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Posts Tagged ‘Linux Fest Northwest’

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!

What you see is what you get

July 11, 2013 4 comments

Surprise: It’s not Sunday, but still here’s a Larry the Free Software Guy blog post.

I was speaking to someone today who was recently “slashdotted” — clearly both a rite of passage and a badge of honor in FOSS circles — and I started to think about my experience on Slashdot a few months ago.

At Linux Fest Northwest, a videographer interviewed me about CrunchBang, and it ended up on Slashdot. No, I didn’t change my surname to “Califero,” as the title shows at the beginning of the video, but never mind. There’s about 18 or so minutes of me talking about CrunchBang — about the same length of time in the gap in the Watergate tapes (purely coincidental, I assure you) — but I thought it was a lot of fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I should mention that although I didn’t respond to any of the comments, I found a great majority of them to be entertaining and hilarious. I am grateful for the entertainment. I could have addressed the phalanx of malcontents who seem to have nothing better to do than post comments on Slashdot articles (that, of course, does not include all commenters, but some), but I decided not to. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a raindrop in the Pacific, so I just enjoyed the moment.

This morning, I thought about the video and the Slashdot experience because there are comments that I thought were unfair and could use clarification.

Specifically, one commenter said that there was an opportunity missed and, to paraphrase, the commenter implied I didn’t “sell” CrunchBang properly. That’s interesting because it wasn’t a sales pitch, and as much as CrunchBang works for me, it might not work for him or her — that’s a determination that one has to make for one’s self by trying it.

In fact, in my opinion, the only thing FOSS advocates for any distro or FOSS program should “sell” is the concept of using whichever distro or FOSS program works for you. If there was anything lacking in the video, it’s this.

As an aside, CrunchBang’s lead developer Philip Newborough himself has said this in the past, and it’s on a slide in my standard CrunchBang presentation: “It is a common mistake to think that every developer wants their project to be widely popular.”

The other thing I wanted to mention — and something else I find humorous — is this: A slew of Captain Obvious wannabes couldn’t help pointing out to me, and to others (which, sooner or later, made their way back to me) that I may not be the most handsome or eloquent “spokesman” for the distro.

First of all, I’m not CrunchBang’s spokesman. That would be Philip Newborough. But let’s put that aside for a second.

It may come as a surprise to some, but I am at peace with the fact that I no longer possess my drop-dead handsome boyish charm of decades past, and I realize my public speaking skills run hot and cold; nothing short of plastic surgery and hair transplants could remotely help the former, and I’m working to be more consistent on the latter.

Other than forum moderator, I hold no official title within the CrunchBang community. I lend my fairly extensive experience as a FOSS exhibitor to CrunchBang at the shows I attend with permission from the lead developer, and I gladly do this at my own expense.

I contribute time, and occasionally money, because CrunchBang is an exceptional project based on a remarkable Debian-based distro backed by a community model of service and cooperation. Being as involved as I am, I feel there are two options I can take: I could say nothing to others about it and keep all this FOSS goodness to myself, or I could let others know about this great thing called CrunchBang and let them decide if they want to be a part of it.

Keeping it to myself would be selfish, so I let others know — yeah, I plead guilty to evangelistic zeal at times, but in the end it’s really up to you to try it and determine if it’s right for you. That last part? I make that point in presentation after presentation I give about CrunchBang and hope it sinks in.

So those of you who aren’t using it, or haven’t tried it, give it a shot and let me know what you think. If you like it? Great. If it’s not for you? OK then, thanks for giving it a shot.

In the end, what you see is really what you get.

See you Sunday.

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!

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