So SCALE 8x went okay.
I was interviewed by the SCALE Public Relations team; you can see the video here.
I’d say we had the most diverse assortment of machines at any booth — something like 10 different machines on 5 architectures. Certainly we had a bunch of developers; we haven’t had a showing like this since SCALE 5x.
Everyone loves event pictures, so here’s the Gentoo team:
Left to right: vapier, nightmorph, antarus, nerdboy, wormo, omp, halcy0n, solar
Not pictured: blackace (he took the picture)
And now, the hardware running Gentoo! On the table, from left to right:
1. Beagleboard running E17 on the huge monitor
2. Hammer/Nail board by Tin Can Tools (in the clear orange-capped tube)
3. Blackfin development board (hooked up to the middle keyboard, and with a touchscreen running Doom)
4. deployed Blackfin module (that 2-inch square to the left of the wireless mouse)
5. my Core2 Thinkpad running KDE4
6. a mini-notebook
7. OLPC XO (green/white, on top)
8. PowerPC Walnut board (in the K’Nex case). Barely visible behind it is the laptop that’s tied in via serial port.
There were a few other Gentoo-powered laptops, subnotebooks, and smartphones demoed throughout the conference, but not all of ‘em are visible in this picture.
I mostly demoed KDE 4.3 on my laptop, since the desktop effects and eye candy proved to be a good draw, especially the “falling snowflakes” animation. Man, I love that thing! It’s a built-in KWin effect, so there’s nothing special to install. Now all I want is a “falling raindrops” effect on my desktop, without resorting to Compiz.
I did occasionally switch the laptop to Xfce when I wanted to save power, or just to showcase Gentoo’s flexibility. I got a good draw not when showing a standard Gentoo wallpaper, but when I showed off a desktop rather like this (clean version here). There were a buncha little kids that stopped by and oohed and ahhed over that for a bit.
The talks were rather disappointing this year. Several of my fellow devs stated that they “just plain sucked.” Basically, none of us attended because of the talks. There just weren’t any powerful draws. I was only vaguely interested in attending a couple of sessions, the ones on startup-up/embedded improvements and building a featherweight desktop. Didn’t actually get to see those, as the timing and draw was just kinda “meh.”
Instead, I found myself at the Mindstorms talk, which was very lackluster. I expected to see lots of toys in action, and videos, and whatnot. The speaker wasn’t at all engaging, and the single Lego robot was impossible to see, and it wasn’t working correctly for the entire presentation. I stopped by another session or two, but nothing grabbed my interest. I spent most of my time on the show floor, helping in the booth or wandering the floor. Speaking of which . ..
I stopped by the KDE booth to see the newest 4.4 and 4.5 stuff being demoed, and I also tried to help one of the devs figure out the build dependencies for one of the latest libraries. Man, source building on Ubuntu sucks. There’s some really, really nifty Plasma desktop stuff going on for small screens. The newspaper-like activity flow is something I wouldn’t mind using day-to-day on my workstation.
Another neat bit of 4.4/4.5 is the ability to switch your Plasma desktop widgets while still keeping your applications open in front of you. It’s sort of the opposite of workspace switchers, where each application group is on a separate virtual workspace, while the desktop remains fixed. I never bother with more than one workspace, but I do like the idea of switching the widgets behind whatever it is I’m working on.
The 4.4 improvements and upcoming 4.5 features are definitely enough to keep me interested in KDE, so I’ll leave it on my laptop and look forward to the day 4.4 is stabilized in Gentoo.
The Gnome and XBMC booths were just across the alley from our booth, but I didn’t get a chance to check out either. The Gnome guys blasted pounding techno music the whole conference, which gave all of us–even the ones without hangovers–good-sized headaches. The XBMC folks were running some pretty impressive demos on their Zotac MAG, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go over and chat with ‘em.
In the last few days, I’ve decided to put together a living room HTPC built around an Acer Aspire Revo and XBMC Live, and it woulda been good to see the thing properly demoed a couple of weeks ago. Still, from what I saw from the Gentoo booth, XBMC is one heck of an awesome app.
Our booth was fairly well trafficked, but overall it felt like attendance (and interest in Gentoo) was down from previous years. Take that with a huge grain of salt, though — while I felt like SCALE was more sparsely attended and the talks sucked, the actual numbers tell a different story. The event organizers say attendance was up more than 10% and there were more standing-room-only talks than ever before. So make of that what you will — but I might not go back next year if it’s going to be anything like my experience this year. There need to be more sessions that are relevant to my interests.
One of the high points of SCALE was meeting the folks interested in Gentoo, and definitely talking with our existing users, like the ever-loyal calculus from IRC. Thanks for coming by, folks!