May 31, 2006

Second Red Hat Summit gets underway

Author: Joe Barr

NASHVILLE, TN -- The second annual Red Hat Summit got underway today at the Opryland Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Matthew Szulik, Red Hat's CEO, formally opened the event with his keynote address being the first of three days worth of keynotes, parties, and presentations.

Susan Montaner and I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, last year for the inaugural Red Hat Summit, so I talked her into assisting me again this year. We met two others on our flight from Austin: one from Dell, one from IBM, and both doing presentations. Amit Bhutani, from Dell's PowerEdge Server group, and Chris Almond, from IBM and the author of the Solaris to Linux Migration Redbook. Chris gave us a tip on how to solve Sudoku games after seeing us struggling with the Easy game in the back of airlines magazine. He says his wife is addicted to the game, but he prefers Go.

The festivities kicked off at 8:30 a.m. this morning, so most of the estimated 800 attendees checked into to the sprawling Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center the day before. The early arrivals gave sponsors like IBM, Dell, NEC, Unisys, Oracle, AMD, Intel, and others a chance to show off their wares in small booths set up around the registration area. Among the faces in the crowd, we spotted MySQL's Jay Pipes chatting with an IBMer standing next to a brand-spanking new IBM Z90 mainframe.

Red Hat's Open Sauce - click to enlarge

Dell started the nightly parties rolling last night by hosting a welcome reception a five minute walk -- or brief shuttle bus ride -- away from the hotel itself, in an open air setting immediately adjacent to the world famous Grand Ole Opry House. Many of the attendees at the reception were sporting the IBM-provided bright red straw cowboy hats given away during registration. Every table had its own bottle of "Open Sauce" BBQ sauce, and the wait-people reminded people throughout the evening that they were free to take the bottle back home with them.

The opening keynote

Szulik's keynote began with a remix of the popular Truth Happens video that opened last year's show, and one of his first orders of business was to acknowledge Tim Kiernan, who created the video in 2003.

He then went on to talk about what the Summit holds this year, and mentioned the open source luminaries who will be giving talks at this year's event: Cory Doctorow, Eben Moglen, and Nicholas Negroponte. Bios for all three can be found on the Red Hat speakers page.

Rather than speaking the entire hour, Szulik then called up teams of Red Hat employees to discuss four important projects Red Hat is leading or participating in: a community portal called 108, an open source testing project, a collaborative "social computing" project called Mugshot, and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

The various engineers, project leaders, and managers associated with each of those projects then took the stage and spoke briefly about them. All of these projects will be covered more fully in talks during the next two days.

In his summary, Szulik contrasted the importance of "reputation capital" above brand in the world of open source, where transparency is taken for granted. The OLPC project, and the other three projects mentioned Szulik discussed, all have transparency and collaboration as a central theme. He mentioned that intellectual property rights, patents, and DRM are other areas which should be important to all open source companies.

There will be additional keynotes tomorrow and Friday morning, and then break-out sessions along nine different tracks the remainder of each day. There will be more parties tonight and Thursday evening. We'll be reporting each day with all the latest buzz. Right now I'm off to hear Red Hat's Chris Runge do an Executive Overview on SELinux.

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