Apache Week
   
   Issue 209, 28th July 2000:  

Copyright 1996-2005
Red Hat, Inc.

In this issue


Apache Week had the pleasure of visiting Monterey in July to report on the 4th O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention. In the last issue (Apache Week 208) we reported on the start of the conference and the first two days of tutorials.

Wednesday started as usual with the complimentary breakfast. With over 1900 people registered for the session days, it was pretty packed and available seats were hard to find, but the food was plentiful. We skipped the opening keynote so we could work out which sessions to attend. At times there were as many as 12 simultaneous talks in different tracks, making it difficult to choose what to report on. The majority of the focus of the conference was on Perl, taking half of the tracks. There were also two tracks focused solely on Apache and even a track dedicated to PHP.

Larry Wall on Perl 6.0

The first Apache talks of the day were unfortunately scheduled opposite the Perl "State of the Onion Address" given by Larry Wall. Larry is well known for his offbeat and humourous keynote speeches and this talk was no exception, leaving the Apache tracks with smaller audiences than they perhaps may have had otherwise. It was during this session that Larry announced the start of work on Perl 6.0 as well as giving an entertaining performance playing various musical instruments including a saw [photo, jpeg, 65k]. Our favourite quote was "Perl is (another) tool in the toolbox ... a tool that just got out of hand". More details of the Perl 6 announcement are available. Meanwhile, Ken Coar was giving a talk on securing web pages with Apache including the important issues when creating .htaccess files and Daniel Lopez Ridruejo was talking about the popular Comanche GUI.

Michael Tiemann, CTO of Red Hat, gave an enthusiastic talk entitled "Open Source, The Internet, and Apache: The Fates of Computer Technologies". He discussed in some detail the characteristics of how societies have evolved and flourished (or otherwise) over many thousands of years - looking for a historical precedent by which to view the changing world of software and the social engineering that open source movement brings us. This talk was inspired by "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamon, and that book's attempts to answer a fundamental question: why was material wealth distributed so unequally across different peoples of the world? In particular the question was explored as to whether open source could be as pivotal in altering the course of information technology as guns, germs, and domestication of animals could be in altering the course of societies. A number of intriguing questions were raised by the speaker and the talk was refreshingly scientific for a talk on "open source philosophy", however the time allocated for the presentation was simply too short to adequately explore these issues. Other Apache-related talks examined the Apache XML project and WebDAV.

The last session of the day was the "State of Apache" talk hosted by Roy Fielding. The first half of the talk was a presentation on the Apache Software Foundation, its aims and its goals. The presentation highlighted how Apache is now much more than just a web server, with both the Apache XML and Apache Java initiatives having many sub-projects all under the Apache license.

Free beer and open source software have long been associated (in fact "beer" is mentioned twice in the Apache server source code comments) and Wednesday night proved this with several parties and events offering free food and beer to the attendees. We managed to visit the Open Source Caribbean Jam, and both the Eazel and Jabber.com after-hours parties before we ran out of sobriety.

Tim O'Reilly on Apache and the future of open source

Thursday morning kicked off with a keynote session by Tim O'Reilly. Tim is a fan of Apache and his talk was full of great quotes about the server. He recalled that it wasn't so long ago that the press really didn't understand open source software.

"We found from the book publishing program that Open Source programs such as Apache really mattered.... The Apache group have done a great job of picking up on the side technologies and picking up on the things that need doing..."

Jabber was highlighted as a cool new technology because of its fundamental XML-centric infrastructure which gives insights into the future of how the net will be used. Mozilla was also mentioned as energing in other projects, such as in a development environment for Perl and as a desktop interface.

Finally he talked about the move away from applications that are distributed to ones that are run as a service. Here, licences such as the GPL break down as the licence is triggered by the distribution not the use (services such as Mapquest are a good example of this). This will require a reformulation of what open source means, "Internet enabled information is the new open source"

Later in the day the architecture behind the Salon.com site was examined in the talk "Industrial Strength Publishing". The presentation focused on their content management system which was built using mod_perl, XML and Java technologies on Apache and their investigations of other technologies such as Zope. The presentation given is In "High Scalability for SSL and Apache", various load balancing techniques currently in use by high-volume web sites were examined together with the impact when SSL and cryptography overheads are brought into play.

Exhibition

The exhibition area was very popular with Apache-related companies such as Zend Technologies and Covalent Technologies making an appearance. With over 30 exhibitors there were plenty of free promotional t-shirts to add to our collection. Our pick of the freebies were the noisy flashing ping-pong balls from collab.net which we thought might amuse the x-ray operators on our flight back, and the Sleepycat software tinned sweets. Oh, and lets not forget the Apache Week postcards of course.

Overall Impressions

Even if you were not interested in any of the other tracks such as Perl or Python, there were plenty of talks and tutorials relevant to Apache users, although a number of them were direct copies or updates of talks given at previous Apache conferences such as ApacheCon this summer. Apache Week talked to a large number of the attendees of the conference and the overall impression was very positive. The only real complaint was in the number of simultaneous talks, making it very hard to choose a schedule. We would have liked to see more slots for talks during each day, with at least another day added onto the conference. It will be interesting to see how the conference time is scheduled next year as interest in Perl and Apache can only increase and it is likely that technologies such as XML will receive their own tracks.

Next week...

Apache Week will be back to normal next week and catching up on the Apache news and features from the last few weeks. It is likely that Apache 1.3.13 will be released in August and Windows users should definitely upgrade when it is made available.

Although Apache Week is an O'Reilly Network affiliate, O'Reilly had no editorial control over this review of their conference. Apache Week will give you our unbiased opinion of all the conferences we attend that have things of interest to Apache users and developers. See you at ApacheCon Europe in October!


Comments or criticisms? Please email us at editors@apacheweek.com