By Mark Wilcox, Campus Web Administrator
During the second week of March, I attended this year's ApacheCon (www.apachecon.com) where I also presented a paper on Apache and LDAP. For those who don't know, Apache is a free open-sourced Web server and according to most surveys of Web server usage, Apache is used by more Web sites than any other. It was also the only Web server to see market growth last year.
The conference was a great success. They had double the number of people show up at the door as they did who registered beforehand. Even with this increase of attendees, the conference was still small enough that one didn't feel overwhelmed or lost in the crowd.
One of the truly neat things about the conference (and perhaps because of the nature of open source*) was that I was able to meet the people who have played an active role in making Apache a success. The first night, after hours, I was at the hotel lounge hanging out with the CEOs of Covalent (who specialize in supporting Apache and now pay the salaries of the majority of the Apache 2.0 team so they can concentrate on Apache) and ActiveState (who specialize in Perl and Python development/support) as well as Doug McEarn (the author of mod_perl which enables you to integrate Perl with Apache) and Greg Stein (the author of mod_dav, which turns Apache into a WebDAV server which makes Web publishing much easier). This was a bit like being at a bar in the early 80s and finding out you were sitting in on a conversation with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs before they became too big for us common folk to know them.
I can proudly say that I now count most of these guys (sorry there were not that many women there) as friends. I learned a lot about what makes Apache go, where it's headed into the future and more importantly that the notion of a meritocracy (where your status is based on what you contribute, not how much money, color, etc) can really work. Because I know so much about LDAP and the friendly bunch that they were, I was able to help get my ideas about LDAP into the future versions of Apache. I've even signed on as a member of the new-httpd mailing list to help out with future version of Apache (you can do this as well, just by visiting www.apache.org). I don't think you could ever go anywhere and really have a chance of either meeting most of the developers of any other major piece of software like this and you definitely wouldn't have a voice in future development unless you were a really big company.
I can proudly say that the conference was a success for myself professionally (my presentation was standing room only and many people told me how much they liked it) and personally (the number of people I met). I can't wait until next year ;).
Until next time.