February 25th, 2016

Speaking on BSD: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Larry the BSD Guy

The BSD devil resides in a penguin’s DNA.

After answering various calls for presentations to a few upcoming shows, it stands to reason that Tom Petty is right: The waiting is the hardest part.

Because I now use PC-BSD on a daily basis, the idea going forward is to pitch talks about the conversion from one side of the Free/Open Source Software street to the other; the uplifting situations and occasional hurdle such a conversion brings, and to outline the similarities (lots) and differences (few, but relatively significant) between Linux distros and BSD variants.

Full disclosure: No one realizes more than I do how difficult this talk is to compartmentalize among the specific categories that some shows have. This talk can best be described as a verbal Venn diagram showing the overlapping advantages that Linux and BSD provide, and then point out the differences between the two.

So out there at a few shows in the annual FOSS lineup, the speaker committees have my presentation proposal, entitled “The Devil in the Details: Switching to BSD from Linux,” and parts of my stock submission, gleaned here from the proposal to LinuxFest Northwest, goes like this:

Even though these Penguins and Devils players duke it out in the National Hockey League, it doesn't mean that Linux users and BSD users have to do the same in the FOSS realm, right? Right? (Photo Credit: The Pensblog, Creative Commons Attibution 3.0 Unported)

Even though these Penguins and Devils players duke it out in the National Hockey League, it doesn’t mean that Linux users and BSD users have to do the same in the FOSS realm, right? Right? (Photo Credit: The Pensblog, Creative Commons Attibution 3.0 Unported)

“When you mention Devils and Penguins — the mascots for both BSD and Linux, respectively — the first thing that might immediately come to mind is an NHL hockey game between New Jersey (the Devils) and Pittsburgh (the Penguins). But we’re not going there with this presentation because, for starters, it’s not a competition.

“Most Free/Open Source Software users run Linux as their operating system of choice, choosing one (or more) of the 300 or so distros currently active on DistroWatch. Not as many have crossed the street, rhetorically speaking, and taken a look at the other Open Source operating system, BSD and its many variants.

“As a long time and current Linux user new to PC-BSD — essentially the BSD equivalent to Linux Mint — my intention is to:

“ — Outline the (many) similarities and (few) differences between Linux and BSD,

“ — Walk the audience through the process of moving from Linux to BSD, unless the audience needs to catch a flight, then I’ll run them through it,

“ — Describe the ease-of-use and pitfalls of day-to-day use of PC-BSD for the average user,

“ — How to pitch in and make code and other contributions (e.g., documentation, translation) to BSD variants, even while doing the same for Linux distributions,

“ — And more!

“This talk is more of an overview rather than instructional, though resources will be made available regarding where to download BSD variants and fundamental instructions on how to install it.”

OK, first, the title is no “Doc Like an Egyptian,” but I think it holds its own. Additionally, in events which asked for further details about what may be included in the presentation, I outlined the possibility — the possibility, mind you, but no guarantees as nothing was set in stone — that my talk would include a laser-light extravaganza, a sing-along (probably a madrigal), and a human sacrifice.

So…a talk about a unique FOSS topic, a laser-light show, madrigals, and a human sacrifice.

Seriously, how could any speaker selection committee resist?

First up: OSCON. The folks at O’Reilly thankfully kept my perfect record of rejections intact. Thanks, folks — no, really. It’s hard to tell whether our friends in Sebastopol are just adverse to laser-light shows or they really have a thing against leading the audience in song at tech events. You’ll see me in Austin anyway, and it is my most sincere hope that, at the very least, the folks making the decisions for OSCON speakers are at least getting a good laugh at my submissions over the years.

I’m still waiting and hoping on LinuxFest Northwest in April. Let’s be clear about one thing: I’m proud of my work for SCALE and I think SCALE the best FOSS expo in North America, if not the entire planet, but I have said on multiple occasions that LFNW is my favorite FOSS expo to attend. Whether or not my talk is accepted, I’ll go anyway because LFNW’s overwhelming “community feel” — opposed to the corporate tone of other shows — makes LFNW a must-attend show. No, I’m not just saying that because I want to speak there – I’ve spoken in Bellingham in the past and it was a privilege to do so.

The only other event so far other than OSCON and LFNW that has considered my talk — or, at least, has my proposal — is BSDCan 2016, the Canadian BSD fest in Ottawa in June. It will be my first BSD event of any kind, so I really have my fingers crossed for that one. But I can’t help that it will be preaching to the choir, so to speak. Nevertheless, I have a passport application already filled out just in case they say, “Come on up, eh?”

Other expos throughout this year should be forewarned: You’ll be seeing this on your CFP doorstep sometime during the course of the year. Thanks in advance for your consideration, and try not to laugh too hard.

See you next week.

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Larry Cafiero

Larry Cafiero, a.k.a. Larry the Free Software Guy, is a journalist and a Free/Open Source Software advocate. He is involved in several FOSS projects and serves as the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo. Follow him on Twitter: @lcafiero

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5 comments to Speaking on BSD: The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

  • eMBee

    it’s disappointing. looking beyond the horizon of our own linux ecosystem is important, and if i were a conference organizer i would accept your topic in a heartbeat!

    and as a participant i would definitely want to go see it.

    i hope that you will be accepted somewhere and there will be a recording of your talk, where-ever you end up presenting it.

    good luck!

    greetings, eMBee.

  • Good luck, Larry! You are correct, waiting is the hardest part. I look forward to seeing that you are speaking at several events, even when I can not make them myself.

  • Where’s the beef?

    Ok, talking about talking about BSD at a conference is a subject I suppose. But here? It is boring. Good Luck and all that.

    Let’s get some stories on the ‘Beef’ about BSD which is what everyone needs to know. Yes? Good then.

  • Gonzalo

    Perhaps BSD is the future refuge for the present GNU/Linux and FLOSS lovers that are getting tired or fearsome of the path Linux is taking (corporations ruling it all, things going too much commercial…).
    But expecting the Linux guys open their arms to a talk that will lead users towards BSD (with few going back options) is naive 😉
    One certain day we left windblow$ for good (some others MacOS). I fear the day I’ll have to leave RedHatDominated OS to be a full-time BSD user… but my brain is preparing my heart for that, eventually.

  • English Guy

    I have always been interested in trying BSD but my primary interest, low latency pro audio (ie using your computer as a recording studio), seems to be a non starter in BSD land even though well supported on Linux.