LinuxFest Northwest 2011 Report
The end of April... is LinuxFest Northwest time. This was my 5th year attending and it was their 11th annual conference. As usual, I took my camcorder along and recorded all of the presentations I attended. Oddly no one from the BozemanLUG nor the BillingsLUG were able / interested in going with me so I was all by myself. I don't drive very much since I have been riding the bus too and from work for the past 4.5 years... so this was my first road trip in a while where I was doing all of the driving. I made it there and back in one piece so I guess I did ok. Thanks goes to my father-in-law for lending me his tricked out 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis for the trip as my wife really didn't want me to take our minivan. I owned a 1976 Mercury Marquis back in high school and that thing was a boat. The '96 was a dream to drive.
The venue was the same and the portion of Bellingham Technical College used for the show hasn't changed much although I'm not sure if the DMC building was used in the past or not. If so, I guess it is just for stuff I was less interested in because I didn't make it there this year either.
Exhibits and Vendors
The exhibit area was in Building G as usual. The list of exhibitors had many of the usual suspects... although ModWest out of Missoula had a booth... and donated a Bruce Schneier action figure with accessories as a raffle prize. I didn't spend a whole of time in the exhibit area this year... as it was just so darn crowded. I have no idea what the attendance figures were but man, was it crowded at times.
I bought myself a blue LFNW 2011 XXL tee-shirt for $15. I didn't see much in the way of tee-shirts being given away but on Sunday I hit the impressive openSUSE booth and bought one of their shirts (no XXLs left so I got an XL) for $5 and got a complimentary stuffed penguin. SWAG wasn't too bad this year especially if you wanted some magazines, ink pens, stickers, or Linux live / install media.
Here's the exhibitor list:
Amazon Web Services, BitPusher, Brown Paper Tickets, BTC Bookstore, BTC LinuxFest Network Team, Candela Technologies, Cloud.com, EFF, Everett LUG, FSF, Greater Seattle LUG, HackerPublicRadio.org, LibreOffice, Linux Fund, LOPSA, ModWest, NortWest Innovation Resource Center, OpenStreetMap, OpenSUSE, Oracle Technology Group, Pogo Linux, Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington, TAPCUG Linux SIG, The Fedora Project, The FreeBSD Project (PC-BSD), The Next Generation I.T. Club, Ubuntu WA LoCo, USENIX Association, Vancouver LUG, Whatcom Association of Celestial Observers, World Famous Raffle, Yard Sale, and ZaReason.
The ZaReason folks had some pretty sweet laptops on display.
Sessions / Presentations
As usual, the vast majority of presentations where held in Haskell Center. There were five 55 minute time slots with about nine concurrent presentations per slot running on Saturday. Sunday had four 55 minute time slots with about eleven concurrent presentations. That is a LOT of presentations where you can only see a fraction of the content. Why so many? I think it has a bit to do with the venue being a school with plenty of classrooms and but not so many larger rooms. If the venue had several really large rooms, I'm sure there would be less presentations with more attendees per presentation. Most of the presentations I went to were well attended.
Unfortunately they don't have the ability to record and post videos of all of the presentations... so people like me are left to record them on their own. It is something I enjoy doing and I wish there were more folks like me. I made sure to ask for permission from every presenter.
There were a few last-minute cancellations and / or fill-ins. For example, Larry Cafiero from The Fedora Project couldn't make it so Adam Williamson filled in for him on one presentation while Larry's second presentation was simply dropped. Major Linux mainline kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman was scheduled to do a talk entitled, Write, and Submit, your first Linux kernel patch but due to unavoidable family health issues he had to cancel. He does hope to make it next year though. Anand Avati from Gluster had to cancel his presentation entitled, Virtual Storage for Linux Environments although I'm not sure why. There were a couple of additional cancellations but with so much content, the negative impact was minimal.
I attended 8.5 presentations and recorded 8 of them. I forgot a piece of my tripod, went back to the hotel to get it and was late for the first Saturday presentation. Check out the videos of the ones I did record.
|Crash Course in Open Source Cloud Computing by Mark Hinkle||148.8 MB|
|Understanding FOSS Licensing & Legal Lessons learned from Fedora, by Tom (spot) Callaway||152.1 MB|
|What's New in Fedora (15) by Adam Williamson||141.9 MB|
|GNOME 3, What to expect with the next generation user friendly desktop by Sriram Ramkrishna||139.0 MB|
|Linux Native Containers (LXC) by Tom Eastep||117.8 MB|
|Linux-Vservers - One hunk of hardware, loads of servers by Rod Anderson||132.5 MB|
|Rethinking infrastructure: Putting the System back into Systems Administration by Brett Lentz||155.3 MB|
|With Software As A Service, Is Only The Network Luddite Free? by Bradley Kuhn||144.4 MB|
Luckily I didn't see too many presenters using Windows on their laptops but there were still a few Mac users. I think people should use Linux to present at a Linux show but I think I might be in the minority.
Being a somewhat experienced user, I was somewhat disappointed with the technical depth of one or two of the presentations I attended but that was more than made up for by other presentations where I had an opportunity to ask questions of and interact with some fairly high profile community members both from the FOSS community (Bradley Kuhn and Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier for example) and The Fedora Project (Tom "spot" Callaway, Adam Williamson, and Jesse Keating among others). I think the interaction with project and community members is really something that shines at LFNW!
The Linux Action Show guys had one room all day and did several presentations / shows. I'm not too big of a LAS fan because I'm a Fedora fanboy and they have been quite harsh in their last few Fedora reviews... overly harsh. This year I did catch their review of Ubuntu 11.04 and they were overly harsh on it too. They are just a bit too negative for me at times... although I'll admit that I do occasionally watch their video show. They did their another Why Linux Sucks (third annual) which I assume will be available online real soon now if not already. Anyone have the URL for that?
The weather on Saturday was a bit cloudy with a few rain sprinkles here and there. Sunday was very sunny, warm and pleasant... which supposedly worked against people showing up as I heard one person comment, although I'm sure they were exaggerating, that that was the first really nice day in two years.
The LFNW web site allows attendees to sign up for an account, create a user profile, and then create a schedule for the presentations they plan to attend. Tom Eastep said he was perplexed by the fact that his Sunday after lunch presentation on Linux Native Containers showed over 20 attendees on the web site but only half that actually showed up. Chalk that up to the weather being too good. :) I attended all of the presentations I signed up for.
Of course what would a LFNW conference be without the raffle? It is a free show after all... so they need to raise money for the programs, posters, tee-shirts, and the excellent Saturday night party. The prizes on display were of the usual sort. Books, magazine subscriptions, licenses to a few commercial tools (Komodo IDE and CodeWeaver's Crossover products), tee-shirts, bags, USB thumbdrives, a wireless access point... the previously mentioned Bruce Schneier action figure with accessories. One of the several prizes that caught my eye was the complete collection of Drupal training videos on DVD from Lullabot. There were also some expensive packages for USENIX and LISA, both pay shows. The bigger ticket items were a Motorola Xoom android tablet and a uber desktop workstation from the Pogo Linux folks. I bought $20 worth of tickets... $10 in the morning and $10 around lunchtime... and darn my luck, I didn't win anything yet another year. I'll keep trying though.
There were soooo many people in the room during the raffle and it went on for over an hour. It seemed as if the room was running out of oxygen and getting a bit hot. I exaggerate but you get my point. I'm not a crowd person and the raffle was crowded.
Saturday Night Party
I stayed at the Hampton Inn and as luck would have it, the Saturday Night Party was in Hampton Inn's Fox Hall. It ran from 6PM until Midnight. I hit it about 6:30-8 at which point I headed back to the room. There was free food (pizza, Swedish meatballs, chicken kabobs, veggies) and snacks (cookies and brownies)... and later... a few home-micro-brews. Everything was free. On the tables they had their customary two bowls... one with Cheetos and the other with M&Ms.
There was quite a bit of gaming going on too. They had a Nintendo Wii set up at one end of the room and folks were playing some Wii games... Super Mario Bros. Wii and Mario Party just to name two.
At the opposing end of the room was some system (an Xbox 360?) running Rock Band 3... with a few folks jamming out to some rock tunes.
At the tables there were a few folks playing the board game Settlers of Catan. I was sitting at one of the Catan tables for a while but I just watched. There was quite a bit of strategy going on there.
Fox Hall is quite large and the turn out for the party was very good. I didn't notice any empty tables in the room... and once the beer arrived the line ran long for some time as a few people would get a glass of beer and then walk right back to the end of the line.
This report is a lot like previous LFNW reports... and that is a good thing. I'd guess that the attendance this year was larger than last year... but I don't know how it stands with regards to other years. The gender mix seemed closer to even than ever before with plenty of females in attendance. I think there were more presentation cancellations (and I was really looking forward to Greg Kroah-Hartman) this year though... but overall nothing really to complain about. I mean, it's a free show and people put in a lot of work just to make it happen. I applaud them. Keep up the good work... it is appreciated. I'd also recommend continuing to keep it a free conference and the BTC is a great venue too.
There was one very pushy yet somewhat humorous guy demanding attendees take a paper survey. I filled one out. I hope they post the results of the survey publicly although given the fact that they were paper with hand written answers, I don't envy whoever has to process them.
See you there next year I hope!
Oh, and check out this dude's license plate...