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Software Freedom Day, PLUG West and MythTV Seminar

It’s been a busy week for Linux stuff here in the Philadelphia area.

Last Saturday was Software Freedom Day. Ubuntu Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area Linux Users Group teamed up to do demos and hand out Ubuntu disks and disks with a bunch of Free Software for Windows at the monthly Philadelphia Area Computer Society. The turnout was about 75 people, the demos included one by my husband on Audacity (which was helpfully bundled on the free software CD – what luck!). While the Debian machine Michael brought was being used for Audacity demos, the Xubuntu PC I brought was monopolized for much of the event by a young boy who was entranced with the default Gnome games – I’m glad I installed those! I could use some recommendations as to what to install next time though, this machine was a 700mhz P3 with something like 258M RAM and a standard issue graphics card, so I couldn’t do any really impressive beryl stuff or anything, but I’m sure there are cool GUI apps out there that will wow the crowds even with limited resources.

A huge thanks to Jim and Randy for the piles of CDs they managed to bring. Jim signed us up as an official team at SFD so we got the balloons and stickers and all that fun stuff from the SFD folks. It was neat to see some of the same people from our presentations back in May return and ask questions about the CDs we gave out back then. The crowd in general was a good one, Michael posted to the PLUG list after the event and mentioned this.

Thursday night I ended up heading over to PLUG West for a talk on Nagios by Brian Stempin. It was a good presentation, and it was nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks Nagios config files are a nightmare – it turns out there are a bunch of tools out there for building them without having to touch the config files themselves (we do use one at work, but even that is more complex than some of the other options out there). The discussion prior to the meeting was good too, we had some lively discussions about zsh, laptops and financial software (hey, it’s more interesting than you might expect!).

Saturday I had a scheduling conflict. I was supposed to head down to Maryland with Michael for an event, but that didn’t work out. With those plans dashed I decided to hop over to the already-in-progress MythTV Seminar presented by Matt Mossholder. This event was one I had been excited about for some time. Back in August Matt dropped a note to the ubuntu-us-pa list asking if there was interest in Myth, to which I replied there absolutely was (a presentation on Myth + HD drew a crowd of 31 people at a recent PLUG West meeting). Matt and I took it off-list and over the next couple weeks Matt fleshed out his presentation while I secured the location (thanks again to The ATS Group!) and handled other logistical concerns. At SFD Matt did a demo and handed out fliers for the event. Early last week I dropped a note to the PLUG list about the seminar and our sign-up sheet filled up pretty quickly.

Unfortunately I missed the opening presentations (which everyone agreed were quite good). Slides for the Intro to Myth itself can be found here and slides for his second presentation, on actually building the machine are here. I think the build session I was able to attend went quite well, a few people brought tuners so the television bit could be tested. It was great how many experienced Myth folks turned up, and really helped take a load off of Matt during the build session. The total number of people there was around 16, a turnout that was big enough to be proud of while being small enough to manage and fit into the conference room. Logistics-wise I’m happy to say that everything fell into place, it was a great location and we’re being encouraged by the company that hosted it to bring more events their way – it’s so nice to have such local companies asking to host events!

Finally, I upgraded to Gutsy over the week. Unfortunately it wasn’t a planned upgrade. Last week Michael brought home a scanner that was being tossed out at work, which I plugged in to see if I could get working in Linux. I ended up grabbing some libs from Gutsy to get it working and after the xorg security upgrade this week and a restart of X I was faced with X freezing up, and .xsession-errors telling me about GTK problems (of the libs I upgraded – oops). I spent the morning trying to fix the dependency problems that were raised with me trying to go back to older versions of the libs, but in the end I surrendered and just upgraded to Gutsy. The upgrade went well though, the only problem I have is some annoyances with the new version of Gimp, but I can live with those for now (might even get used to them). Oh, and the scanner works great.