Bellingham Linux Fest 2006

Myself, Wim, Dana, T&C went down this year for the annual Linux Fest Northwest held at Bellingham at the technical college. We started out with five people stuffed in a not bad car for 4, but it was only a 30 minute drive down, so it wasn’t all that bad.
The first presentation we all went into was one on Linux Virtualization by Ilya Baimetov, talking about using OpenVZ and Virtuozzo (we had originally thought it was a talk about Xen). Quite interesting, though we missed the first half of the lecture, where they explained the differences between things like Xen and OpenVZ. The config for OpenVZ seemed a bit easier though, at least as far as controlling the virtual machines, though as Dana pointed out (that sharp security guy he is), that being able to execute commands like:

# vzctl exec machine123 ps ax

from the host machine with no authentication to the client basically means if the host machine is rooted every client is not only 0wned, it’s also able to poke around in the clients machine unauthenticated by standard authentication the client may have set up (normally this would be the client required to give the hosting company a root password or similar in case Something Bad happens) an no audit log (though I’m not sure what sort of logging or audit trail this system has. It’s a relatively new system though, and we didn’t see all the talk. I didn’t realize there was an alternative to Xen out there though.
The second talk was a similar one, or so we thought, called Offsite Virtual Colocation Servers by Keith Lofstrom in the same room. It had “virtual” in the title, so we were sucked into the buzzword vortex. It turned out to be a far more simplistic talk (to us) about how to set yourself up with offsite backup / access through a hosted virtual server.
Next up, lunch! BBQd salmon was the standard fare, so we left the classroom to discover that the lovely sun we had driven down in had turned into pouring rain. At this point the 5 of us broke up and T and I got salmon and then wandered through the sellers market, completely ignoring / forgetting about the third talk. When they set these things up you’d think they’d give a bit of time for lunch right?
The last one that J and I (who I met up with down there with his friend M) was the Desktop Innovation on Linux at Novell with Ted Haeger (who noted his appearance on his own blog). This was probably my favorite talk of the three, even though I knew the most about it.
Mostly the talk was on tools like the Banshee music player (playing “Come as You Are” by Nirvana as we speak), the Tango icon project, F-Spot (still a bit immature for my needs/wants I think) and mono. The end of the presentation had the ultra-sexy XGL demo as well. It was nice to have someone else affirm that the eye-candy does actually have real-world use as well. I know that it had to somewhere, but hadn’t figure out just how. His example was a visually impared person at one of his other talks wanted/needed the “zoom” technology it to do things like browse webpages that used flash and wouldn’t let you increase font size. Anyway, Ted was a really funny and engaging speaker who was quite enjoyable even if the talk went a bit long.
Other than hitting a Red Robin on the way back and enjoying a pint of a non-sucky beer, it was another successful year.