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July 12th, 2016

Having a Gas at Texas Linux Fest 2016

Deep in the heart of Texas, the Heart of Linux delves into the heart of the Texas Linux Fest. A good time was had by all.

The Heart of Linux

Texas Linux Fest 2016 is in the books, safely tucked away in the annals of free open source history, The wonderful folks who make TLF happen were again gracious enough to give Reglue a booth in the expo hall, and for those who are watching from home, space in any TLF expo hall ain’t cheap. Just like last year, Reglue Vice President Carolyn Huxley was gracious enough to work our booth and answer questions like, “What’s a Reglue?” My personal thanks for her help.

Slow start at Texas Linux Fest 2016

Turnout was notably less than expected and appeared to be lower than any Texas Linux Fest in memory. While many of us discussed possible reasons for this, I’m not sure we’ll ever really know why. I will assure you, however, that the low turnout was not attributable to the quality of the presentations. Those I queried left the lecture halls impressed and even excited about things they learned.

As for the presentations, I believe I was most impressed by the talk given by Robinson Tryon, who spoke on LibreOffice online, and in particular how the office suite might be deployed in OwnCloud. One of the biggest concerns being expressed about bringing LibreOffice online is whether it’s a redundant effort, a point not lost on those in attendance. Addressing this point, Tryon explained that LibreOffice is the only suite among the others online, including Google Docs and Office 365, which fully supports Open Document Format. Only time will tell if that is reason enough to swing over to using LibreOffice online.

Libre Office Texas Linux Fest 2016

It was unfortunate that I was called away not far into Tryon’s presentation, because I’d come preparred with some questions to ask after the talk. Oh well, maybe next year….

As always, my first stop at Texas Linux Fest was the Free Software Foundation. I know how cheesy it sounds, but I’ve got to give my testimony here…the FSF changed my life. Literally. the Free Software Foundation changed the way I think, the way I live, and the way I interact with others on a daily basis. No, I’m not in lockstep with every Stallmanista in the ranks, but I have been completely changed by the philosophies and ideals of that FSF.

On Saturday morning, just as he threatened, Dr. James Simpson took his place by manning the FSF booth. Constant activity swirled around the FSF table. At times you could not see the end of the booth row, due to the gatherings around the FSF presence. No matter how many times I tried, I was unable to get to the table to greet Simpson and to catch up on his life and family.

FSF Texas Linux Fest 2016

James Simpson (waving) and his daughter Sasha (in red) at the FSF booth at Texas Linux Fest 2016.

His oldest daughter, Sasha. accompanied her dad to Austin for the event. Besides being sweet, respectful and confident, she’s an extremely bright young lady with an impressive grasp of the whole scope of free and open source software. Her dad must be ultra-proud of her.

The exhibition that caught my attention most was the OpenShot booth. OpenShot is a video design and editing tool for Linux, which is a crowded field in the Linuxsphere. Much angst has been expressed about the complexity and lack of functions in the various video editors in Linux.

I spoke with Jonathan Thomas about his project and how he has built it with dweebs like me as well as professional video creators and editors in mind. The point Thomas makes clear is that any job with complexity is going to take a complex tool to do the job. He mused that people who want to do fairly complex tasks don’t seem able to comprehend this simple fact. He has a goal of creating a tool with much of the complexity automated or fully explained within the application — in real time, as it’s needed.

OpenShot Texas Linux Fest 2016

The OpenShot Booth at Texas Linux Fest 2016.

One or two paragraphs will do neither Thomas nor OpenShot justice, so stay tuned for a full-on interview with Jonathan Thomas next week.

It was also good to see my friend Thomas Cameron at Texas Linux Fest. Cameron is a Red Hat rock star. His job entails global travel and he’s the gold standard in project management and Red Hat Linux in the commercial realm. Aside from that, he has the ability to be a good friend and has been a good friend of mine for years. Besides, he gave me, oh wait for it…a red hat. Go figure.

And shameless plug time, there was also a presentation by the vice president of Reglue, the already mentioned Carolyn Hulsey, who presented a lecture on who we are and what we do. Reglue has expanded the scope of our services to the community and she made the official announcement as to what those services are. We not only provide computers for students who cannot afford them, we are now delving into aiding our senior community in understanding how to use computers, with a focus on removing the fear and anxiety that often comes with computer use.

Reglue Texas Linux Fest 2016

Reglue Vice President Carolyn Huxley giving her presentation at Texas Linux Fest 2016.

Which leads to this little anecdote from the Reglue booth:

A young man looked at our table and picked up one of our fliers. After scanning it and flipping it arrogantly back on the table, he looked down at me and asked, “Why do you even bother?”

With a dead-serious face I answered him.

“Because you won’t”

I didn’t see him again on our row in the expo hall again.

We’ll see you next week with our interview with Jonathan Thomas, creator and lead developer for OpenShot, and hopefully a link or two covering some of the great lectures given this year at Texas Linux Fest. Same FOSS time, Same FOSS channel.

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Ken Starks writes and publishes The Blog of Helios, a finalist in our Best FOSS or Linux Blog competition. In addition, he's the person behind the Reglue project, which refurbishes older computers and gives them to disadvantaged school kids in the Austin, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @Reglue

8 comments to Having a Gas at Texas Linux Fest 2016

  • anonymous

    “Turnout was notably less than expected…”
    I didn’t know TLF was Friday, until Friday.

  • Chris Rodriguez

    Texas linux fest was amazing. Hope you go next year

  • Mah Fellow Murkuhn

    Well, it’s Texas. Texas is having a hard time right now. When the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general all lack the intelligence of a common garden slug, things tend to go off the rails and people are distracted from these types of events.

  • I didn’t know about the event or I would have gone. Next year, try having an article on Slashdot (and related sites) a couple of months before the event…

    BTW, I am looking for Linux admins that are familiar with ZFS On Linux to help grow a small backup-server business in the San Antonio area. Willing to train, but must have at least 2 years experience as a Linux admin OR a well-developed home setup. Familiarity with Squid, SAS, Samba, MAC OS and Virtualbox is a plus. Over 50 are welcome to apply. Must be able to demonstrate skills. Serious inquiries only, [email protected] / kindly remove the nospam before sending.

  • @DaveB Just so you know, you can just post the email in a normal fashion. Our site removes the email from the page source so it’s not there for the bots and uses a script to have it reinserted by the browser. 🙂

  • @LBJ It probably has more to do with the fact that the much larger and more well known OSCON was held in Austin a few months back, eclipsing TLF. Probably had little to do with Texas politics.

  • Jeremy

    This article, posted on Tuesday July 12th is the first thing I’ve seen mention this event in Texas. I would have gone if someone would have perhaps posted something about it *before* the event.

    Also, Ken, I’ve made several attempts to contact re-glue about donating some computer equipment. Do you still take donations?

  • Robert Glen Fogarty

    Loved your response to the “Why do you even bother?” guy. I’m sorry you run into so many jerks in the course of doing wonderful things for people, but I’m glad you’re not so easily discouraged!