Debconf6 day 2: Java is non-free, at last!

The first session in the morning that I attended was the BOF about Python. After an introduction to the current state by the Python maintainer (Matthias Klose) and a few other people we run overtime and the BOF was extended into another time slot. Also the session was plagued by the room switch hanging which affected both the network and the recording. It really looks that that strange situation with a bunch of python-foo, python2.3-foo and python2.4-foo packages will be fixed.

Later in the day guys from Intel gave a talk about some kind of data mining stuff they were doing with hardware database from Ubuntu. The tool was called Toppler (from Dilbert) and basically was a hardware database. They pondered about possibilities of getting some useful information from the huge pool of data, but the examples that they showed were just lame. For example they showed how you can get a list of 1234 reports relating to this wireless card, but that is not what I want to know - I want to know if it works and if it does not work, what can I do to fix it. The showed an example of an OEM entering his computers hardware configuration to see what distro works on that hardware - that is completely useless: as an OEM I at that point would already have chosen a distro and what I really would like to know is what will and what will not work from my hardware configuration in that distro, why it will not work and how to fix that. That would be approaching useful status - so far they only have a SQL DB with a simplistic web fronted. At the same time to give out that kind of information you would need much more datapoints to make a correlation - datapoints most of which can not be tested automatically and require user interaction on submitting. On the other hand the more user interaction they need, the less users will want to submit that data. They already have at least 10 times too many questions (there were 30 + options) if they really want this to be something that users will want to contribute to. Also there is no real direct motivation for users to contribute to that database - maybe OEM's have that kind of motivation, but they must decide to use Linux first. In short I only saw mountains of social and technical problems with this project and really little in terms of benefit. That's what you get when you have too much money to burn.

After that there was a "yearly" Ubuntu report from Mark Shuttleworth. Most of what Mark said was already widely known if you followed Ubuntu's development a bit. Dapper will release on 1st of June and will be supported for 3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the servers. Edgy Eft will be a developer driven highly experimental release that will be done in 4 months and its planning will be done in Ubuntu conference in Paris (18th-23rd June). In Dapper KDE is given equal weight to Gnome and in Edgy the same will be done to XFCE. There is a graphical installer - Ubiquity and a graphical upgrader that works around strange things that APT has not been designed to handle. Mark can only guess what will be in Edgy as developers will decide this one, but most probably Xen and XGL will be integrated, startup will be reworked by adding paralel init scripts with dependencies and maybe even APT will be replaced by some kind of SMART tool. I have not heard anything about it before and Mark also gave no further detail. but in any case Edgy promises to be "the Ubuntu equivalent of a release of Debian experimental". Way to go not to stick into the enterprise stability. I am really looking forward to that.

Another announcement came from Sun - thanks to hard work of many people the license of Sun Java was changed to allow it to be included in Debian non-free repository. FHS and Debian Policy compilant packages have been produced and are uploaded to Debian sid non-free. Congrats to all involved! Now we only to move it to main somehow.

Unfortunately I missed two BOF that I wanted to see due to scheduling changes that I did not follow at the time: i18n BOF and Debian representation BOF. I have been doing quite a bit of both during last years, so I wanted to be there, but missed it. Doh.

In the afternoon I was twice recruited by the organizers to do the group photo. Last year there was a huge collection of dSLR's around Debconf5, but this year either the dSLR owners did not come or did not want to lug their cameras across half the globe, so I with my Canon 350D and a few (cheap) lenses have become the de-fact photographer of the Debconf6. It was only natural that the group photo also had to be taken by the best camera around. I, naturally, am very honored by the opportunity even if that would mean that I myself am not on the group photo. I could just gimp myself into the corner of it after the fact :)

In any case the place to take the picture had to be found. The amphitheater where the Debconf5 group photo was taken was a perfect place, but lacking that a trick all the way back from Debconf3 could be employed - standing at a high place and take the picture at a sharp angle down. The best place for this that I found around here is the 10m diving tower - there is a platform aprx. 8 meters from the ground where one can clearly see to the back area of the tower where a large grass area is located. I still need to confirm whether I can take the group photo from there with my best lens (Canon 50mm f/1.8 II) and what amount of light will we have on time point when we have the ability to actually take the picture (18:00). There will still be a bit of a chance with the weather, so an alternate group photo time should also be planned. There will be an announcement mail that will probably go public before this email will. Oh and later in the evening I found a guy (sorry, names escape me is seconds) who has a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens which I will borrow from him for the group photo. That will make the photo a lot sharper and make us much more flexible to the group size which is very helpful.

Just before the dinner I want to see the saunas that i was told long ago. Basically it was a headed room 3x1 meter with a temperature control outside that was set to 0. Nobody uses the sauna here and that is no wonder - the whole place is like a large sauna. In the same club (just above the restaurant where we have all the meals now) there was a ping-pong table, two pool tables and a gym. In the gym I found a Mexican Gentoo spy who's mom was born in Riga, Latvia. The world is truly small.

After the dinner I sent out the group photo announcement email and then took a look at the Joey Hess's BOF about debian-installer. I snook into the talk to take a few photos and watched the rest via the webcast. Unfortunately all the people spoke very quietly there, so it was hard to distinguish their voices from the background noise. Please, do not do that! Speak up, people!

The tango practice took place between hacklabs tonight. Looked fun, but I would rather take a lot of pictures of it :)

On a final note I witnessed a Mao game in Spanish. That was only a bit more disturbing then the same game in English. Even while I do not speak any Spanish.

P.S. If you really like what I do with photos in this blog, it would be very nice if you would sponsor me a Pro account at Flickr. Otherwise my monthly traffic limit there (20 Mb) is nearly up with only select photos of two days of Debconf uploaded. I have now almost 2 Gb of photos stored on my laptop and the conference is only starting.