The Golden Penguin Bowl

By Nicholas Petreley, |  Operating Systems

The LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (LWCE) in New York City held January 30 to February 2 was an absolute blast. I had the privilege of hosting the Golden Penguin Bowl. (Please see Resources for information on the Webcast.) We split a dozen geeks into two teams -- the Geeks and the Nerds -- to answer trivia questions that most self-respecting geeks should know. Each member of the winning team received a gorgeous, handblown glass penguin. We also had two members of the Linux community judging: Don Marti of Linux Journal and Rob Malda from Slashdot.

We deliberately left three empty seats on each side to fill with audience volunteers. I gathered the volunteers "Monty Hall style" (for those of you old enough to remember the Let's Make a Deal quiz show) by selecting them according to whether they had particular items of geek paraphernalia on hand: digital cameras, PDAs, etc. I also asked if anyone had directly contributed to the Linux kernel source code. I prearranged to have a hero of mine, Linus Torvalds, pretend to be an unsolicited volunteer for one of the teams and raise his hand for the source code question. When I chose him as a contestant, I asked the audience if anyone could vouch for him as a valid contributor to Linux, but I don't recall whether or not any hands went up.

The elusive Golden Penguin award

I also noticed former InfoWorld columnist and BSD advocate Brett Glass sitting in the front row. Although I probably shouldn't have played favorites, I couldn't resist pulling Brett onstage for the Bowl, especially since another BSD fellow, Jordan Hubbard, had to cancel at the last minute. Brett is a critic of Linux and is highly critical of the GNU General Public License under which Linux is licensed, so it was very satisfying for me to see him and Linus sitting next to each other, fighting for the same goal and sharing the fun. Brett turned out to be a valuable asset for the Nerds, since he was the only one who knew the correct definition of a teergrube. A teergrube is a mail server that is deliberately crippled in order to foil mail spammers.

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