BLUG MEET - 20th February 2004

Here are the minutes of the February 2004 BLUG Meet. It's a pretty long one as this was a special meet. I do hope I have captured all the points of the meet. My apologies if I have missed anything. The Meet was not a usual one and it was not held at the usual place. This was a special meet and required a venue that could accommodate a lot of people. Hence, the meet was held at the Chancery Hall in Atria Hotel on Palace Road. We had 110 people during this month's meet. In this meet we had a special guest, Brian Behlendorf, one of the co-founders of the Apache Software Foundation. He was visiting India and during the course of his visit, he had attended Linux Asia 2004 in Delhi and while in Bangalore, the BLUG invited Brian to speak during this month's meet and he kindly obliged.

This was a much anticipated meet and everyone seemed excited and looking forward to it from the outset as we were waiting outside the hall before the meet. The registration process started at 6 pm and people started entering the hall at a brisk pace. Atul came in with his laptop and was sorting out the correct presentation to be projected. After the correct presentation was found, it was finally projected on the screen.

The BLUG Co-ordinator, Kartik N kicked off the meet at 6:45 pm with his welcome address and stating the fact that this meet was special as we had a special speaker. Kartik introduced the guest speaker, Brian Behlendorf, the co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation to the crowd with a tumultuous applause. Kartik first ran through his presentation about the BLUG and its activities. This was basically done to give an overview of ourselves and our activities to the first timers at the meet as well as to Brian. Kartik's presentation about the BLUG comprised of the contents like our monthly meets organized to share ideas on a wide spectrum of topics. Having theme based meets every month, the various mailing lists viz., tech, non-tech, programming, jobs and special interest group lists like LLI and IPv6. There are over 2500 subscribers on these lists which was revealed during Kartik's talk. Then Kartik talked about the BLUG's activities like participating in events like IT.COM 99/2000, Bang Linux 2000/2001 and of course our own event, the Linux Bangalore / 200x series. Kartik then got nostalgic as to how Linux Bangalore / 200x came into being with our first event in 2001. The LB/200x events are recognized by the Governments of Karnataka and the Union Government in Delhi. LB/2003 attracted more speakers from abroad than the previous events as mentioned by Kartik. After this brief synopsis about the BLUG and its activities, Kartik mentioned about Brian being in India for a week and attending Linux Asia 2004 and coming down to Bangalore on his way to Chennai and Sri Lanka. The BLUG decided to make use of this visit to speak at our Meet and then the stage was handed over to Brian.

Brian started off with his talk about a brief background about himself and his journey into the Apache software and Open Source Software. Brian mentioned about how he was working for gopher and later for the Wired Magazine and maintaining web servers for Wired and AT & T. Way back then, the NCSA web servers were in use. Brian and his colleagues were mostly involved in fixing defects and adding new features to the web server software. After NCSA closed down in 1994, Brian and 10 of his buddies combined and collected the fixes that were developed. These fixes were combined and a new web server software was created which was called as Apache.

Brian then mentioned as to how the name Apache was coined for this web server. It is believed that the last Native American tribe that survived the European settlements in America was called as Apache. Another pun that was intended towards the coining of this name was since this web server was a collection of patches, it was "A Patchy" server. Hence the name Apache. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) was founded in March 1995. Concerned about a single company dominance on the web, http was proposed as the default protocol for the web. Companies then started using the Apache web server for hosting websites. In 1998, when Netcraft conducted a survey on the most widely used web servers, Apache was growing at a rapid pace and today as per Brian's revelation, Apache is now being used on 60% of all web servers.

Many software vendors began contributing to the development of Apache. Brian cited the example of IBM who were having their own web server, then switched to Apache as a standard. Brian then mentioned about how the ASF meets once a year to add new members to the foundation based on their contributions to Apache. Some of the other activities of the ASF include building OSS communities with software companies, financial companies and government departments. Brian also mentioned about 40 engineers in the US and in Chennai co-ordinate to do work for Brian's company which he started on the way Apache worked. He had started Collabnet after he had received some funds. Brian was very happy to be here and then he threw open the meeting by inviting questions from the audience. And what a round of questions and answers it was !

The first question was from Atul about SCO's lawsuit against the OSS community and their fight with IBM and Novell over infringement of UNIX copyrights in the Linux code. Brian assured the audience that SCO is fighting a losing battle and it will start to lose in the US courts. SCO's stock price as per Brian will plummet downwards and he also assured with a note of confidence that the SCO lawsuit will be resolved by the end of this year. Brian then faced a barrage of questions from all sections of the audience on various topics like the US legal system and the SCO lawsuit background and how the OSS community can help towards resolving it, the verification process in the ASF for various proposed bug fixes and architectural changes in Apache, how Tomcat was founded and Geromino which has a minimal implementation of J2EE standards, Eric Raymond asking Sun to release Java to the OSS community and Brian's views on that, the future of the XFree86 community and the difficulty that developers face towards managing it. Brian cited the excellent way as to how Linus Torvalds manages the changes to the Linux kernel.

Various other questions were also asked about how OSS is used on the 64-bit architecture for which Brian mentioned that AMD have approached the 64-bit architecture with Athlon and Opteron much better than Intel with their Itanium family. Brian then answered a question about Novell's acquisition of Ximian and Suse. Brian mentioned that Novell understood the value of OSS and the audience was also assured that there has been no negative impact as a result of these acquisitions. An interesting question was asked about the feather logo for the Apache software. Brian replied that the feather logo was a symbolic representation of the Native American Apache tribe and this was an apt symbol for the software as well.

Answering all these questions, we couldn't resist it any longer and a member of the audience asked a question about Microsoft's leak of the Windows source code on the net. Brian replied that the OSS community has neglected this leak since no one is interested in implementing any bits or pieces of Windows source code in any Open Source Software ! Thank heavens for that ! Another interesting question was asked referring to Linus' statement on 2004 and 2005 being the year of the Linux desktop and non-technical people using Linux on the desktop as easily as technical people. Brian mentioned that due to the growing phenomenon of the Linux desktop with GNOME and KDE, Microsoft may be forced to give away Windows but may still retain Office. Today Open Office has 90% of the functionality of MS Office but the tendency is to use only 10% of the capability which is a good thing for Open Office in the words of Brian.

Then Brian answered another question about how to circumvent the implementation of a broken web server & PHP for which Brian replied that by making Apache multi-threaded and having more RAM on the Server would help. The final question was asked by Atul, who co-incidentally happened to ask the first question during this session, as to whether Brian could come down to Bangalore during December 2004 and speak at Linux Bangalore / 2004. Brian happily consented which pleased the entire audience. Everyone at the BLUG would look forward towards Brian speaking at LB / 2004 ! Brian ended his talk with a roaring applause from the audience and the stage was handed back to Kartik N.

Kartik thanked Brian and then announced another important event. The date of the meet, 20th February happened to be the Birthday of one of our first BLUG Member, Atul Chitnis. Kartik however mentioned that it was the Birthday of the oldest BLUG Member with a pun intended. A delicious looking chocolate cake with loads of icing was brought to the podium and Atul was requested to blow the candles and perform the honours by cutting the cake. Jessie and Co. started singing Happy Birthday and my singing couldn't be heard in all this din ! After the cake was massacred, oops ! cut, Kartik once again thanked Brian and the audience for making this meet successful.

The announcement was made for the food being ready and everyone left their seats to indulge in having some food, socializing with friends and meeting up with new people. Even during the food session, Brian was surrounded by enthusiastic BLUG members and the question and answer session seemed to have continued. I took this chance to ask my question about how various OS vendors like Sun, IBM and Novell contribute towards porting Apache on non-Open Source OSes like Solaris, AIX and Novell NetWare. Brian did mention that there are Apache developers working on the payrolls of these companies who contribute to the ASF. When asked about whether Microsoft contributes towards ASF for the Apache version on windows, off the record, there are some Microsoft employees who do some work for the ASF as members of the foundation and not as representatives of Microsoft! Wow ! That must be some piece of news ! Coming back to the food, the menu comprised of some good stuff like Pav Bhaji, Veg. Samosas, Uttappams and an assortment of various cakes. The meet ended with everyone indulging in having food, socializing and making friends.

Well, that is all for this meet BLUGgers ! It was the best meet of the year so far, considering the fact that its only the second meet of the year. We do hope to have many more meets like this during the year. See you all the next meet until then Happy Tuxing !




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