I went to the Ohio Linux Fest this year to give the closing keynote address to somewhere around 300 folks. And trust me…this will show up later so you’ll know what I mean…the last two minutes of my keynote were the best part. Wait for it…soon.
But that wasn’t the sum of what I brought home. What I came home with was something a bit more substantial…. I came home with great expectations and hope for our future. “Our” future? It’s not like I have a crystal ball or a divining rod. But I do have a unique perspective on who will lead us into that future. They range from second year high school students to grown adults in their first year of college.
Linux is more than an alternative operating system. It’s an entire culture of sharing, of learning…and learning how to share. The torch will be passed from graybeards like Jon “Maddog” Hall to the young who are now making their talents known. Guys like Michael Schultheiss and Warren Moore…and I am just breaking my brain trying to remember the java programmer who Randy Noseworthy and I had lunch with. It’s these people that will lead us to Mars, cure diabetes and make cancer an inconvenience and not a death sentence.
The talks or sessions ran from the ultra-technical to more sociological areas…like my keynote. Brilliant minds gathered to look upon the work of others and ask others to look upon theirs. The open source/Linux culture isn’t about competing…its about collaboration and cooperation. I interviewed a young lady, quite introverted but intense. Her name is Lauren and she really didn’t want to be “officially” interviewed. She stated that this was her first Linux fest and that she would make any decisions about attending more fests based on what Ohio gave to her.
On Saturday night the after party was an odd, almost esoteric experience. As I sat with Michael Schultheiss and Beth Lynn Eicher, the sound track from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” pounded out through the system speakers as “Plan 9 From Outer Space” played out on the big screen. It brought back a bit of dialog I remembered:
“We could take in an old Steve Reeves movie…”
If you get that, you get it. If not, here…have some toast.
Speaking of Lauren, as I made my way back to the bar to get my single malt freshened, I spotted her at a table with some of the BSD folks. She was laughing so hard, she was having trouble catching her breath. Whaddaya wanna bet that we’ll be seeing her again?
Oh, and by the way…she’s a programmer fluent in three marketable languages. She interviews for a new job at a small junior college close to the Kentucky border next week. I hope she isn’t competing with someone already there. It won’t even be a contest.
Next week, catch a blow by blow as I talk about the sessions I attended. I am waiting for permissions for some people so we can publish. See you Tuesday.
Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue