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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.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge GIMP Scribus Linux Mint Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python scale 10x

Eliminate DRM!

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