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June 12th, 2015

In Search of SELF in the Queen City

Day one of this year’s SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF) was kind of slow, without the bone crushing crowds I expect to see at an open source conference. However, talking with the go-to person at SELF, Jeremy Sands, I understand that this is normal for this conference. It seems that Charlotte is a city with a strong work ethic, keeping the crowd away until the weekend. Still, nearly five hundred in attendance isn’t deserving of sneers — especially on a “slow” day.

SouthEast LinuxFest 2015Somehow I managed to get up on time to make the hour and a half trip from my house to the Charlotte area in plenty of time for the 9 A.M. opening, groggy from only getting about three hours sleep, then wondered why I bothered arriving early. After all, the first presentation I planned to attend wasn’t until 11:30, and with no keynote address scheduled for Friday morning, that left me with a lot of time on my hands.

So I did what any good (or bad) journalist would do, I walked the halls looking for a friendly face, willing to talk with anyone who’d talk back.

Tarus Balog

Taurus Balog, “the mouth of OpenNMS” says that open source is dead — but he doesn’t mean it.

Right away I ran across Brian Proffitt, whom many of you will remember from his days covering Linux and FOSS for news sites or from the time he spent at Linux Today. These days he’s all but given up journalism for real work, at Red Hat. However, the presentation he’s giving on Sunday here at SELF has a writerly ring to the title: “It’s Metaphors All the Way Down.”

I also had a chance to talk with Deb Nicholson with the Open Invention Network, who’ll be giving a talk on Saturday about software patent litigation. Funny thing, patents were hardly mentioned in our conversation. Mainly we talked about tech corporations under the headings: the good, the bad and the pure evil. If anyone sees Clint Eastwood, tell him I have a movie idea…

Then there were the two guys with no names from Rackspace, who are up from Austin, Texas — if I understand correctly. I call them that because it seems they were in such a rush to get to SELF (it was a last minute decision) that they forgot to bring their business cards — meaning their corporate lords will now have to send them back to the factory to be readjusted, as Arlo Guthrie might say.

Anyway, they’re at SELF on a recruiting mission and they really, really, really need some qualified people. Business is good evidently. I hear it’s a good place to work, so if you’re in the Charlotte area, need a job and you’ve got some computer skills, drop in to SELF now through Sunday. You just might find gainful employment.

Tom Callaway

Red Hat’s Tom Callaway talking about open source licenses.

Just before lunch, I attended Red Hat’s Tom Callaway’s (are double possessives allowed?) discussion on FOSS licenses. Most entertaining was his talk on some self written and extremely offbeat licenses, most of which are unenforceable. My favorite? The DNR, which states, “This software can’t be used by anyone who is living.” Tom’s advice to developers: Use an existing license and don’t try to write your own.

After lunch I took in “Open Source Is Dead,” a presentation by Tarus Balog, better known as the mouth of OpenNMS. Oh, he’s the CEO too. He’s also a hoot. And don’t worry, he said, open source isn’t dead: “I just said that mainly to get your attention.”

One thing he said really did catch my attention: “Overseas they don’t really trust proprietary software anymore.” Yup. I’ve been saying that here on FOSS Force for a while — like from the moment Snowden began giving us the lowdown on the NSA. I got a chance to ask him about that later on. He said that he and some of his open source business cronies were talking about that recently. He said the Snowden revelations are costing the proprietary guys and gals billions. I said that might explain Microsoft’s new Transparency Center in Belgium.

Che Stallman

Che Stallman

Oh, he also had the coolest slide of Richard Stallman GIMPed into Che Guevara drag. He sent me a copy to share with you. Go ahead, buy a support contract for OpenNMS to thank him. Tell him I sent you and he might give you a deal – or maybe not.

As you might expect from a conference with a mandate to exhibit some good ol’ southern hospility, there was no shortage of good people at day one. I especially enjoyed meeting Chuck Aurora and his “sixteen going on seventeen” year old daughter, who are up with the whole family from Mississippi to talk with folks about Internet Systems Consortium. If you see them at SELF, tell them you were reading about them on FOSS Force.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

1 comment to In Search of SELF in the Queen City

  • Thank you, Christine. We enjoyed meeting you as well, and look forward to seeing you at SELF next year (if not at other events too.) SELF was excellent this time, even without me as a speaker. 😉