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.
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
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.
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
"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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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