The Oxford meeting - a report

Mark Ovens mark at
Sun Jul 9 21:05:04 BST 2000

The first FreeBSD UKUG Conference, held at the Moat House Hotel in
Oxford on 7th July, was an overwhelming success.

I only did a rough head-count but there appeared to be in excess of 40
people present.

Paul Richards opened the conference and gave a 3 hour presentation
about the Newbus architecture. Those present who do kernel development
work appeared to benefit from the technical details that Paul provided
as it stimulated many questions and much discussion from the floor.
Whilst much of it went straight over *my* head I did learn something
about the inner workings of the kernel and device drivers.

We then broke for a rather nice lunch in the hotel's restaurant (that
chilli was hot). Re-fuelled we made our way back to the conference
room for the afternoon session.

Brian Somers started the afternoon session with a presentation about
the workings of PPP, not only the ppp(8) and pppd(8) programs but the
protocol itself, the various authentication schemes (including the "M$
extensions"), and how badly broken BT Internet's setup is ;-).

Next to connect his laptop to the projector was Josef Karthauser whose
presentation was about keeping up to date with FreeBSD. Setting up and
using cvsup(1), how cvsup(1) works, making and installing kernels, and
a detailed explanation of the FreeBSD source tree (now I know why HEAD
is called HEAD and not CURRENT; thanks Joe). A couple of people
especially appeared to benefit from Joe's presentation as, judging by
their questions, they had either tried to do a source update and
failed or were considering it but weren't 100% sure how to go about

After yet more coffee the final presentation started. Nik Clayton gave
a stunning and memorable demonstration of Microsoft's Scandisk in
action and a very ornate Windows 98 desktop :) (Nik, a suggestion:
Boot your laptop *before* plugging in the projector).

I won't detail the (real) contents of Nik's presentation as it was a
major announcement about the future of FreeBSD in the UK and I'm
certain that an official (and more detailed/accurate than I could
provide) statement will be made on this list soon. All I will say is
that it is excellent and exciting news.

One thing about Nik's presentation that I will mention left me
stunned. That was the announcement that I, and Ben Smithurst, had been
proposed (by Jeroen Ruigrok van der Werven <asmodai at>) and
approved (by Nik) as new FreeBSD committers (initially for the docs).
I still not sure that I have made enough of a contribution to the
project to warrant this honour (and a e-mail address) but
I am pleased to accept and intend to increase the level of
contribution I make. Thanks guys, I really appreciate this.

The evening consisted of the seemingly mandatory Beer 'n' Curry. We
started off in The Plough just down the road from the Moat House
(thanks to Paul missing "turn left" from his directions I, who had to
go and check into another hotel, spent half an hour wandering around
Wolvercote trying to find the right pub :)) before moving on to
Jamal's Balti House (the scene of the first Oxford meeting 2 years
ago). Much discussion about the days' events/announcements and FreeBSD
in general ensued over a good selection of Indian food before we all
drifted off home or to hotels around 11:30.

As I said at the start of this post, the Conference was an
overwhelming success. The quality of the presentations was very high.
I am sure that everyone who attended will join me in thanking Paul,
Nik, Brian and the other organizers for the hard work they put into
arranging the Conference.

There is already talk of arranging another in 3-6 months time, and
hopefully they will become regular events, along with install-a-thons
(perhaps that ought to be the basis of the next meeting).

Finally, to those that couldn't make it, you missed a great day. I
realize that it was announced at rather short notice (for reasons
related to Nik's announcement about FreeBSD's future) and so may have
made it impossible for many people to make arrangements. Hopefully any
future conferences/meetings will be planned further ahead and I would
encourage you to do everything you can to avoid missing it.

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