OSCON 2012 is coming and Unix will be everywhere, yet invisible
There was a time when O'Reilly Media in partnership with USENIX offered the definitive series of 4.4BSD reference books and in them you could find a solid introduction to BSD Unix usage and programming. The series is comprised mostly of academic papers and manual pages and fortunately most of these are available online. Authors include Dennis M. Ritchie, K. Thompson, Brian W. Kernighan, S. R. Bourne, William Joy, Robert Fabry, Keith Bostic, Eric P. Allman, Lorinda L. Cherry, Richard M. Stallman and of course M. Kirk McKusick. To call the series "Biblical" would not be inaccurate and its sequence of materials is exquisite. I keep several old technical books around because they're quaint but these I keep around because they're useful. You can find a partial archive of these works that is maintained by the FreeBSD project.
So where are we now? It is telling that the BSD-licensed nginx web server overtook Microsoft IIS the first week of 2012: countless excellent tools have been introduced over the last twenty years yet the majority of them still come out of Unix environments. The result is a disconnect where Unix systems are increasingly being taken for granted, including on mobile phones, but their documentation has thoroughly fragmented. One O'Reilly Media editor observed:
What we can do about this disconnect is entirely up to you. O'Reilly's OSCON is the largest open source conference in North America and is a very good place to start. While Kirk gave a talk "Building and Running An Open-Source Community: The FreeBSD Project" at OSCON 2009, it suffered the classic fringe topic fate: it was hosted in the very last room on the last day of the conference. The OSCON 2012 Call for Participation closed on January 12th and hopefully the BSD community submitted a few talks and tutorials. While O'Reilly does not cover speaker travel and accommodations like most BSDCon's, the free sessions, hallway track, Community Leadership Summit, parties and the City of Portland are well worth the trip. In previous years, submitting alone entitled you to added conference benefits.
As part of the countdown to OSCON 2012, I will post my photos from previous OSCON's to give you a feel for what you can look forward to.
See you in Portland!
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