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Posts Tagged ‘LFNW’

A tale of two expos

September 29, 2013 1 comment

[First things first: A huge get-well-soon to my good friend and Portales, New Mexico, Linux stalwart Bob McKeand, the indefatigable "Colonel Panik," who is recovering at home now after a short hospital stay. Here's to hoping that Portales LUG meetings at the Do Drop Inn -- yes, that's the real name -- will commence again shortly.]

Those of us living out here in the West have it good.

Other shows have taken root and blossomed in other parts of the country, like Texas Linux Fest at the end of May, Ohio Linux Fest in Columbus in September and SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF: Linux in the GNU/South) in Charlotte, N.C., in mid-June. But the best Linux/FOSS expos are here on the Pacific side of the continent: In order of annual appearance, we have the Southern California Linux Expo — everyone knows it as SCALE — in Los Angeles starting off the year, Linux Fest Northwest (LFNW) up in Bellingham, Washington, in the spring, and the O’Reilly Open Source Conference — better known as OSCON — in Portland, Oregon, in the summer. We’re going to talk about one of those below, though all these FOSS events around the country are must-attend events, and if you can make one or more of them, you should.

We have another one to add to the mix, but we’re getting ahead of the story.

Just after Ohio Linux Fest wrapped up a few weeks ago, the folks at SCALE 12X put into focus yet again the preparations for the 2014 show, to be held on Feb. 21-23 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. The Call for Papers just went out, and much of the other pre-preparation activities are in full swing as the annual work to put on the biggest community-driven Linux/FOSS show in North America is now underway.

It is a huge source of pride, and a job I look forward to every year, to work on the SCALE Team. I am the publicity chairperson for the show, and while we have a lot in store, publicity-wise, for 12X, every year that I’ve been involved (since SCALE 8X) I’m awed at how a group of strong-willed people driven by a passion for FOSS come together and make this happen every year.

Like clockwork, the SCALE Team displays what great feats a dedicated group of people can produce year in and year out. So when you come to SCALE, over 100 booths await you on the exhibit floor and over 80 sessions are available for you to attend over the three days of the event. Sure there are more than last year, and more than the year before, and that’s a testament of both the show’s, and FOSS’s, growth and staying power.

But as I mentioned earlier, this is a tale of two expos: SCALE and another, a new kid on the block.

Some folks in the Puget Sound region of Seattle seem to think that having one great show — LFNW — in the Pacific Northwest is nice, but it’s not enough for the area. So they’ve taken a chunk out of the impending fall and winter between OLF and SCALE to host their own show, the 2013 Seattle GNU/Linux Conference — or SeaGL (and I’m assuming that’s pronounced “seagull”).

The two-day event will be held at Seattle Central Community College on Oct. 11-12. Of course, you may see a familiar name giving a presentation on Friday at 4 p.m. on CrunchBang. But there are far better speakers on the schedule than yours truly — I’m going to try to make it to both of Jesse Keating’s Git presentations as well as to Deb Nicholson’s “Delegate Like a Boss” talk — and from the outset, the inaugural SeaGL looks to be a promising springboard for future shows in the years to come.

SeaGL is at their own starting line, a point where SCALE was once 12 years ago. Hopefully, a dozen years from now (if not sooner), SeaGL will be where SCALE is today — with a hundred exhibitors and more speakers than you can listen to at one time.

If current trends persist, and if the staff at SeaGL is up to the task, there’s no reason why we can’t go to Seattle every October from here on in, just as we go to Los Angeles every February, Bellingham every April, Texas and Charlotte in May and June respectively, Portland every July, and Columbus every September.

See you at the conference.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Dear Schmuck

May 3, 2013 9 comments

[For the benefit of everyone involved -- the reader, the subject, the blog, and of course yours truly -- I decided to wait a few days to write this blog post in order to allow cooler heads, specifically mine, to prevail. As many of you know, I can be mercilessly unkind when annoyed or provoked, and with the glorious burden of being able to use the English language like a Ginsu knife, I learned long ago not to shoot from the hip, so to speak, in order to keep any incensed writing from including body counts. However, to set the stage here, a person who visited the CrunchBang booth at Linux Fest Northwest over the weekend -- clearly new to attending shows and new to the Free/Open Source Software paradigm -- could stand to use an attitude adjustment. Whether or not the person in question reads this is not as important as getting this out there.]

Dear Schmuck:

First, let me welcome you to Linux Fest Northwest — the second best show on the U.S. West Coast (next to the Southern California Linux Expo) — and also let me welcome you to the wider Free/Open Source Software paradigm. It’s clear that you’re new in these parts and chances are this is your first show.

I also see that you’re inspired by FOSS, and that’s outstanding. I’m truly glad for you. From your enthusiasm and the gleam in your eye, I can tell that you’re on a mission; it’s the same mission in which everyone in the room is involved to varying degrees; otherwise, we would be spending our weekend elsewhere. Clearly I’ve walked a mile in your proverbial moccasins — and I sheepishly admit that when I started on the FOSS path I acted from time to time like the quintessential douchebag at which you excel at this very moment (more on this later) — so let me point out a few things that could help you going forward.

Bear in mind that what I’m suggesting are things that just might make your life in FOSS circles a little more pleasant and, more importantly, just might make you a little more bearable to the people around you, both inside FOSS circles and in the wider realm of life. It may not seem like it, but I’m trying to help you here, so listen.

First, this is how conversations work: You say something, then you stop talking and listen to the other person as he or she offers a response. Let me repeat that: “You stop talking and listen to the other person as he or she offers a response.” You’re truly allowed to stop talking. Honest. Streams of consciousness are nice, but in a conversation — again, when one person says something to another and the first person allows the second to respond — you allow the person you’re talking to (not talking at) to respond to what you have said.

Got that? Good, because there’s more to this: A significant part of the conversational process involves allowing the person with which you’re conversing to, at the very least, complete a sentence. You didn’t notice this, obviously, but in our entire exchange, I was unable to complete a sentence thanks to your constant interruptions. You truly need to work on that.

Second, I understand your desire to promote your FOSS product and I also understand that you are immeasurably proud of it. Good for you, Sparky. However, rather than putting down comparable products with faulty arguments, you might want to listen to people who have used the product you’re blasting to a.) learn more about the products you’re criticizing, and b.) maybe learn something, period. “People who have used the product,” in this case, would be me, and I’ve used the products in question for years. If you were to listen, I could provide you with some insight into the other products; products again with which I have first-hand experience. But rather than do the smart, logical thing, you choose to remain a bloviating advertard parroting marketing jargon. I could have told you how full of shit you were, but I didn’t because I thought it would sail past you like a puck past a helpless goalie after a Sidney Crosby slapshot. Just like everything else I had said between all your interruptions up to that point.

As an aside, I told you I was familiar with your product after going to your website several months ago. I haven’t been since, and what I didn’t tell you was that your website, well, blows goats. You might want to use — what do you call it? — correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. Why focus on this triviality? Because if you can’t be thorough and precise with your web presence, how can I trust you to be thorough and precise with the quality of your product?

So here’s a quick recap:

– Shut the hell up and listen to the person/people you’re conversing with, and

– Your product isn’t perfect, other products have features yours doesn’t, and as hard as it might be to admit to yourself, you don’t know everything. In fact, you know less than you think, which makes listening to others that much more important.

Again, I’ve walked a mile — hundreds of miles at this point — in the proverbial shoes you’re now donning for your travels along the FOSS path. I, too, started out “filled with the Holy Spirit,” the divine inspiration that Catholics and other Christian denominations refer to when enraptured by the missionary zeal of spreading “the word;” in our case, the Free/Open Source Software paradigm. And I would have saved myself a lot of profuse apologies, needless backpedaling and multiple hurt feelings had I been told all this by someone else when I had started out back in 2006 when I “knew everything” about FOSS.

So you’re welcome.

Despite our minuscule differences and preferences in software and hardware, in the FOSS realm there is really no “us and them.” There’s just “us” to varying degrees of participation. Understand that and you’re more than halfway there.

Hope you enjoy the fest.

Larry the Free Software Guy

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Linux Fest Northwest reprise

April 30, 2013 1 comment

lfnw-badgeWhew. That drive from Felton-to-Bellingham-and-back gets longer and longer. But it goes without saying, of course that it’s well worth it. The 14th annual Linux Fest Northwest was a success and while they take a break before getting ready for next year’s event — April 26-27, 2014, at Bellingham Technical College — I’m going to make my reservation at the Hampton Inn right now so I don’t forget.

A few parting random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots:

Close, but no cigar: Bryan Lunduke, of “Linux Sucks/No It Doesn’t” presentation fame (along with other hats he wears in the FOSS realm), wrote an article on Network World about how you should go to Linux shows. He is right: You should go to the nearest show to you, and his article is a definite read. I’ll help Bryan out here by telling you to go to Texas Linux Fest in Austin (looks like I’ll be there) on Memorial Day weekend, Southeast Linux Fest (SELF: Linux in the GNU South) in Charlotte in June, OSCON in Portland in July, and then Ohio Linux Fest usually wrapping up the year in September.

Where Bryan missed the mark in his article was here: “SCALE, itself, is similar in size to Linux Fest NW and is a solid destination, with some great speakers every year.” Great speakers and solid destination? Check. But similar in size? Both shows have enjoyed a steady increase in attendance and participation for the last several years, which is a huge testament to the work put in by the volunteer-based organizations behind both shows. Further, the improvements made to Bellingham Technical College are nothing short of outstanding. However, Linux Fest Northwest doesn’t enjoy the same advantages that SCALE has in being in a major metropolitan area based at a hotel located within range of a Matt Kemp home run from a major international airport. That said — and this is certainly not to take anything away from Linux Fest Northwest, which is a great show — SCALE is a somewhat larger show with around 100 exhibitors and more than 90 speakers. I’m not tweaking LFNW’s nose, so to speak, I just wanted to correct this.

15943044On the expo floor: Regardless of the show’s size, it’s always great to see new people and old friends. CrunchBang had the great luck in geography of being next to the main LFNW table, so I had a chance to catch up with Bill Wright and the other show folks at length. We also had the privilege of having the LFNW totem in the corner behind us as well. The attendance for the event was pretty high, and I would guess that it’s around 1,400 judging by the degree of folks coming to the CrunchBang booth during presentations and between them. The steady stream of folks regardless of the time of day was a promising sign and speaks to the strength of the show.

Bellingham Technical College FTW: BTC has always been a great host for Linux Fest Northwest, and the improvements in the building this year — both in the classrooms and in the auditorium which hosted the expo floor — made the show go from great to outstanding. As a speaker, it was great to use top-notch AV equipment for which I didn’t have to sacrifice a chicken to the projector gods for my presentation to work (NOTE: No chickens, or any other animals or humans, have ever been harmed in my appeals to any diety in allowing my presentations to work). The expo floor itself was spacious — at least on our side — and I didn’t hear any complaints from any of the vendors about the show.

Et cetera: As you may recall from yesterday’s blog item, I had the great misfortune to stay at the Econolodge this year. Next to the hotel is the Slo-Pitch sports bar, which has about 40 screens showing different sports (30 of them, I swear, were tuned Seattle Sounders football, er, soccer) along with food. Note to the cook: A tuna melt is given that name because it has a certain quality about it, like, what’s it called? Oh yeah, cheese . . . . Thanks, OrangeFS, for the great swag — great as in lens cleaners for those of us wearing glasses, that is . . . . Great to see the following: Deb Nicholson, as always; Scott Dowdle and Gary Bummer, both coming in from the Big Sky country’s Montana LUG; everyone at the Fedora booth (Robyn Bergeron, Ian Weller and Adam Williamson — a lot of distro/programming brain power in that group); Ross Brunson of Linux Professional Institute; Red Hat’s Thomas Cameron and his three presentations; OSU Open Source Lab’s Lance Albertson and his three presentations (OK, two-and-a-half); Bill Wright and all the other LFNW crew, who put together this great show; David Whitman of Hacker Public Radio, always keeping everyone informed; Owen DeLong, the pied piper of IPv6 who fills up rooms with those wishing to learn about the new Internet Protocol; David Nalley, albeit briefly; and probably several I’m forgetting (if I didn’t mention you, it was good to see you but my memory is not . . . what was I saying again?).

How not to do things: Completely unrelated to the greatness that was LFNW this year, I encountered a personality who visited the booth who was new to this kind of thing (or so it seemed) and who is desperately in need of some attitude adjusting. That will come in a later post.

All in all, it was a great show. Thanks to everyone involved, and I’m definitely in for 2014.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Once again, Linux Fest Northwest nails it

April 29, 2013 5 comments

[Warning: This will be a long post. For those of you with limited attention spans, for those of you who are too lazy to read, or for those who can't process more than 140 characters at a time, here's the TL:DR version of this blog item: Linux Fest Northwest was enormously outstanding and awesome (attendance is up, too), the CrunchBang booth was a huge success, the CrunchBang talk was well attended, and I stand by the statement I made to Hacker Public Radio last year: This show is so great, I'd walk to Bellingham from California to attend.]

lfnw-badgeBlame the Econolodge in Bellingham, which should be renamed “the Black Hole of the Internet,” for the complete absence of workable wireless connectability which causes me to compress two fantastic days of FOSS festivities into one blog item written after the fact from the Motel 6 in Salem, Oregon (it should be noted that, unlike the Econolodge, the wireless at both Motel 6 venues we stayed at — in Medford, Oregon, on the way up and here in Salem on the way back — has been quite good).

All of which is to say I apologize for the delay in getting this out.

In short, Linux Fest Northwest nailed it this weekend — the LFNW all-volunteer crew had everything up and running flawlessly in a revamped show area courtesy of some remodeling by Bellingham Technical College that included a auditorium that made for an oustanding expo hall and classrooms with world-class electronics (meaning, of course, my presentation worked with a limited amount of pre-talk tweaking at the outset augmented by prayers to the projector gods).

The normal tsunami of attendees came through the expo floor around 9ish on Saturday, bringing with it the usual hubbub of Linux fest questions, comments and observations. At the CrunchBang booth, media and fliers flew off the table, and folks were trying out the distro on both the old ThinkPad T30 and the newer Toshiba Satellite L455 that were featured on the CrunchBang table. The ebb and flow of humanity — I’m guessing around 1,400 attendees, though LFNW is going to release an official figure soon — rose and fell when sessions were on, but on the whole it was an ideal show for the two days. We ran out of media, fliers and everything by the end of the day on Sunday (OK, I gave the remaining five CrunchBang DVDs to the Greater Seattle LUG, but still).

Some vignettes:

Hey, I know you
: I finally got to meet Benjamin Kerensa, with whom I have shared words — mostly kind but occasionally not-so-kind — in the past. Benjamin and his wife staffed the Mozilla table, and it was great to put a face to the name of a true FOSS advocate with whom I can sometimes disagree without either of us being disagreeable (as it should be). Naturally, I’m looking forward to seeing Benjamin and Mozilla at more shows.

Badges? You need steeenkin’ badges: Most folks would find this trivial, but I thought it was fairly cool. The badges for LFNW were small booklets with the speaker schedule printed inside, along with other important information (like directions to the party on Saturday eve). So at the end of your lanyard, you had the entire fest at your fingertips just by looking “inside” your badge (it should be noted, from a logistical standpoint too, that the names were printed on a sticker and put on the badge). Other shows — SCALE, white courtesy phone — need to look at this because it was very helpful.

Lights, camera, action: For some reason, there tended to be a lot of folks there to do media-type work. Hacker Public Radio was there, as usual, doing interviews (of which I was one — thanks!) and Jupiter Broadcasting had the Linux Action Show broadcasting live from their booth on Saturday — it would be interesting to see their take on the show later. Slashdot had an interviewer as well as some independents (e.g., people with video cameras posting independently to YouTube) interviewing folks, and of course I’ve never shied away from a microphone or a camera before. So there are some items of me talking about CrunchBang out there.

15943044This is us: The CrunchBang booth was an unqualified success in large part from the help I got from xor axiom, whom many of you on the CrunchBang forums know (but whose real name is Eric Bortel). About 100 pieces of media were distributed, with the same amount of fliers accompanying them. Last year, we got a lot of “What’s CrunchBang?” This year, there was more “I’ve used CrunchBang before . . . ” so the distro is becoming more well-known. The presentation itself on Sunday morning had about 30 people in attendance and, as the aforementioned new equipment in the classroom helping out, the presentation went off without a hitch.

Sunday’s broadcast: Since Jupiter Broadcasting left the building on Sunday, I decided to crank up one of my favorite Linux podcasts — Linux Outlaws — on the Toshiba to show that, yes, CrunchBang can broadcast with the best of ‘em. So on the relatively solid backbone of the Bellingham Technical College’s network, Dan Lynch and Fabian “Go Penguins!” Scherschel were in the house for Linux Fest Northwest.

Does this joke make me look stupid? OK, maybe it was the delivery or maybe it’s a generational thing. At the end of my presentation I made a point, as I usually do, to say what a great show LFNW is and to thank the volunteers when encountering them for making the show work. The LFNW volunteer staff wears red shirts (you know where I’m going with this). After I asked folks to thank the volunteers, I added ” . . . and urge them not to go down to the planet surface.” Cue crickets chirping. So maybe I won’t be here all week, but still remember to tip your waitress . . .

There is more to follow (including a rant that has more to do with the human condition than with LFNW), but I have to hit the road.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

North by (Linux Fest) Northwest

April 24, 2013 1 comment

lfnw-badgeToward the end of this week — well, Thursday to be exact — I’ll be loading up the car with a few laptops, about 100 pieces of CrunchBang media (DVDs, not CDs), a paper #! banner, my daughter and her equipment and we’ll head north to Linux Fest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington on April 27-28.

The question now is whether I have the time to swing by Corvallis, Oregon, and maybe stop in to visit Lance Albertson and the folks at both the Oregon State University Open Source Lab and the EECS department at Oregon State on Friday morning . . . .

As those of you who regularly read this blog already know, I say with annoying redundancy that the best Linux/FOSS show in North America is the Southern California Linux Expo. I would say that even if I was not affiliated with it, because it is — an all-volunteer staff puts together a three-day show that clearly rivals the corporate FOSS kumbaya in Portland every summer known as OSCON.

In its 14th year, LFNW is built from the same all-volunteer blueprint; in fact, the folks who put on this fest may claim credit for having a significant hand in drawing up the blueprint since it slightly predates SCALE. This blueprint also is used with other Linux/FOSS events around the country: Indiana Linux Fest, Texas Linux Fest, Ohio Linux Fest . . . the list goes on.

So LFNW is by us for us, and with the attendance growing every year — last year it was around 1,200 for the weekend event — I am always looking forward to going to it. Last year, I said I’d walk to Bellingham to make it to LFNW and I stand by that statement. In short, the show is that good.

15943044I’ll be staffing the CrunchBang booth at LFNW. We also have a Birds of a Feather gathering scheduled for Saturday afternoon and I speak on Sunday at 11 a.m. on “Intro to CrunchBang.” Due to a scheduling conflict with CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough, unfortunately we won’t be having him present remotely at the BoF as we did last year.

Last year, flying the CrunchBang flag was quite successful, as I noted here. Many were surprised that we had a booth, some had never heard of CrunchBang (heresy!) and others were glad to see us there. We even got a couple of new users who tried CrunchBang and liked it. Now if I can get another interview on Hacker Public Radio, we’ll be all set.

Watch this space — updates as they develop.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Marginalia and minutiae

May 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Whew. First of all, I’m sorry I can’t make Utah Open Source Conference this weekend in Orem, but I wish I could. Here’s the thing: When you put two shows on back-to-back weekends, one of them gets the attention and the other . . . not so much. So while I’m still decompressing a bit from Linux Fest Northwest (and while my wallet smolders with burned-through credit cards), I have to pass on what is normally one of the highlights of the year for me. Sorry, guys and gals, you know I love UTOSC but I can’t make it this year.

Just to touch base on a couple of issues today while I still play catch-up after a great weekend in Bellingham:

Single-window GIMP: My prayers to the graphics program gods are answered, finally. Call me slow — I’ve been called worse — but finally GIMP 2.8 is out and, thankfully, it has the single-window that I’ve been waiting for, well, ever since I started using GIMP and would sometimes . . . OK, always . . . get hopefully lost among the multiple panels. Thank you, thank you, thank you, GIMP!

CrunchBang Waldorf right around the corner? The first CrunchBang 11 “Waldorf” development builds are now out — get them here — and it looks like Philip Newborough has produced another winner as soon as it officially leaves the starting blocks sometime soon. Currently I have it running on a ThinkPad T30 and it’s going great guns. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to give the development build a shot, download it and take a few laps.

Mark, Mark, Mark . . . tsk, tsk, tsk: I certainly hope Mark Shuttleworth has tasty shoes, because putting one foot in one’s mouth would require it; to say nothing of how unbecoming whining is, especially from someone trying to be the next Steve Jobs. In this Muktware blog item, The Mark whines about how Red Hat hampered Canonical’s participation with GNOME, which is probably just one observation on the issue, and arguably not exactly an objective one. I didn’t write it, but I wish I had — the first comment on the blog from TheWholeTruth speaks volumes to the real issue.

From Beefy Miracle to Spherical Cow: The Fedora 18 release name was voted on and the results are in: Spherical Cow. That may get the big “huh?” from a lot of folks, but to theoretical physicists and other scientists, Spherical Cow makes perfect sense. Also, it may be a quick sketch, but Juan Rodriguez has drawn an excellent adaptation of the Fedora logo to go along with it, unofficially of course.

One more thing: Happy Birthday to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Uhn! Yeah! Get on up-pah, and have a great birthday!

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Linux Fest Northwest makes its mark

May 1, 2012 1 comment

Those of us who have been to Linux shows, or especially have worked Linux shows, in the past know the drill. It’s something out of “Field of Dreams.” If you build it — the “it” here being a Linux event — they will come, and they will all seem to come right at Saturday morning at 9 sharp when the show officially starts.

They did just that at Linux Fest Northwest. Past its first decade of operation, LFNW has established itself as the premiere Linux event in the region and, as I’ve mentioned before, next to the Southern California Linux Expo, it’s the best show on the West Coast. For two days, geeks in the Northwest get to listen to top-notch presenters — as well as people like me — and visit exhibits from distros, software and hardware makers.

The Bellingham Linux Users Group and volunteers from other open source user groups in the area never fail to put on a great expo, and I think I speak for many attendees when I say that I’m deeply grateful for their efforts. About 1,200 people attended LFNW on the campus of Bellingham Technical College over the weekend. Thanks, LFNW folks.

Here’s a look at the weekend:

Not another distro . . .: Bill Smith and his wife Portia staffed the CrunchBang booth with me, and again my thanks go out to them for the help. Visitors to the booth ranged from those who knew what CrunchBang was to those who whined, “Not another distro . . .” To which I replied far too often, “Yes, another distro. This one is Debian with the OpenBox window manager,” before explaining the advantages of CrunchBang. “There’s a digital Darwinism at play here, with the good distros gathering a strong community and thriving, and others . . . not so much.” There were about 150 pieces of media burned — CDs and DVDs — all of which went out the door with prospective users. I, of course, will sit in the corner with the pointy hat because, truth be told, I forgot the banner and the “success kid” stickers made up for LFNW, but we’ll use ‘em next year.

Hello, I’m Greg DeKoenigsberg: The printed program had it right, as did the Web site. But the large poster on the wall on the Haskell classroom building on Saturday morning had Greg’s presentation on the schedule where I was giving the Intro to CrunchBang talk. With LFNW’s permission, Greg and I had switched presentation times more than a week prior to the event, since he was getting in late. But the poster outside the wall had the old schedule. Try as I might — which, of course, was not very hard — I could not convince the folks that I was the Eucalyptus VP. After an announcement that if you were there for Greg’s talk, it would be tomorrow, only a couple of people bailed out. As for my talk, it went as well as my talks usually go — no one was injured and law enforcement officials were nowhere to be found — and Scott Dowdle videotaped it, so as soon as that gets posted, I’ll let you know.

The (two) big thing(s): The big thing at Linux Fest Northwest — not including OpenSUSE rep Bryen Yunashko’s hat — was the Pogo Linux’s booth, which featured a full-fledged, sit-behind-the-wheel racing game with three large-screen monitors, where drivers navigated a course and prizes were given for the fastest laps. No, my racing days are far behind me, but from what I was told by someone who raced cars and turned the second fastest lap on Saturday, it was very realistic. Another big thing — bigger to the Android crowd, apparently, and arguably just as fast as the racing game — was the ZaReason tablet, which many folks tried out at our booth (ZaReason shared the CrunchBang booth at LFNW). Keep an eye on that, since this full-fledged Android tablet will be coming out very soon.

Hands across the water: It was a grand experiment, though operator error by yours truly may have kept it from being a huge success. But during the CrunchBang Birds of a Feather meetup on Sunday morning, we used a Google+ Hangout to raise CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough. Sort of. Despite getting dropped a couple of times — once because I hit the wrong key — we got to talk about the show, about what’s coming up for CrunchBang and things along those lines, and it was very informative for those in attendance. Thanks, Philip, and Rebecca Newborough as well, who in her capacity as the CrunchBang Community Leader also participated from the Lincoln side of things.

Bon mots: I’m still apologizing to Deb Nicholson for forgetting her surname in introducing her to Philip Newborough at the BoF on Sunday morning. You know you work with someone in FOSS circles for years and something like this happens . . . . A shout-out goes to Eric Craw, a new CrunchBang user from Washington who converted at Linux Fest Northwest. Not only did he start using CrunchBang, but he already started contributing code back to the project, showing that this is what FOSS is all about . . . . David Whitman of Hacker Public Radio gave me a few minutes of interview time at the end of Linux Fest Northwest, so all that thumping and loading in the background may or may not be audible once the interview is broadcast . . . . I drove 962 miles each way to attend LFNW, but this show is so great that I would have walked 962 miles to get to Bellingham. Again, kudos to the LFNW crew.

Start rumors: In my capacity as publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo, I finally got to sit down with my good friends Warren Sanders and Scott Dowdle, and two folks from the Big Sky Country that I hadn’t met — Rocky Mountain College’s Andrew Niemantsverdreit and Gary Bummer, who is Scott’s colleague at Montana State University — and the five of us discussed bringing an event to their area. So be on the lookout for Montana Linux Fest, or something like it, in 2013.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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