lca2008 — open day

Whoops, one last nerdlinger entry, and that’s just to give a quick report on Open Day. This year, we (HP) had a few ideas on how to make Open Day better (from our perspective), namely, giving away schwag and actually bringing a product running Linux. Good ideas, right?

On the first front, for some reason, the free shirts we wanted to give out ended up in Honolulu, so that was somewhat of a bust. On the plus side, we did have two HP r927 cameras to raffle away, which worked out really well.

As for the Linux part, we brought an HP MediaVault 2100, which is a cool little NAS running a 2.6.12 kernel and some oldish busybox installation. I’d spent about half an hour in Fort Collins grilling the developers about two weeks before departure, and had a nice little cheat sheet to help talk it up. Most importantly, I convinced the developer that he wanted to give me the root password to the machine because our audience at Open Day would care about it. And it all would have been great except…

It turns out that the 2100 can only do wired ethernet. It also turns out that we were situated at a table where the courageous conference organizers could not run a cable. Solution? A quick ‘apt-get install dhcp’, and then carefully double-checking to make sure the daemon was bound only to my wired port (so as not to completely destroy the wireless network), and with a final bit of magic in that HP laptops have built-in crossover capabilities, the MediaVault was happily obtaining a DHCP address from my machine, and I could open a root console on my laptop. Voila!

The demo was actually a great hit, which was surprising to me, but it turns out if you let a bunch of Linux nerds poke around on a neat little piece of hardware and cat some procfs and sysfs entries, they’re happier than cats in a twine factory. It’s the digital equivalent of kicking the tyres (as my colleage tpot put it so eloquently); doesn’t actually prove much but it’s quite satisfying nonetheless. One enterprising fellow tried to write and build a hello world, but gcc was interacting weirdly with busybox and it didn’t quite work. Oh well.

In any case, Open Day 2008 was a whopping success and it was quite satisfying to see people walk away with a positive impression of HP and open source. Ok, now I’m done with the techno-babble. I promise.