Trip to the US, Novell in Salt Lake City

We travelled as part of a “Linux-fact-finding-mission” from Johannesburg to Austin, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Boston and New York City. The first 3 days where spent at IBM in the labs and did not really excite us much. Thereafter we left for Salt Lake City to meet the guys at Novell.

Visiting Novell was the highlight of the trip – they guys take business very serious. A superlab consisting of 3,000 PCs to test software and a command-centre filled with plasma-screens having a close resemblence to NASA:

I was excited to meet with Nat Friedman, CTO of Novell. It was quite bizarre as we were all dressed up in business-suites and someone announced that we are waiting for Nat to join us
for a talk. Eventually a young guy walked in (wearing jeans and t-shirt) and I did not pay much attention, thinking it was
a network guy :). It became quickly apparent that it was Nat and he showed us hands-on Mono development in Linux via Vi and shell-access – impressive to see how fast he moved and how spoilt we are with GUI-based IDE’s.

The Novell Superlab was impressive. No cameras allowed, but I snuck one or two via my camera-phone:

The lab has more than 1700 computers to perform automation tests of Novell’s and their partners Linux products. The PCs where rack-mounted (3 shelves) and there must have been a good 50 rows of racks. The racks had infrared sensors, so as you approach a shelf all monitors in the area turned on automatically.

It was a pity, that we could only stay there for 1/2 a day and then flew out to Boston. Most of the trip the arrival times where at the most inhumane hours (sometime between 12pm and 3am) and travelling back and forth through timezones resulted in completely loosing any sense of time.

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