This is not your father's LinuxWorld conference. Well maybe "father" is the wrong person, but you get the idea. Along with a collection of T-shirt clad, bearded computing mavens, there was a large collection of Men's Wharehouse shoppers and men in suits. It's times like this that I wish I brought my camera ... it was something.

AMD was showing its Rev F processor. That's the one with virtualization extensions. In fact, we worked with AMD to show its Rev F with a pre-beta version of Service Pack 1 of Virtual Server 2005 R2 running RedHat. Yes, it works. The beta of SP1 should be available within 30-60 days.

The hot topic this morning was the fire alarm that sounded when smoke bellowed from a booth. CNET snapped a photo and commented. Attendees were supposed to evacuate, but instead opted to hang out and socialize.

More importantly, the One Child One Laptop initiative (aka, $100 laptop) was discussed during the morning keynote. There's other press coverage, too. I discussed this thoughtful topic with several folks, many of whom were born outside the U.S. It's incredibly noble and holds promise of making a positive impact on citizens of developing countries. But several of us wondered aloud how this initiative would benefit the many starving or ill children and parents in the targeted countries. That's a discussion for another time.

The afternoon keynote was from Bob Gatewood, CTO of athenahealth.com. Gatewood presented a compelling business case for technology helping solve inefficienices in healthcare claims processing.  Gatewood said that 20% of healthcare spending ($360B) is due to inefficiencies, and that only 33% of healthcare claims (i.e., doctor's visits) go through without incident. Athenahealth only owns 1% of the claims processing business in the U.S., but that still means 1.7 million claims a month. What really caught attendees' attention was the description of Athenahealth's application software stack and IT infrastructure. Athenahealth built out in 1998, and uses a mix of open source and commercial software. Such as Internet Explorer for user interface, Apache and Visual C# for apps, modified Perl for common business objects, Oracle 9i, SugarCRM, Cognos for reporting and Exchange for email. Gatewood said he takes a pragmatic view toward open source and commercial software.

Finally, next time you attend a conference at the new Boston Convention Center, such as Tech Ed in mid-June, I recommend stopping to eat at No Name. It's a 15-minute walk from the convention center toward the water, or a 4-minute cab ride. Good price for exceptional seafood, and it's a world of difference from the food served in the convention center.

Patrick