CrunchBang at Linux Fest Northwest

[Warning: This will be a long post. For those of you with limited attention spans, for those of you who are too lazy to read, or for those who can't process more than 140 characters at a time, here's the TL:DR version of this blog item: Linux Fest Northwest was enormously outstanding and awesome (attendance is up, too), the CrunchBang booth was a huge success, the CrunchBang talk was well attended, and I stand by the statement I made to Hacker Public Radio last year: This show is so great, I'd walk to Bellingham from California to attend.]

lfnw-badgeBlame the Econolodge in Bellingham, which should be renamed “the Black Hole of the Internet,” for the complete absence of workable wireless connectability which causes me to compress two fantastic days of FOSS festivities into one blog item written after the fact from the Motel 6 in Salem, Oregon (it should be noted that, unlike the Econolodge, the wireless at both Motel 6 venues we stayed at — in Medford, Oregon, on the way up and here in Salem on the way back — has been quite good).

All of which is to say I apologize for the delay in getting this out.

In short, Linux Fest Northwest nailed it this weekend — the LFNW all-volunteer crew had everything up and running flawlessly in a revamped show area courtesy of some remodeling by Bellingham Technical College that included a auditorium that made for an oustanding expo hall and classrooms with world-class electronics (meaning, of course, my presentation worked with a limited amount of pre-talk tweaking at the outset augmented by prayers to the projector gods).

The normal tsunami of attendees came through the expo floor around 9ish on Saturday, bringing with it the usual hubbub of Linux fest questions, comments and observations. At the CrunchBang booth, media and fliers flew off the table, and folks were trying out the distro on both the old ThinkPad T30 and the newer Toshiba Satellite L455 that were featured on the CrunchBang table. The ebb and flow of humanity — I’m guessing around 1,400 attendees, though LFNW is going to release an official figure soon — rose and fell when sessions were on, but on the whole it was an ideal show for the two days. We ran out of media, fliers and everything by the end of the day on Sunday (OK, I gave the remaining five CrunchBang DVDs to the Greater Seattle LUG, but still).

Some vignettes:

Hey, I know you
: I finally got to meet Benjamin Kerensa, with whom I have shared words — mostly kind but occasionally not-so-kind — in the past. Benjamin and his wife staffed the Mozilla table, and it was great to put a face to the name of a true FOSS advocate with whom I can sometimes disagree without either of us being disagreeable (as it should be). Naturally, I’m looking forward to seeing Benjamin and Mozilla at more shows.

Badges? You need steeenkin’ badges: Most folks would find this trivial, but I thought it was fairly cool. The badges for LFNW were small booklets with the speaker schedule printed inside, along with other important information (like directions to the party on Saturday eve). So at the end of your lanyard, you had the entire fest at your fingertips just by looking “inside” your badge (it should be noted, from a logistical standpoint too, that the names were printed on a sticker and put on the badge). Other shows — SCALE, white courtesy phone — need to look at this because it was very helpful.

Lights, camera, action: For some reason, there tended to be a lot of folks there to do media-type work. Hacker Public Radio was there, as usual, doing interviews (of which I was one — thanks!) and Jupiter Broadcasting had the Linux Action Show broadcasting live from their booth on Saturday — it would be interesting to see their take on the show later. Slashdot had an interviewer as well as some independents (e.g., people with video cameras posting independently to YouTube) interviewing folks, and of course I’ve never shied away from a microphone or a camera before. So there are some items of me talking about CrunchBang out there.

15943044This is us: The CrunchBang booth was an unqualified success in large part from the help I got from xor axiom, whom many of you on the CrunchBang forums know (but whose real name is Eric Bortel). About 100 pieces of media were distributed, with the same amount of fliers accompanying them. Last year, we got a lot of “What’s CrunchBang?” This year, there was more “I’ve used CrunchBang before . . . ” so the distro is becoming more well-known. The presentation itself on Sunday morning had about 30 people in attendance and, as the aforementioned new equipment in the classroom helping out, the presentation went off without a hitch.

Sunday’s broadcast: Since Jupiter Broadcasting left the building on Sunday, I decided to crank up one of my favorite Linux podcasts — Linux Outlaws — on the Toshiba to show that, yes, CrunchBang can broadcast with the best of ‘em. So on the relatively solid backbone of the Bellingham Technical College’s network, Dan Lynch and Fabian “Go Penguins!” Scherschel were in the house for Linux Fest Northwest.

Does this joke make me look stupid? OK, maybe it was the delivery or maybe it’s a generational thing. At the end of my presentation I made a point, as I usually do, to say what a great show LFNW is and to thank the volunteers when encountering them for making the show work. The LFNW volunteer staff wears red shirts (you know where I’m going with this). After I asked folks to thank the volunteers, I added ” . . . and urge them not to go down to the planet surface.” Cue crickets chirping. So maybe I won’t be here all week, but still remember to tip your waitress . . .

There is more to follow, but I have to hit the road.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research (RDR), a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment. RDR is based in Felton, California, USA.

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North by (Linux Fest) Northwest

lfnw-badgeToward the end of this week — well, Thursday to be exact — I’ll be loading up the car with a few laptops, about 100 pieces of CrunchBang media (DVDs, not CDs), a paper #! banner, my daughter and her equipment and we’ll head north to Linux Fest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington on April 27-28.

The question now is whether I can get to Corvallis, Oregon, in a day and maybe stop in to visit Lance Albertson and the folks at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab on Friday morning . . . .

15943044As for CrunchBang’s presence at LinuxFest Northwest, we’ll have a booth and I’ll have help staffing the booth (if it’s not too much of an embarrassment to him, a big “thanks” goes out to xoraxiom, a CrunchBanger who’ll also be attending LFNW, and he gets recognition here for help in the booth). We also have a Birds of a Feather gathering scheduled for Saturday afternoon — note to corenominal, it’s 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time, so if you’re around on Saturday around 9:30 your time and we can ping you, your presence is requested — and I speak on Sunday at 11 a.m. on “Intro to CrunchBang.”

Last year, flying the CrunchBang flag was quite successful, as I noted here. Many were surprised that we had a booth, some had never heard of CrunchBang (heresy!) and others were glad to see us there. We even got a couple of new users who tried CrunchBang and liked it. Now if I can get another interview on Hacker Public Radio, we’ll be all set.

Watch this space — updates as they develop.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research (RDR), a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment. RDR is based in Felton, California, USA.

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It’s showtime

As you read this — or as least, as I write this — the O’Reilly Open Source Conference, more commonly known as OSCON, is getting started in Portland, Oregon, and will be open for the better part of the week. OSCON is the largest Linux/Open Source conference in North America — though not the best (that still goes to the Southern California Linux Expo, or SCALE) — and if you’re within driving distance of Portland, you should take the time to go to OSCON this week.

I won’t be at OSCON this week representing CrunchBang for a couple of reasons: a.) I have news colleagues covering the Olympics in London and, with the staff being hacked down to bare bones on the news desk, I have to stay here, and b.) because OSCON leans more toward the corporate and less toward the hackers, the spaces for the “dot-org” section were cut, and they were filled very early, leaving folks like Fedora and Ubuntu scrambling for space when they were passed over in the first round of “dot-org” choices. No doubt that’s been settled by corporate masters up a few rungs on the Red Hat and Canonical ladders respectively. But the chances are that we would have probably been shut out of booth space this year. But next year . . .

However, if you’re in the Southwest — Texas or thereabouts — you might want to check out Texas Linux Fest in San Antonio on Aug. 3-4. Again, I’ll be trapped at my desk and won’t be attending, but TXLF is a growing show that is gaining popularity, and if you’re in the area, you should take the time to go.

The reason I bring these shows up is that I think everyone who is near one — by “near” I mean within either driving or bus/train distance over the course of, say, a day’s travel — should go. You learn a lot at the sessions, you get to see vendors who, more times than not, give you more swag than you can carry (for example, I have not bought a T-shirt since 2006: True story) and, of course, you get to meet and talk to other Linux users about about FOSS programs and distros — especially CrunchBang — if the topic is raised.

I don’t know what’s going on in Europe — FOSDEM has passed if I understand correctly, and I know there are other shows there during the course of the year — but I have heard rumor (or rumour, since it’s happening in the UK) that our own Philip Newborough has been coerced into attending OggCamp in Liverpool sometime next month (and presenting, maybe?).

Other than talking to LUGs about CrunchBang for the rest of the year, I think my schedule for expos and shows this year is done. I don’t fly — my arms get tired — and so I’m going to have to miss shows later in the year, like Ohio Linux Fest, but we’ll have a booth at SCALE and Linux Fest Northwest next year. If you’re in the area and want to work the CrunchBang booth in Los Angeles or Bellingham, Washington (north of Seattle), let me know.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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