OSCON 2017 recap: Software people, my people

on Jun 8, 17 • by Justin Reock • with No Comments

OSCON is not just a bunch of booths with people hawking their solution-du-jour, it is a bunch of people who love open source and love the communities who provide it...

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This year, our booth was situated next to the booth for MariaDB. MariaDB is the FOSS community equivalent of MySQL, and is representative of one of the boldest moves in the history of open source. So, you can imagine my astonishment when Michael “Monty” Widenius, the creator of MySQL and ultimately the founder of MariaDB casually walked into the booth next to ours. I introduced myself, gushing, to say the least, and he received my compliments with casual grace.

I had to run to a conference call, and when I came back to our booth I was informed by my colleague Aldin (read his OSCON recap here) that Monty wanted to talk with me. Specifically, he wanted to talk with me about a problem he was having with his OpenSUSE-powered laptop. We were advertising our Linux expertise, and he was hoping one of us could have a look at it. After about 10 nerve-wracking minutes, on a Finnish keyboard no less, I’d sussed out the problem and told him what steps to take to fix it. It’s not every day that a personal hero needs a favor from you.

In that moment, though, he wasn’t Monty, apotheosized creator of the most pervasive OSS database in the world, and I wasn’t the humble lead architect of the Rogue Wave Open Source Support team. We were just two guys hacking around on a Linux laptop, trying to get the Grub loader to do what we wanted it to do. That’s why I love OSCON. It’s not a bunch of booths with people hawking their solution-du-jour, it is a bunch of people who love open source and love the communities who provide it. Software people. My people.

The logos ranged. Google, Microsoft, and IBM all had a strong presence there. Yes, you heard that right. Microsoft and IBM — killing it at an open source convention. My how the times do change. We also saw newer startups like Containership, who are ushering in a new generation of container-based deployment solutions. Speaking of containers, I was impressed with the range of verticals present. The last couple of years it seems like 80 percent of the booths I’d visit at various conferences were presenting some sort of “new” way to orchestrate with containers. That seems to have slowed a bit this year, and we saw solutions ranging across the entire stack, from persistence and storage to repositories and build tools.

I picked up a fidget spinner for my daughter from the Pluralsight booth, and got a chance to speak with some of their curators about how happy we are with their educational content. I’m proud to admit that I brought Pluralsight into Rogue Wave a couple years ago, and we’ve gotten tremendous value from it. Then I was off to speak with the EFF about security and privacy. I got to hear about machine learning trends from the Watson folks at IBM, and the TensorFlow hackers at Google. I had a great discussion about women in technology with ChickTech, an organization promoting diversity and equality in the workplace.

The entire experience, as it always does, drove home the point that open source has found a place in all areas of innovation. Community development has kickstarted modernization in so many areas of our lives, and will form the foundation for the next century of technological progress. The freedom to deploy a sophisticated infrastructure, using ownerless code, is a force of nature the likes of which we haven’t seen since the backyard tinkerers during the turn of the century. Nowadays, connected at the speed of light, and with the ability to collaborate instantaneously, these tinkerers have become the single biggest force in software development, despite decades of naysaying and disbelief. I’m truly proud to be a part of this industry, and can’t wait to see what it comes up with next.

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