid reached $2500, Linux Australia pledged to double the final bid, upto a limit of $10,000.

Torvalds then offered to include the logo of the conference, Tuz (a Tasmanian devil with a penguin's beak), in the next kernel release but bidding was slow.

Nobody is very clear about what happened after that but it appears that one genial soul, whose name I have not been able to ascertain, had also offered to raise $4000 on his own, if the bid reached that amount. This morning he was walking around with a bucket, trying to raise said amount.

And then, the final bit of jollity came when someone asked Garbee to pledge that he would shave off his well-manicured beard. After that the bidding went along smoothly.

Somehow that got changed to Garbee having his beard shaved off by Torvalds. Both geeks agreed. That, indeed, will be a sight to behold.

In the meantime, the Tasmanian devil has been the beneficiary - the final amount that will go towards research to save this fine specimen will be something well over $30,000.

Now who was it who said that Linux people don't have a social conscience?

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Sam Varghese

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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.

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