The third Australian Open Source Symposium was staged at the Australian National University in the nation's capital of Canberra, by the Australian Unix Users Group (who also staged the second, in Adelaide in 2000, and the first, in Sydney in 1999) on the 16th of June 2001.

The sixty or so delegates settled into the Manning Clark lecture theatre at 9am on a chilly Canberran winter Saturday, and were welcomed by the legendary Greg Lehey of the FreeBSD core team.

The first talk was by Robert Hart of Red Hat, and was an interesting take on the recent Microsoft sniping at open source. He also discussed the state of open source inside of large legacy Unix vendors such as Sun Microsystems

The second talk was by the widely-respected Warren Toomey, late of the Australian Defense Forces Academy, now of the ANU. He brought the delegates up to date on his project to make old "classic" Unices open source. He also demonstrated his apout simulator which can be used to run old Unix executables in Linux.

Morning tea was coffee and cookies.

The freshly caffeinated delegates then settled into a great session by Andrew Tridgell, who most would know as the founder of Samba, and who, since the collapse of Linuxcare is now working with VA Linux Systems. Tridge talked about his deep hacks of the TiVO system, which included teaching it to speak PAL and ethernet. The takeout from the session was mostly around useable reverse engineering techniques.

Lunch and clumps of conversation was enjoyed.

Chris Yeoh, another Linuxcare refugee, and now of IBM's Linux Technology Center OzLabs here in Canberra, delivered a paper on the imminent release of the Linux Standards Base, which he's been working with for almost three years.

Scott Campbell followed with a demo of his J2WAP technology, a Java-based microbrowser for WAP content. The project's port to PalmOS was really interesting. Shame there's no WAP content to speak of anymore!

Then IBM's OzLabs manager (and also a Linuxcare refugee) Hugh Blemings gave a very interesting talk on techniques used to reverse engineer serial port devices. His Gnokii project was used as a real-world example.

The legend of gcc, Alan Modra (also of IBM OzLabs, ex Linuxcare) then gave a deeply technical talk on how to debug gcc compile-time problems, so that the developer community can better support the gcc core team.

David Gibson, of Software Innovations, presented his Evacs open source e-voting system, to be used for the world's first electronic voting in the Australian Capital Territory elections in October 2001. Fascinating stuff, showing that open source's transparency is the perfect platform to build highly critical public software projects such as voting. I'll node up this project in detail closer to the actual election.

Michael Still of An Un-named Federal Government Department gave a talk on the latest in the world of open source imaging, including his world-leading Panda PDF library, and his newer PNGtools.

Tom Worthington, independent consultant and pundit, closed the final session of the symposium with an update on the political machinations at the recent Internet Global Summit in Stockholm, held last week. His insights into mobile internet, in particular, were fascinating.

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