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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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