Other areas of interest included a look at Voice over IP (VoIP) and the open source contributions (which appears rather slow at this point — perhaps too new of a topic for some); and a look at the impact that open source could make for developing regions.
One Box, Many Users
During an interesting presentation, a single machine proved the multi-user, single workstation concept after plugging in multiple monitors, keyboards and mice.
With a simple patch and some configuration, the presenter had created a workstation for himself, his wife and daughter to use simultaneously and yet independent of each other, thus ensuring individual privacy. Again, you may think this is just a home solution but use a little imagination...
This concept could easily be used in shared environments like kiosks, public Internet stations, libraries, and applications that aren't particularly graphically intensive (that is, Pixar may not benefit from this). There was one bug to work out: sound. Apparently, audio was rather sporadic, blaring out of the wrong speakers at the wrong time. But everything else went smoothly.
The last presentation was on a topic that I was certainly interested in: NoCatAuth.
For environments that make public hotspots available, NoCatAuth is an excellent open source product that manages Internet access without incurring huge costs.
A simple, Linux bastion host (that is, a box that is a simplistic yet hardened) will do the trick along with Apache and the NoCatAuth setup. Anyone attempting to gain access to the network will be denied access until they properly log in through their web-browser to the NoCatAuth server.
It was Novell's CTO, Ross Chevalier, who put things into perspective: "Open Source is about the freedom to choose ... it's about work being an activity, not a place". By subscribing to this mindset, organizations find the freedom to develop, and become effective and efficient business entities in the process. Adopting open source doesn't mean doing it for free.
If there's one lesson to take away from the symposium is that open-source "opens" the door to new ideas, which is what IT is all about anyways, isn't it?
MultiUser Single Workstation Linux: http://cs.senecac.on.ca/~ctyler/ruby
Seneca College, 3rd Annual Open Source Symposium: http://cs.senecac.on.ca/~sos3 for presentation materials