FreeBSD UK Oxford Gathering
Saturday 21st November

On Saturday the 21st November, assorted members of the FreeBSD UK User Group (and hangers on) met at the Royal Oak pub in Oxford for a few drinks, before heading out to a local curry house. Much discussion ensued, with some of it relating to FreeBSD. I was on hand to make sure the evening was thoroughly documented.

Note: Each of the images below is a link to a much larger JPEG image (between 40-180K). These are "progressive JPEGs" but modern browsers should handle them with no problems. If you do have problems, let me know.

Question marks by anyone's name in this text means that I can't decipher my own scrawl.

I was turning up (in fact, being driven by) a friend of mine, Justin Otto. I'd introduced him to FreeBSD a few months back. We arrived at the pub slightly late, and cast around for people who looked like they might have something to do with freely available Unix-like operating systems.

We quickly found several people at a table, one of whom was wearing a "Powered by FreeBSD" sticker. Assuming this was Paul, I introduced myself. However, this turned out to be Mark Ovens and company -- Paul, it was surmised, had not yet appeared.

We got talking -- especially about where everyone else was.

About 10 minutes later Pierre Dampure wandered in to the same bar. Spotting Mark's sticker, he explained that they were all in another part of the pub. Decamping, we set off.

[Justin and Mark]
Justin Otto and Mark Ovens

We quickly found the others, at least 15 people were already there, and more were to arrive through out the night.

Of the 15 or so people, I immediately recognised Dom Mitchell. Dom and I had both gone to Brunel University, and both left before our courses were complete to continue our placement jobs. Dom's now a Unix SA at Palmer & Harvey McLane, but before that he was at Demon Internet on the mail team. He introduced me to Tony Finch, one of Demon's networking gurus, and owner of the very covetable domain.

[Dom, Andrew, and Tony]
Dominic Mitchell, Andrew Wilson, Tony Finch

We'd hardly started catching up on events of the past few years when Brian Somers turned up. Brian's written the userland PPP daemon that so many of us use. I thought it would be ungracious not to buy him a pint.

We carried on chatting, swapping stories, particularly about how we'd first discovered FreeBSD. My heartfelt apologies to those of you who had to listen to my spiel about broadcasting radio stations over the 'net...

[Tony, Brian Somers, and Dom]
Tony, Brian Somers, Dom

Roaming around were many other people, so I got the camera out and started snapping.

I never did discover why Robin was wearing a "Microsoft Site Builder" t-shirt. It's probably deeply ironic. I have vague memories of a discussion with him and Tony in which we solved the slashdot effect.

I finally met Paul (wearing the FreeBSD t-shirt). The camera was supposed to have an "anti-red eye" flash. Some times it worked, other times it didn't. We were to have snippets of conversation throughout the rest of the night, chiefly about how best to promote FreeBSD commercially in the UK.


[Paul, Roger]
Paul Richards, Roger

Some people were to start posing for photographs. From left to right, this motley crew are Mark Ovens, Adrian, Doug Rabson, and Aled Morris.

I'd met Aled almost two years before while he was working at Toyota. He was interviewing me for a job (which I was offered, but turned down). The picture's a trifle over exposed, he doesn't normally look quite so white.

[Mark, Adrian, Doug, Aled]
Mark, Adrian, Doug, Aled

We left for the curry house at about 9.30pm after only 10 minutes spent persuading people that now was a good time to leave. I had the pleasure of bumping into (quite literally) Pierre, who was meandering down the road. Would you use an operating system from this man?

Things were not to go quite as planned. The curry house hadn't believed Paul when he'd said that he had 30 or so hungry people, and was rather full. They were somewhat concerned when we tropped in demanding curry.

In the end, we elected to go to another pub just over the road for half an hour or so, to give them time to sort things out.


Back in the pub, conversation continued. Or at least, it did for some people. You see here Justin in his natural habitat (next to the jelly bean machine) while Aled gets a round in.

I took the opportunity to say "Hi" to a few others whilst we were in this pub (if nothing else, there was more room than there was at the Royal Oak). Two of those were the very charming Roger and Ruth McCalman.

As is always the case at events like this, small knots of conversations were developing. I tried to work my way from group to group, taking photos as I went. Here's a typical example, showing (amongst others) Karen Flanagan (in the centre), Brian, Sue Bourner (on the right) and the top of Pierre's head.

After about 40 minutes we decided that the curry house had definitely had enough time, and some of us were getting decidedly peckish. So, once more we departed the cosy pub environs to brave the harsh Oxford weather.

This time, fortune favoured us, and we were quickly seated and perusing the menus. Wasting no time (and with no thought to the difficulty of ordering a balti when I'm concentrating on the photos), I dug out the camera again to try and record everyone who had turned up.

[Justin, Aled]
Justin and Aled, at the bar, Matthew Hunt at the back

[Roger and Ruth]
Roger and Ruth

[Karen, Brian, Sue, Pierre]
Karen, Brian, Sue, Pierre

[Neil, Mark]
Neil, Mark
[Natalie, Maureen]
Natalie (Neil's SO), Maureen (Mark's SO)
[Mark Blackwell, Adrian]
Mark Blackwell, Adrian
[Adrian, Tim, Doug
Adrian, Tim, Doug
[Karen, Robin]
Karen, Robin
er,. . . me
[Tony, Aled, Nik]
Tony, Aled, Nik

And that, as they say, is that. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Paul for planning and organising the event, and everyone who turned up who made it such an enjoyable evening.

I'll sign off with just one more image. This is catkin, my home machine for the past year -- it's been running FreeBSD since I got it. For those who are interested; the window manager is FVWM95; the top left window (yellow on black) shows console messages. The white windows top middle, bottom left, and bottom right, are xbuffy watching multiple incoming mail boxes. I've got unread personal mail by the looks of it. Top right is an FVWM panel, swallowing pppload, xload, a menu button, and four desktops. The other xterms are running slrn, trafshow, leafnode, and the RC5 client. The background (that looks a little like it might be from Babylon 5) was rendered by a very talented friend of mine, Mark Hennessy-Barrett, from Imaginetix (UK).


Technical information

These photographs were taken on an Olympus 840CL digital camera, and then downloaded to a PC running Windows, before being transferred (via Zip disk) to a PC running FreeBSD-stable.

The downloaded images were JPEG files at either 1280x960 or 640x480 depending on the quality setting I used when taking the shot.

The thumbnails were produced by scaling each JPEG file down to an image 150 pixels across. They were then all quantized to have the same 128 colour color-map (to make it easier to display them all on one web page). Each thumbnail was then converted to a GIF file.

% foreach i (*.jpeg)
foreach? setenv b `basename $i .jpeg`
foreach? djpeg -pnm $i | pnmscale -width 150 > ${b}.ppm
foreach? end
% ppmquantall 128 *.ppm
% foreach i (*.ppm)
foreach? ppmtogif -interlace $i > ${b}.gif
foreach? end
% rm *.ppm