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February 1st, 2017

NCSU Hosts One-Day Introduction to Open Source

Open Source 101 is an all day world-class introduction to open source for only $10 — and the price includes lunch. Where’s the profit in that?

students open source 101

It’s something of a grand experiment and it’s being being hosted this weekend on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. What it is might be called a miniconference, but let’s not call it that. “Mini” indicates smallness, and there’s nothing small about this event, even if it is only a single day affair.

Let’s call it a full fledged conference. The students attending will like that. It’ll make them feel important and so grown-up — which they are, actually. They’ll be able to feign weariness as they roll their eyes and tell friends they can’t meetup at the pizza pallor on Saturday because “I”m attending a conference.” Their friends will be secretly impressed, but won’t let on and will act like that’s the most natural thing in the world.

The event is called Open Source 101.

I don’t know how it is now, but when I was going to school, the numbers “101” in the name of any class meant “Introduction to…” English 101 meant “Introduction to English.” American History 101 meant “Introduction American history.” It said so right in the catalog.

That’s what Open Source 101 is: an introduction to open source software — and hardware too.

The conference is taking place on the NCSU campus, at The McKimmon Center, and is being presented by the All Things Open organization, the same folks who, out of the gate, turned the All Things Open conference into one of the two most important enterprise open source conferences in the United States.

I don’t know where Todd Lewis, the Grand High Decider of Everything at ATO (I’m kidding, he’s actually a great guy), got the idea for this, but I do know he deserves credit for giving it the nod. Maybe he thought of it himself, but I suspect somebody at Red Hat, ground zero for open source in Raleigh, ran it by him. Or perhaps the idea came from his old friends at iT-oLogy, the organization that until last year hosted ATO, as putting technology and education together is their forte. Maybe it was Rikki Endsley at Red Hat’s community website, Opensource.com, which is ATO’s partner for this event. Whomever it was, I think the idea is pure genus.

The conference is aimed at tech students, and there’s no shortage of tech students at NCSU, the campus that pretty much gave birth to Red Hat. The cost is low, only $10 — which basically pays for the lunch that’s included in the deal. You don’t want college students wandering off to the food court for lunch on a Saturday. They won’t be back.

Although the event is aimed at college kids, the organizers are clear that it’s open to all “current and future technologists” — or anybody else, for that matter. If you live in Raleigh and have a high school kid who’s a whiz with Linux, buy the kid a ticket and send him over. Will high school kids be in over their heads? Most likely. But any kid who’s been able to learn their way around Linux on their own…I’m betting they’ll catch on.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but if I were a tech student living near Raleigh, I wouldn’t miss this opportunity for anything, because open source is no longer the way of the future, but the way of now. According to the most recent Blackduck/North Bridge annual Future of Open Source survey:

67% of companies actively encourage developers to engage in and contribute to open source projects

65% of companies are contributing to open source projects

65% leverage open source software to speed application development

55% leverage open source software for production infrastructure

And so it goes.

I’m not going to bore you with a list of the sessions that’ll be offered, because you can see them yourself online. I will tell you, however, that top technology companies will be represented, including Red Hat, Capital One, GitHub, IBM, SAS, Sparkfun Electronics, Mesosphere, Elastic, The Linux Foundation, cPanel, Progress, Basho, Cloudbees, and others.

Oh, if you go, make sure to check out Sparkfun. They’re always…well, spark fun.

I think that as soon as the conference ends, All Things Open and Opensource.com should take it on the road. Load it in the back of a gypsy wagon, like a travelling medicine show. Stop at every university town and raise the tent for the edification and amazement of computer science students. Here in North Carolina, where FOSS Force is headquartered, I’m sure the students at A&T in Greensboro could benefit, as could students at Winston-Salem State University. I’m sure there’s a college or university near you that could use a dose of Open Source 101.

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

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