No, the paper taped to the door said "Reserved for OpenBSD, May 30 -
June 5." So I shrugged and knocked. Ken Westerback let me in.
The Undeadly editors would like to thank Michael for sending us this report, and for writing
And I walked into silence.
There were noises, of course. The clatter of fingers on keys. The
occasional rustle of a sandwich wrapper or the hiss of an opened
bottle. But for the most part, it was a roomful of people staring at
Every so often someone would stand up, go to someone else, and they'd
have a hushed but intense discussion about something. The whiteboard
held evidence of earlier discussions that needed more detail than
waved hands and tabletop scribbles offered.
Somehow, I'd never met Theo de Raadt before. He'd lost his voice due to
bringing some ghastly malaise back from Africa, but he spent a couple of his
few remaining words welcoming my wife and I. He shouted for everyone
to pay attention, introduced me to the room, and told everyone there
to sign the book and make comments.
For the next four hours I circled from table to table, getting
everyone to sign the acknowledgements page and encourage them to make
comments in some section of the book. Some chapters got heavily marked
up, while other chapters passed mostly unscathed.
Most of the time, the developer of the moment and I were the only ones
speaking. People were polite, of course, but they were clearly there
The silence isn't perfect, of course. Now and then someone mutters
something under their breath. At one point, Bob Beck shouted out
"G*****n f*****g Linux" without looking up from his keyboard. But for
the most part, they're serious people quietly doing serious work.
Until time to order pizza for dinner, of course. Then someone might as
well have cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Especially if the
order didn't include a few vegetarian pies.
Bob Beck and Ken Westerback invited Liz and I to the most fantastic
dinner we'd had in years (which they paid for out of their own pocket,
not out of OpenBSD Foundation funds). When we returned to the
hackathon, we found most of the crowd still working despite the late
hour. Yes, some of the jet-lagged Europeans had gone to bed, and Theo
had apparently taken his case of Inner African Wildebeest Plague away.
I've been to technical conferences, many times. I've been to smaller
hackathons. But I've seen professional programmers at work in their
offices not nearly so intense as the OpenBSD crew.
The money raised by the book auction was completely not wasted.
Last night I flipped through the slightly battered but heavily marked
book for one last time, sighed longingly, and gave it to the missus to
pack for shipping to auction winner Bill Allaire. She has a special
touch with shipping books. Poor Bill might need an axe and a blowtorch
to open the packaging, but it will arrive safely.