Tag: Radia Perlman
During the last week of January, approximately 700 IT professionals and enthusiastic hobbyists descended on Canberra to jointly create an intensive learning experience. Each year the call goes out across the intertubes to gather together open source geeks for Linux Conference Australia. Linux.conf.au, or simply LCA, is one of the largest open source conferences in the southern hemisphere, and one of the most highly-regarded conferences of its kind in the world. I was excited to attend LCA2013, as it was my first LinuxConf, despite being involved to a modest degree in the Linux and open source community for at least the last 15 years.
Most days, the programme commenced with a keynote address by an IT industry luminary who had made a significant contribution to computer technology and open source. At every keynote address, the lower level of ANU’s Llewellyn Hall was packed with delegates, each toting a selection of wifi- or 3G-enabled devices. While I saw a healthy 55Mbps idle capacity on the Internet link provided by conference organisers (ably assisted by the network engineers at AARNET), once the assembled cohort of digital natives hit the link, all of that that capacity was rapidly utilised.
The conference was opened on the Monday by Bdale Garbee, recently-retired Open Source & Linux Chief Technologiest at Hewlett-Packard, and a long-time contributor to the Debian Linux distribution. (Read Kelly Burnes’ article about Bdale at LCA2013 over at Australian Science, where you can also watch their video interview.)
A little before 9am on Tuesday 29th January, I filed into ANU’s Llewellyn Hall along with approximately 700 other Linux.conf.au delegates to listen to the daily keynote speech. I’m now a little embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Radia Perlman. A little over an hour later, I was a fangirl.
Radia delivered an engaging, funny, and highly-technical keynote address at LCA2013, and the audience of IT professionals and enthusiasts present lapped it up. In it, she placed the technical details of the network protocols she and her colleagues developed in an historical context. She half-jokingly explained that this was the only way in which anyone could hope to understand why the protocols we work with today include ‘features’ in their design that would otherwise seem crazy to an outside observer.
In delivering her keynote, Radia gave us not just the technical detail behind the development of networking protocols, but also wove in details from her creative side, as well as tidbits about her children’s involvement in her technical life. The crowd was delighted as Radia shared with us the poem that she created (an ‘Algorhyme’) shortly after devising the Spanning Tree Protocol in 1985 while at DEC. For as she says, “Every algorithm deserves an algorhyme…” (You can hear Radia reciting her AlgoRhyme in Dan’s video interview with Radia over at Australian Science, and read the text here.) There is also a recording of Radia’s daughter, Dawn Perlner, singing the Algorhyme set to music by Radia’s son, Ray Perlner. Radia also mentioned her son Ray’s involvement in the creation of an AlgoRhyme V2 to mark the creation of her most recent network protocol, TRILL.