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FOSS Rock Stars at SCALE 14x

Sure you go to Linux expos such as SCALE to sharpen your coding skills and to learn about how to get your hands dirty going under the hood with you favorite open source applications. You might even go to learn a little bit about the business of open source. But you have to admit that an added attraction is just getting to see presentations from FOSS rock stars, the well known movers and shakers who have taken a big part in shaping the past, present and future of free and open source software. These are people whose presentations you’ll be tempted to attend no matter what the subject because…well, just because. Some of these are legends; some are not. But they’re all rock stars. And as usual, there’ll be an abundance of them at SCALE.

Cory DoctorowThe Superstars

Cory Doctorow: Here’s a FOSS rock star if ever there was one — and something of a renaissance man to boot. He’s a science fiction writer, activist, journalist, blogger, and all around good guy — as long as you’re willing to forgive him for his involvement at Boing Boing where he is co-editor. His activism includes working towards liberalising copyright laws and support of the Creative Commons licences, under which he releases his books. Even some of the themes he touches on in his novels are FOSS crowd pleasers. How does digital rights management and file sharing strike you fancy?

At this year’s SCALE, Doctorow will be the keynote speaker on Friday at 9 a.m. On what will he be talking? Look for a clue in the title: “No Matter Who’s Winning the War on General Purpose Computing, You’re Losing.”

Jon maddog Hall
Jon maddog Hall
Jon maddog Hall: Here at FOSS Force, Ken Starks doesn’t seem to be able to mention Maddog (which Mr. Hall prefers to be called) without following it with the words “rock star.”

Hall’s career in computing started in 1969, and he’s worked as a programmer, systems designer, systems administrator, product manager, technical marketing manager, author and educator. In the FOSS world we know him as, among other things, the president and executive director of Linux International, an association of computer users who support and promote Linux.

He’s also a much sought after regular speaker at FOSS events. This year he’ll be joining Jono Bacon and Keila Banks onstage for a discussion called “FLOSS Reflections.” Look for this one Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Mark Shuttleworth UbuCon
Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Shuttleworth: The founder, onetime CEO and still head honcho of Canonical/Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth needs no introduction, maybe even outside of FOSS and Linux circles. He’s in the record books as the second self-funded space tourist and as the first South African in space. He became filthy rich in 1999 when a company he founded, Thawte Consulting, was acquired by VeriSign for $575 million.

I’ve never seen Shuttleworth speak, but only because I’ve never had the opportunity, and if I lived anywhere near the LA Basin I’d make a special trip to Pasadena just to see him. Why? Because love him or hate him, this guy has done more to change the public face of Linux than anyone since Linus Torvalds. With Ubuntu he has redefined “user friendly” desktop Linux.

Yup, he’s controversial and many of his business ideas and practices seem downright heretical to many FOSS practitioners, but he’s one of the biggest rock stars we have. Make no mistake: this man has as much influence over the direction Linux is taking as anyone.

You’ll get the opportunity to see Shuttleworth twice at SCALE. On Thursday January 21 he’ll be giving the opening keynote address for UbuCon, and on Saturday morning, June 23, he’ll be keynoting for SCALE itself.

Maybe not superstars, but they still make great albums

Jono Bacon
Jono Bacon
Jono Bacon: Last year Jono Bacon was a keynoter at last year’s All Things Open (ATO) conference and gave a talk called “A Crash Course in Bacon Flavored Community Management.” I caught the keynote, but unfortunately missed the talk as it conflicted with Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols’ talk on FOSS and media. ‘Tis a pity, because his short keynote was quite entertaining.

Bacon is all about community and community building, which makes him a perfect candidate for FOSS rock star status in my book — because as far as I’m concerned, community is the most important aspect of FOSS. He comes with a pretty impressive resume, with almost every item touching on community. Among other things, he’s the director of community at GitHub, a former Ubuntu community manager at Canonical, the author of “The Art of Community,” a columnist for Forbes and, founder of the Community Leadership Summit, and co-founder of the Bad Voltage and LugRadio podcasts. Not bad for one guy, eh?

He’s also very much in demand as a speaker, so much so that the website Factual Error had a field day on Saturday in an article claiming that Bono has been cloned so he can speak at Scale/UbuCon representing both Canonical and GitHub.

Elizabeth Krumbach
Elizabeth K Krumbach
Elizabeth K. Joseph: I’ve never seen Ms. Joseph speak, but I did converse with her for a half hour or so at ATO in 2014 — and last year she donated an autographed copy of her book (coauthored by Matthew Helmke), “The Official Ubuntu Book,” as well as some nifty Ubuntu stickers for us to offer as perks for last year’s FOSS Force fundraising campaign.

Like Bacon, Joseph is all about community. For her day job, she’s an engineer for HP working on OpenStack. Otherwise, she’s very much a Ubuntu cheerleader. In addition to co-writing the Ubuntu book, she spent six years on the Ubuntu Community Council and will be giving a talk on the opening day at UbuCon on “Building a Career with Ubuntu and FOSS.” She’s also on the Board of Directors at Partimus, a non-profit that provides Linux computers to schools in need.

Also like Bacon, she’ll be pulling double duty at SCALE. In addition to Thursday’s UbuCon talk, on Friday she’ll be giving a talk for SCALE on “Open Source Tools for Distributed Systems Administration,” which is obviously geared for folks a little more technically advanced than I.

Bryan Lunduke
Bryan Lunduke
Bryan Lunduke: In case you don’t know, Bryan Lunduke is the self-professed “Linux Tycoon” and definitely a legend-in-his-own-mind sort of guy. That doesn’t keep him from being a true legend, however. He’s a writer — his work appears most frequently on InfoWorld – and a master of self-promotion. He’s also a regular feature at SCALE.

If you want to see some typical Lunduke antics, I’ll direct you to a series of articles he penned last year for Network World on Kicking Google Out of My Life. Either that or watch a video of his patented and trademarked Linux Sucks presentation.

As usual, Lunduke returns to SCALE to yet again let everyone know exactly how much “Linux sucks.” You’ll have to stick around to see him, however, as he’s on late. Very late. He’s scheduled to take the podium on Thursday at 8 p.m. We can expect the audience to be…er, well oiled, by that late hour.

Up and coming

Keila Banks
Keila Banks
Keila Banks: If you haven’t yet heard of Keila Banks, something tells me you will. She’s only 14 years old and she’s already a mainstay at SCALE, having been a presenter since she was eleven. Not only that, she was a keynoter at last years OSCON, with a talk that led Business Insider to proclaim: “This 13-year-old Programmer Wowed 4,000 People with an Inspiring Keynote Speech.” I saw that keynote live online. Yes, I was wowed.

As if that’s not enough, she’s also an entrepreneur, web designer and programmer — and she’s been featured on MSNBC. Oh, I almost forgot, she’s also the kid sister of Hunter Banks, who covers open source gaming here on FOSS Force.

This year she’ll be taking the stage on SCALE’s opening day alongside Maddog Hall and Jono Bacon for the already mentioned “FLOSS Reflections” — not bad for a 14 year old. She’ll also be giving a presentation on Saturday called “The Automated Teen.”


I could include more FOSS rock stars who’ll be at SCALE — Ruth Suehle and Sarah Sharp come immediately to mind — but this should be enough to get you started. Besides, I’m reasonably sure that the astute readership here at FOSS Force will mention folks I’ve left out in the comments below.

Editor’s note: Article was updated 1/12/15 to reflect Jono Bacon’s current position at GitHub.

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