October 14-15, 2004, Gdańsk, Poland
by Mariusz Żynel
Solaris rules - I'm not going to convince anyone that when it comes to operating systems my opinions are unbiased, but what I've heard and saw during those two days confirms that statement once more ...in a very unbiased way.
The conference was held at the Technical University in Gdańsk. It was very easy to find the lecture room by a bunch of Sun Ray terminals staying at its front. There was 16 terminals or so, brought by Sun for attendees' convenience. They were powered by V240 box.
As for the audience, when the number of the registered on-line exceeded 200 registration form has been disabled. Eventually, there was about 120 attendees, mostly students, but there was also a numerous group of IT managers and system administrators.
According to what the organizers said, the event was planned as an underground conference by techies for techies. Indeed, most of the presentations were very technical and that's good from my view but I can't agree it was underground. 120 attendees is not the underground or we have a very numerous Unix underground in Poland.
Two things attracted the attendees: computational cluster made of 128 2-way Itanium nodes and ...Solaris Express media kit. The kit contained build 60 for x86 and everyone wanted to get one.
The program shows that the conference was dominated by Solaris. One of the planned topics was Linux 2.6, but it was hard to find a speaker, someone who not only read about the key features on the web, but worked with that version of the kernel and has some experience besides just running it.
As usual the vital part of conferences are unofficial gatherings at night. The meeting in a pub was also totally dominated by Solaris. It turned out that the conference audience can be divided into two groups: those who already tried Solaris and don't want to hear about anything else, and those who haven't done that yet.
It is easy to distinguish interesting presentations from the other by the number of questions. (p)tools, zones and DTrace were discussed to death and they seem to be the key features of Solaris that not only sysadmins will benefit from but also developers. Robert Miłkowski did an example installation of a zone and showed how DTrace can be applied to watch how an application or the kernel behaves. Everyone could see how easy and powerful these tools are.
The biggest problem of the conference was time. There was so much to say and show and so little time. We had a very good chance to share our experiences on a large and competent forum. Hope we will be able to attend such events more frequently.