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June 3rd, 2016

FOSS and Grits With Southern Fried Linux

There’s a component to the SouthEast LinuxFest that’s not seen at most other free and open source conferences, as the conference seeks to celebrate not only FOSS, but Southern culture as well.

The SouthEast LinuxFest is the conference that dares to be different. That’s because along with “Linux” and “FOSS,” “hospitality” is always a keyword at SELF, which will get cranked up next Friday, June 10. Hospitality — as in the “bless your heart” version known as “southern hospitality” — is sure to be on full display. That’s a given.

I point this out not for the benefit of good ol’ boy or girl FOSSers who call the Southeast home — ’cause y’all already know — but for those who live outside the area who might not be aware that SELF allows attendees the chance to not only be immersed in the culture of free and open source software, but in the culture of the New South as well.

The folks at SELF like to call this mixture of free tech with southern culture the “Gnu South.” Clever, eh? And to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get some learnin’ about all things southern, the team behind the event always includes some southern fried extras to help you experience some of our culture while you’re here.

Craft Bottle Share: Until this year, the Craft Bottle Share was all about beer, and was a way to blend the sharing aspect of FOSS with beer. As anyone in the U.S. old enough to remember the Carter Administration — aka Fritz and Grits — and the First Brother’s Billy Beer knows, we Southerners love us some beer. In the past our love was of cheap beer, with brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee and Bush ruling the roost. In modern times, however, some of us have upgraded our preferences and have laid the cheap stuff aside, at least when we’re entertaining company, in favor of more eclectic and expensive micro brews.

This year, according the the SELF website, the Craft Bottle Share has been expanded. “[W]e’ll be having more than just beer now. We’ll include a selection of wines and liquor made in the deep south as well.” I can’t speak for other southern states, but I can be a witness to the fact that there are some excellent North Carolina wines. Liquor I’m not so sure about. Does moonshine qualify?

The bottle share starts at 8 p.m. on Friday. The cost of admission? Bring some Southern born and bred adult beverages to share and you’re in, no questions asked — unless you happen to look underage. Speakers, sponsors and volunteers get in free whether they have anything to share or not.

What if you didn’t bring anything to share? Sorry Charlie, but…

Google is sponsoring a pre-party, so at 9 p.m. the doors will open wide for a good ol’ party for everyone. There’ll be another party Saturday night at 9 p.m., sponsored by Linode.

Geeks With Guns: I would’ve called this the Big Bang Theory, but nobody consulted me. Those who sign up for this and pay the $40 fee during registration get to go on a field trip to a firing range where the group will get in some target practice, or as Steppenwolf might put it, they’ll fire all of their guns at once. Bring your own guns and ammo, otherwise rent a gun and buy ammo at the range.

Photography Crawl: This is for those who’d like to soak up a little scenery with their Southern culture, but you’ll have to arrive a day early since it takes place on Thursday. Join the crawl and you’ll be taken to “nice photogenic locations near the hotel. Exact details are TBD, but expect to visit places like the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, Charlotte-Douglas Int’l Airport Overlook Park, Romare Bearden Park, and Freedom Park.”

Fiber Track: That’s fiber as in knitting, not as in optics. I know, knitting isn’t southern per se, but it is an intrinsic part of almost all cultures, so it counts.

It seems that in past SELF’s, ad-hoc knitting groups in the hallways were so popular that this year they have their own track on the schedule. On Friday there will be a field trip to artsy Asheville, perhaps the most beautiful city in the state, for a “yarn crawl.” On Saturday and Sunday there will be classes on knitting in the Linode room, meaning you now have the opportunity to learn something about working with lace or the basics of knitting between sessions on MySQL and security hygiene. How cool is that? See the schedule for more information.

I might also suggest that while you’re in our state that you also have a taste of our local cuisine. Unless you’re a vegetarian, you’ll want to try North Carolina barbecue, which is taken very seriously here. There are two types, Lexington style (which I recommend) and the more vinegary Eastern style. In North Carolina, barbecue is so associated with slow cooked and hickory smoked pork that saying “barbecue pork” would be like saying “pork pork.” Barbecue restaurants are about as easy to find as McDonald’s in North Carolina. Ask someone from the area to point you in the right direction.

You’re also going to want to find a good hot dog shack while you’re in town. Order one “all the way” and it’ll be served “Carolina style,” with mustard, chili, slaw and onions. Most hot dog stands will also fix you a cheeseburger with the same fixin’s, which personally I prefer over the hot dogs. If you go the hot dog route, however, opt for the “foot long” if it’s on the menu. As with barbecue, traditional hot dog and chili burger joints are all over the place throughout the state. Just ask a local for a good one that’s nearby.

Also, see if you can find someone to recommend a place to get some shrimp and grits, a dish that’s not actually local to Charlotte. but is associated with the coastal Lowcountry of the Carolinas and Georgia. That doesn’t keep Carolinians from more inland locales away from the dish however and it’s featured at quite a few Charlotte restaurants. Although traditionally a breakfast dish, these days it’s just as often served as a dinner entree. I’ve never had shrimp and grits in Charlotte, but people tell me that Mert’s on College Street ranks with the best.

As long as you don’t sign up for any extras, such as Friday or Saturday lunch or for Geeks with Guns, admission is absolutely free, but you must register. If you think you might like to attend this year’s SouthEast LinuxFest but need a little convincing, take a look at the schedule. You can also watch the video interview below that was conducted about a month ago by FOSS Force’s Robin Miller with Jeremy Sands, who pretty much runs the show at SELF. That should give you a pretty good feel for the event.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

1 comment to FOSS and Grits With Southern Fried Linux

  • Fred

    Oh, I’d love to go to this. I do wish, however, that LXer had posted this earlier, because I’ve already got other commitments next weekend. :-/