On the week of 16 January, Hobart hosted the 2017 Linux.conf.au - a week long event for the free and open-source community to share knowledge, and continue its long-running reputation for being the leading Linux conference in the Australasian region.
The event was well-attended by delegates coming from as far as Europe and North America, including well-recognised names like Mozilla, Wikipedia, and GitHub, as well as key Linux vendors like SuSE, Red Hat, and Oracle. With plenty of networking opportunities, it was an excellent time to reinforce existing relationships, as well as make new contacts and share experiences.
Linux.conf.au has a professional audio-visual team working hard to record all of the talks and upload them for the general public.
There were several themes that were clear from the conference: The changing political landscape of open source software, and how it affects its sustainability. The reducing demand for permanent servers, and the move to serverless infrastructure. And the ever-increasing focus on continuous testing and shrinking deployments.
Several talks in the conference, including most of the keynote speakers, highlighted the gradual change in the audience of open-source projects, and the new pressures experienced by popular projects, especially on their project maintainers. The number of non-contributing users has significantly escalated over the last decade, and the ratio of maintainers to users has continued to increase, while user expectations of stability and reliability of software has continued to increase. Over time, this has meant more corporate stewardship over important open source projects, but still poses risks to projects maintained by a small number of individuals that are embedded widely across the Internet. It echoed the continuing call of "get involved", and encouraging organisations to give back to the community - whether in developer time, or by financial stewardship, or even by sponsoring a local Meetup - to ensure the projects we rely on are still around in the future.
One of my favourite areas of discussion was the future of servers and security. As we move towards more Infrastructure as Code, microservices, and Cloud-like services, we rely less and less on traditional infrastructure or even virtual machines. A standout talk in this area was on cloud architecture security by Casey West.
Nevertheless, it's clear that solutions are still required when a fully Cloud-like architecture isn't possible, as demonstrated by Tom Eastman in his talk with a great explanation of things you can do when you really need an on-site appliance, The Opposite of Cloud.
It was also great to see the increased focus on testing, as well as mass testing on alternative architectures, as demonstrated in a talk by Daniel Axtens - it shows the scalability and speed of Docker, and the scale of testing that is now possible.
As well as talks, there were also great direct learning opportunities and tutorials. I personally enjoyed GitHub's session - and my colleague Glen attended and recommended the Docker from Scratch Tutorial. These tutorials are an added bonus to in-person conference attendees, with experienced people available to help you learn.
Linux.conf.au is a highly-recommended conference, and a great way to keep up with the changes in the open source community, from new and interesting projects, and meeting some of the creators and maintainers, and to see the shape of things to come.