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Are You Going Conferencing?

This year, we at FOSS Force are expanding our coverage of Linux, FOSS and OSS conferences. This got us wondering, in a self serving sort of way, how many of you regularly attend conferences?

At this point, it’s looking as if we’ll have boots on the ground at three conferences, all scheduled for late October. In fact, we’re already hard at work coordinating our efforts to cover these events.

All Things Open

First up will be our coverage of All Things Open (ATO), a two day conference to be held on October 22 and 23, which will be covered by Christine Hall. Last year, you might remember, we got our feet wet with Hall’s coverage of the inaugural bow of ATO. Hall says that last year was her first try at conference coverage, that she learned quite a bit and that this year’s coverage will be even better.

All Things Open Conference
Photo taken during one of the keynote addresses at last year’s All Things Open
click to enlarge
ATO is focused on the enterprise, which is another way of saying that its sites are set on the business end of open source software. Even though only in its second year, it’s already positioned itself as an essential event for developers and coders seeking to increase skill sets and remain up-to-date on the latest technologies. In addition, the Raleigh conference offers many presentations aimed at sysadmins who keep critical services up and running, as well as front office execs who make financial decisions.

Although ATO is almost entirely an enterprise event, that doesn’t mean it offers nothing of interest to everyday FOSS users who’s understanding of code amounts to little more than a few Bash commands and some HTML. Hall says that definition fits her perfectly.

“I learned a lot at last year’s conference and had a great time,” she says. “Some of the presentations aimed at executive types are also good for anyone who’s just interested in open source, because they do things such as going over the different types of licenses and the different business models being used in the open source world.

All Things Open Conference“The biggest thing I walked away with last year,” she adds, “is that open source is in good hands — despite some bad players who want to bend the rules suit to their own purposes. I was impressed by how nearly all of the coders and developers, the folks who work in the trenches, completely ‘get’ open source and what it’s about. As a rule, these folks are just as adamant about ‘keeping open source open’ as those of us in the FOSS camp. Seeing that first hand was very gratifying.”

Although the schedule for ATO is already impressive, it’s not completely set yet. Just this morning the conference sent out an email announcing eleven additional speakers who’ve been added to the roster. By our count, this brings the number of speakers up to over a hundred.

Ohio LinuxFest

In addition to All Thing’s Open, we’re also gearing up for our coverage of Ohio LinuxFest (OLF), a three day event to be held in Columbus, Ohio, beginning on October 24. Unlike ATO, this conference is aimed at the entire Linux and free software community, from developer to home user alike, with an emphasis on FOSS.

This year, FOSS Force writer Ken Starks is on the schedule as a keynote speaker, alongside Ruth Suehle, a community marketing manager in Red Hat’s Open Source and Standards group and Jon “maddog” Hall, who should need no introduction (among other things, he’s Executive Director of Linux International and a true rock star in FOSS circles).

A few weeks back, when we asked Starks why he would recommend the conference, he said, “Ohio LinuxFest is the largest and most popular Linux event in all of America’s heartland. …I don’t think there is any other event in that area which will give you a sense of just how big and supportive the Linux community can be. So, yeah, if you get a chance to go, do so by all means. I can’t really describe to you the excitement I feel about attending this year.”

Jon "maddog" Hall conference
Jon “maddog” Hall will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Ohio LinuxFest.
Another good thing about OLF is that it’s free with advance registration, or only five bucks for those who pay at the door. Those who can’t be there in person shouldn’t fret. As Starks is going to be there in his role of a keynote speaker anyway, we’ve enlisted him to offer up some coverage for FOSS Force. He’ll also be writing additional articles on the event on his own Blog of Helios.

Seattle GNU/Linux Conference

We’re also hoping to have Larry Cafiero cover the Seattle GNU/Linux Conference (SeaGL), a two day event that’s also scheduled to kick-off on October 24, the same day as OLF. “Hoping” is a keyword here, as our presence at this event is still tentative and depends on whether Cafiero can fit it into his schedule. We’re betting he will, but we’re hedging our bet ever-so-slightly just in case.

Like OLF, SeaGL’s focus is on free software — to the point where they promise that registration will “not require the use of non-free software.” Also like OLF, it costs nothing to attend. We can’t tell you much else about this one yet, as a schedule still hasn’t been posted to the event website. As soon as we know, we’ll pass it on.

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It might seem strange that there will be three world class events happening during the same week, with all competing for potentially the same audience. Being the publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Cafiero has some experience in such matters and says this isn’t as much of a problem as it may seem, mainly due to the strength of FOSS.

“A couple of years ago,” he says, “SCALE had to push back the expo a month due to construction at the hotel and it bumped up against the schedule for Linux Conf Australia. Both expos were successful because FOSS’s reach is broad enough around the world to accommodate two shows that close together. By the same token, I’m confident that FOSS is broad enough to accommodate shows thousands of miles from each other in the U.S. as well.”

In addition to SeaGL, Cafiero also plans to cover SCALE for us in February as well as any other conferences he attends, so stay tuned…

Obviously, with all of this coverage of conventions going on, we’re interested in knowing what you think, so we’re asking for your input in two ways. First, take our down and dirty poll, which simply asks if you’re planning on attending a conference in the next year. If you are, we’d like to know which conference or conferences you’re planning to attend, as well as which conferences you’d recommend to others and why. For that, use the comments section below.

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