[oclug] Last Night's OCLUG Meeting: Linux on the Mainframe - LONG POST
bill.strosberg at rcpsc.edu
Fri Mar 8 11:28:12 EST 2002
This missive has been written for those that did not attend last night's
OCLUG meeting. As has been the case this past year, you missed a lot!
Our Emcee, Dan York brought the meeting to order at 7:00PM. There quibblings
about whether he was seconds late or early. Obviously, Far Eastern watch
manufacturer's have not yet got their wireless ntp synchronization protocol
fully debugged, as every person seemed to have a slightly different idea of
exactly when 7:00 arrived.
The big OCLUG organization-level topic that was discussed was the upcoming
board elections. More about this in a second.
Arno Schulz announced the upcoming LinuxFest 2002, on March 16, 2002 between
12:00 and 6:00PM at the University of Ottawa. OCLUG would like members to
support and attend this event which will be comprised of an Installfest,
presentations and booths for exhibitors. Contact Arno Schulz
[s_arno at myrealbox.com] for more details on how you can help. Arno is
looking for presenters as well.
Vic Gedris (OCLUG's current Vice President by the way) announced the results
from the recent Exit Certified-sponsored FREE Linux command shell classes
for new users (and those experienced people not too proud to admit they can
learn more). The second edition of this class went well, with a full room
again, and lots of good ground covered. As in the first class, I lent my
limited keyboard skills to act as Vic's voice-activated command shell demo
dude once again. Without tab completion, I would look like the poor typist
Vic introduced Brenda Butler as the developer and presenter of the next
class we are conducting, an introduction to Regular Expressions. For those
that aren't sure what we mean, it isn't referring to Canadiana like "Want to
go to Horton's?" or "Did you see the hockey game last night?". These
qualify as regular expressions, but not Regular Expressions!
Regular Expressions are an intrinsic part of day to day life in Linux and
Unix system administration and programming. Regular Expressions can take
mundane, routine and repetitive text searching, replacing and mangling and
turn it into a lexically compact, functionally clear and remarkably
efficient one line statement that makes our lives much easier. Whole 100
line text manipulation subroutines in other environments can be stated on
one line using regular expressions. At first (and maybe second) glance,
Regular Expressions look like the author banged his head repeatedly on the
keyboard, but once you discover the hidden thrill of understanding the
syntax, you will never want to use anything else! I think this class will
be a winner out of the gate, and a frequent repeat class.
Our (huge) stock of O'Reilly propaganda was up for grabs again. The one
thing of note is that 20% savings can be realized from purchases on
O'Reilly's web site if you use the material we're giving away. Contact Vic
for more info.
The Ottawa Linux Symposium folks (Andrew and Steph) announce that this
summer's tickets are going on sale Real Soon Now (maybe today) through the
web site. See www.linuxsymposium.org.
Dan took a moment to let everyone know that Mitel was looking for two Linux
people to fill jobs. Details available through careers at e-smith.com. Dan
also made some (one version out of date) Mitel SME Server CD's and docs
available for the taking.
Bart announced he's still trying to distribute the programming wars prizes.
One of our missing in action winners did show and claimed his prize.
On to one of the two main events!
Candidates for the Board of Directors
Our esteemed President Randal Leavitt indicated he wants to carry on with
the jobs we started so far, with emphasis on improving the web services from
the LUG, increased attendance, a continuation of the quality special events
like BOSS, and the sound fiscal and organizational management he led us to
in the past year. As a current Board Member, I can tell everyone this was
in no small part to Randal's patient, persistent and well respected
management style. Oh, yes, and he bribes people with doughnuts.
Mike Kenzie, our current treasurer indicated his willingness to stand for
election once again. Mike has brought a nose for detail, an auditor-like
inquisitiveness to expenses and experience with the largest collection of
elderly museum piece computers I've ever known. Mike's platform included
completing the work already in motion, and increased FUD fighting on our
Vic Gedris' platform was presented as interest in generating more fun at
OCLUG events, carrying forward the programming wars contest he started,
carrying forward the classroom educational presentations he piloted and
carrying forward the planned high quality meetings we've enjoyed for the
past year. Vis has been a tireless leader in making thing happen at the
Board this past year.
Stephanie Donovan announced her candidacy and indicated her background as a
meetings and events professional in organizing the Ottawa Linux Symposium
(aka the Ottawa Beer Symposium - OBS) would bring her organization skills
and extensive Linux community contacts to our meetings and special events.
Your humble writer (Bill Strosberg) mumbled and stumbled through his
re-election speech, which consisted of nervously blurting out "I show up at
all the events, help out a lot and then write about it on the list". Well
spoken and articulate - not! Actually, I've enjoyed my year on the board
and think we must continue on with the work started, but I take a more
Andrew-like (you'll see in a second) approach to growth of our Linux
Burns Macdonald wants to carry forward the efforts we started last year and
thinks we've built a solid foundation for growth. He indicated (quite
uniquely I may add) that he would like to see growth and emphasis on service
to the Linux community. Burns has the vision to try and make our group more
than it is today. Oh, yeah and Burns want to increase fun as well.
Andrew Hutton, one of the key catalysts in the re-invented and re-vitalized
OCLUG, annouced his re-election platform as part of his personal committment
to growing and shepherding the Linux community to long term health,
viability and respect. Andrew believes that OCLUG is positioned for
dramatic growth, on a very different curve than the slow incremental scale
experienced in the past. The real substantial acceptance of Linux in the
(server) business world has generated a huge supply of potential OCLUG
members that we've got to tap and make welcome. Andrew would like to see
more and more involvement by members, reducing the need for individual
leadership as the group grows into it's own.
Dave Edwards, hero of this past year's BOSS event announced his platform
based on his interest in continuing the momentum started in the past year,
bringing new and spectacular special events to reality and keeping the Board
focused on it's role as a support organization to the memerbship, with
membership taking the lead on making things happen. Daves other focus
mentioned was increased focus on helping new users and their acceptance into
Dave O'Neill, our current membership-focused board member announced his
re-election platform based on sensibly continuing forward with the
directions and focused created by the current board. Dave is a long time,
solid list contributor, who's quiet expertise has been directed to
accurately and simply helping newbies and experts alike. As a current Board
member, I can say without reservation that Dave is one of the solid grinders
that gets things done. Dave O has also brought forward the "lightning talk"
idea which is now beginning to take hold.
Bruce Harding, on the current board has brought his own new-user and
home-user oriented focus to form the basis of his re-election platform.
Bruce, manager of the only serious computer bookstore in town deals with new
Linux users every day, and his real-world knowledge of their requirements,
complaints and areas needing help are critical to keep perspective on the
Joel Sachs, a person new the the Ottawa area, announced his candidacy at the
meeting. Joel very quickly impressed all attending with his enthusiasm,
willingness to commmit and fresh energy. One of the criteria we waned for
the new election was new energy and blood, so we were very glad to see Joel
Jeremy McNicholl took a group photo of the candidates (so far).
And now to the main event....
I left the meeting last night, thinking about similes and metaphors that I
could use to wrap Chuck Henry's "Linux on the Mainframe" talk last night. I
haven't come up with any really good ones, but here goes.
The presentation was interesting on a few levels:
1) The cultural and linguistic / semantic differences of IBM,
mainframes and the Linux world
2) The strategic positioning and marketing strategy of IBM porting
Linux across such a wide range of platforms
3) The differences in mentality and mindset of Intel/PC system
developers and mainframe developers
The cultural and linguistic / semantic differences of IBM, mainframes and
the Linux world
Much of Chuck's presentation was actually translating terminology and
different naming conventions for technology between the two solitudes.
Imagine if you will Star Trek without the Universal Translator in the
uniform badge. Chuck spent more time translating technology than actually
talking in depth about it. Chuck did actually make fun of the semantic
differences and was quite entertaining in his intentional translation
It's surprising how there have been multiple distinct dialects that have
evolved in isolation of each other for the exact same technology, i.e.
memory is core, disk is DASD etc. I now understand Europe a little better
where in the space of Eastern Ontario there can be five countries with
different language and cultures - most of which hold each other in distain
and have so for thousands of years.
The strategic positioning and marketing strategy of IBM porting Linux across
such a wide range of platforms
For me this was quite interesting to get some insight into the mindset at
IBM. It seems that IBM has realized that corporate America now
automatically breaks data processing mentally into little "PC" sized chucks
out of habit (or stupidity). Corporate America them tries to stuff these PC
sized chucks of data processing into ... wait for it ... PCs. This is the
song and dance they've been assaulted with from Microsoft, and they bought
it hook, line and sinker.
IBM, realizing that a) PCs suck at big data processing and b) trying to
de-assimilate corporate data processing managers is a fruitless task,
concluded that if they strategically present mainframes as being able to
support a whole bunch of PC-sized chunks in one box, Corporate America may
"get" the concepts of mainframes again. Linux is a spectacularly good
platform with which to test this concept - source available, cheap to sell,
simple to port, and the requisite expertise to execute already resided
inside the corporation.
I personally wouldn't be surprised to see IBM extend the "virtual Linux
server inside big iron" concept to other operating systems if the concept
proves successful. Data processing managers being what they are are going
to realize if Linux could be ported to support a 1000 "boxes" inside a
refridgerator-sized package, other operating systems could be done as well.
The differences in mentality and mindset of Intel/PC system developers and
This was quite fascinating to watch PC people who think in terms of having
direct access to one or more CPUs trying to understand Chuck who was talking
about a tightly coupled 20 CPU matrix controlling virtualized servers.
People were asking if they could have access to more CPU resources, and
Chuck said sure. They seemed to think they would have direct access to more
of the 20 CPU's not understanding that 20 CPUS are serving (potentially)
1000 virtual servers. The cultural chasm will take a long time to bridge
After Chuck's presentation, we retired to the Royal Oak for beer, wings and
other serious brain food, as the talk rendered everyone into a hypoglycemic
nephrotic state requiring immediate rectification.
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