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Monday, 18 January 2010 04:37

LCA2010 gets off the starting blocks

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Wellington sported a grey visage this morning, a time of day when geeks are normally sleeping off the effects of late-night hacking sessions and the excessive intake of coffee.


But this morning, no matter the hours they had kept, no matter the time difference of the various countries they have come from, and no matter the few stutters that are common in a little place like this, delegates turned up in numbers to the opening of the 11th Australian national Linux conference at the convention centre in Wellington.

Two who could not make it were the the Ruthvens, Andrew and Susanne, the co-organisers, who are reportedly down with a stomach bug, which their newborn child has also contracted.

After having taken the birth of a child and moving house in their stride, it looks like the bug is the straw that finally broke the camel's back.

In their absence, media liaison Glynn Foster did the honours at the formal - so far as the LCA can be described using such a word - opening of the conference, ably aided by sponsorship co-ordinator Andrew McMillan.

With the Ruthvens temporarily out of action, and Foster taking over the role of chief admin, McMillan has found himself busy tending to the media; he was on radio this morning, promoting the conference.

When 500 or 600 people descend on a city like Melbourne or Sydney, the effect is not as noticeable as when that number crowds into a small place like Wellington. Given the compact way in which this city is organised, the conference is a lot more visible to the rest of the populace.


This is the 11th year that the conference, which was born out of the dream of kernel hacker Rusty Russell, is taking place, on as big a scale as in previous years. Coincidentally, Russell is also a year older today and, fittingly, the LCA crowd put heart and soul into a rather hoarse rendition of the birthday song at the opening.

To kick things off, the conference organisers put together a neat little video presentation, taking the mickey out of their own city in many cases. But it did a wonderful job of promoting Wellington.

It was a humorous opening that did much to brighten the auditorium, a sombre room which is a fine mixture of the old and the new and capable of hosting a good many more than were present this morning.

Apart from the mini-conferences, the three days of main presentations and lightning talks, the organisers of every LCA  always try to cram as many things as possible into the five days of the conference and get as many people as possible involved.

Last year, the LCA devoted some effort to raising funds for the endangered Tasmanian devil. This year, the organisers have decided to support a charity called Life Flight which provides air ambulances to rescue accident victims and those who need medical aid. Their services are needed in a country like New Zealand due to its topography and the small population which is spread across several islands.

Despite being held miles away from the rest of the world, the LCA tends to attract a wide variety of people from different parts of the world. The conference is normally held in Australia, which was once described by comedian Jerry Seinfeld as being at the arse-end of the world.

New Zealand is even further away.

Yet many feel as senior Debian developer, the US-based Bdale Garbee, does: he always feels he should attend, whether he is giving a talk or not. Incidentally, Garbee's beard, which was sacrificed last year for the good of the Tasmanian devil, is back and in better shape.

Linux creator Linus Torvalds is another regular and is expected to show up in the next few days.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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