Apache Guide: ApacheCon Europe
October 30, 2000
Last week, I was in London for ApacheCon 2000. In a break from my usual subjects, this will be a brief overview of the conference, touching on the highlights and some of the things that were talked about there.
Combining a technical conference and a family vacation can be a dangerous thing to do, since both of them require your full attention. So we went to London a week earlier, so that we would have some time to see the sights before the conference started. London is a pretty cool place, in both senses of the term, and we had a good time looking around, but often wished that we had dressed a little warmer. (Editor's note: I was lucky enough to have dinner with Rich, his family, and Ken Coar at ApacheCon. His daughter is cuter than a button.)
OK, enough about our vacation. ApacheCon started Monday morning, bright and early, with a welcome by Ken Coar, the vice president of the Apache Software Foundation, and another writer for ApacheToday.com. It was still rather early, so we were still trying to get moving. There were already some technical problems, with the network not quite functional yet, and so Ken had to work around this and various other problems.
Lucent had signed on to provide wireless networking, but did not actually end up doing so, so several folks brought their own personal wireless networking equiment and set up a wireless network which worked pretty well most of the time.
After Ken's welcome, I attended the Apache Projects Overview, led by Daniel Lopez Ridruejo, the author of Comanche, and a Covalent Technologies employee. Daniel talked about the various projects under the ASF umbrella, how they are organized, and, in particular, how the Apache Server is organized, how it works, and how the development process operates.
In the next hour, as much as I wanted to attend Ryan Bloom's talk about Apache 2.0, I had to attend the talk about Apache on Windows, because I was the speaker. I talked about Apache 1.3 running on Windows, and tricks and tips of setting it up and keeping it running.
Because there were so many sessions, and so little time to cram them all in, lunch ran concurrently with some sessions, so one had to either go without, or choose to skip some to go eat. This is a problem with any conference, and the planning committee actually did a fantastic job scheduling sessions so that you could, for the most part, attend things that were along a certain area of interest.
After lunch, I went to Ryan's talk about modules on Apache 2.0. 2.0 gives modules much more control over the order in which they are called, and how they interoperate with other modules. Filters are a new way for content to be modified while it is on the way out to the client. Some very cool things are going into 2.0. In answer to the question that was asked every 5 minutes ("When is 2.0 coming out?"), Ryan said that we could expect a beta release soon. For some definition of soon. As with any Open Source project, things are ready when they are ready, which is when people have time and motivation to work on it. If you need something sooner, download the code and start working.
At 3 p.m., I gave a introductory talk about the Apache Server, aimed at beginners that were at the conference to figure out what this Apache thing is all about. It was very well attended, and generated some really good questions that I'll need to roll back into the presentation for the next time, and some which might turn into good articles! :-)
On Monday Evening, IBM hosted a social event at The Rock, which is one of London's hottest night spots. We took busses to a place on the Thames, within view of Big Ben and the London Eye, and enjoyed an evening of VERY loud music, drinks and snacks, VR video games, and massages. This was a fun time, but not a particularly good time to talk shop, since it was so loud, and the open bar did not do much to foster technical conversations.
There was a raffle at the end of the evening, in which I won a lovely IBM bathrobe.
The evening was sponsored by WebSphere, an IBM product based on the Apache Server.
The rest of the week moved at about the same pace as Monday. Some highlights:
Douglas Adams, the author of the popular "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" series of books, as well as the "Dirk Gently" detective books, gave a talk entitled "Living in a Virtual World." In his talk, Adams talked about the ability of the human mind to deal with concepts entirely foreign to our understanding, and the amazing fact that things that amaze us so much now will be completely commonplace to our children. The talk was amusing, but very insightful, and encouraged us, in the words of Alan Kay, to predict the future by inventing it.
Rather than having some governing body hand down to us The Way Things Are, we are, in a very real sense, reversing this centuries-old order of things, and, more than any other generation, we are seeing a move to a world where the common people dictate the way that things should be. The Internet, of course, is a huge part of this shift, as we are able to be the source of information, rather than passive recipients of it. In our lifetime, the old saw that "the freedom of the press belongs to everyone that owns one" has lost its humor, and become a reality, where huge numbers of people are able to have direct access to the publishing media.
Jim Jagielski, who runs jaguNET, a web hosting and Interenet Service provider, gave a very informative talk about how one might go about setting up and running a web hosting company, based on the Apache server. He recommended that one focus on certain niche markets, such as secure servers, or PHP, in order to set oneself apart from the mass of other providers.
William Rowe gave a demonstration of steps that one might go through to secure an installation of Apache Server on Windows 2000, and various things that one might do in general to secure a Windows 2000 server that will be on the Internet. Several things did not go quite according to plan during the presentation, but it gave a lot of useful tips about what one needs to lock down to prevent a machine from being compromised.
In the closing session, Ken wrapped up the conference, introduced the core ASF developers, and opened things up for comments and questions. We were all pretty worn out from the conference, and there were rather few questions, but a lot of suggestions as to what might be done differently next time.
ApacheCon 2001 will be held April 4-6 in Santa Clara, CA. We hope to see you there.