Herewith some notes and pix from ApacheCon 2005. Summary: sessions laid-back, hallways good, parties intense.

Parties · The Alaska Airlines jet taking me to San Diego had problems, so I arrived slightly after 1AM, to find a few of the Apache folks still having a lively time in the bar. These people like to stay up late and get loose and laugh. One of the parties was sufficiently good that a divinity showed up.

Party at Apachecon 2005

Dig the halo.

Sessions · At the opposite extreme, the actual sessions were remarkably quiet, civilized, and low-key. Verging, in fact, on boring. There are debates raging: WS-* vs. REST, EE vs. .NET vs. LAMP, Linux vs. Solaris vs. Windows. But you don’t hear about any of this stuff coming off the stage at ApacheCon. You do absolutely get a lot of extremely dense and valuable technical content that will improve your ability to produce, deploy, and use web-related software. Politeness is a good thing; still, a little more intensity would be nice.

Below, ASF chair Greg Stein addresses one of the opening plenaries.

ASF chair Greg Stein addresses the ApacheCon opening plenary

Keynote · Oh yes, I gave a speech. I talked about Derby (oops, “Java DB”) and Niagara and Beyond Java.

The Rest · For me the best part was the hallways and exhibit areas, where there were a lot of very smart people just hanging out, most with computers, mostly talking about pretty interesting stuff.

Covalent showed up with a T2000, which got a lot of attention. They had a little Thinkpad plugged into it and were running the ab benchmark to establish how many requests it could handle. Dan Price of the Solaris group decided he wasn’t satisfied with the numbers, so he buckled down and got to work on optimizing it.

Dan Price optimizing a Niagara

By the time he’d finished tweaking, he had it cranking through around 25,000 requests per second, which is good but not that impressive; then we looked and noticed that the poor little Thinkpad was totally red-lined, I’m surprised it didn’t start to melt; plus we were pumping 290 megabits/second or so through the gigabit ethernet wire, which is not bad at all for HTTP traffic.

For some reason, that machine kept all its fans turned on at all times, really remarkably loud, which seems a little off in a machine that’s advertised as running cool and being power-efficient. My own Ultra 20 runs quiet except when I ask it to do some hard work.

Long-time Apache stalwart Dirk-Willem van Gulik of @semantics decided there was something wrong with the fans running so hard, so he opened the top and took them all out.

Dirk-Willem van Gulik butchering a Niagara

After all, it’s a server-class machine, almost all parts field-replaceable, right? You just lift the hatch and pull out the fan.

Well yes, after he’d pulled all the fans out, it was indeed quieter. We didn’t have a console attached, so we don’t know exactly what happened to the poor little disemboweled thing; but after a little while, it wasn’t on the net any more.


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December 13, 2005
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