Expectations high at Linux conference in New Zealand

John "Maddog" Hall will consider parallels between open source software and music, addressing the risk that patents "kill off ideas instead of promoting them" at this year's Australasian Linux conference, to be held in Dunedin this week.

"Odd things about business in the large corporate world will (hopefully) be explained," he says, including "companies who really want to do the right thing, but cannot.

"The talk will, of course, partly be tongue-in-cheek, partly be around my collection of automated musical instruments, and partly have a real message," he says.

Talking about the latest version of the Linux kernel, David Miller will pay particular attention to the TCP stack and innovations such as TCP Segmentation Offload. This delegates the task of splitting up overlarge transmission packets to the network card, efficiently accommodating the maximum transmission unit (MTU) limitation of the medium, while still being able to send packets as large as 64KB.

Born and raised in South Africa, Mark Shuttleworth founded Thawte, a company specializing in digital certificates and internet privacy. He sold Thawte to US certificate king VeriSign in 1999 and founded HBD Venture Capital and The Shuttleworth Foundation.

The topic of his keynote address will be "improving collaboration between open source projects."

He has participated as a developer of the Debian distribution of Linux since the early 1990s and in 2004 he returned to the GNU/Linux world by funding the development of Ubuntu, a user-friendly version of Linux, through Canonical.

He founded the Ubuntu Foundation in 2005 and made an initial investment of $US10 million ($AU13.3 million). The foundation is used to pay Ubuntu contributors.

On the applications front, New Zealand speaker Chris Cormack will address the structure and successes of the open-source library administration system Koha, implemented in libraries from Horowhenua to Bolivia.

Irish "kernel hacker" Dave Airlie will cover the current state of Linux graphics drivers and plans for development.

"The current X.org XAA acceleration architecture is showing its age in light of the current usage patterns for desktop toolkits such as GTK and QT," he says.

"The Linux framebuffer drivers are not nearly as functional as their respective X.org drivers and have not gained much acceptance on x86 based platforms."

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