Whew

scale12xDecompression can be a killer. A thousand pardons for taking so long to post about it, but the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 12X was nothing short of fantastic on a variety of levels.

No, that’s not hyperbole.

Lawrence Lessig absolutely nailed it in the Friday night keynote. Don’t take my word for it — watch the keynote on the SCALE 12X site here. Also, Lessig is going to need a little help fixing the government, so if you’re so inclined just send an email to SCALE@lessig.org with a description of the sort of commitment/skills you can offer, and if helpful, a description of your background.

The rest was, frankly, a well-choreographed blur of 90 or so talks over three days, punctuated by two days of exhibits with around 100 exhibitors and whirlwind of volunteers who rhetorically knocked it out of the park.

If you were there and want to relate your experience, go for it in the comments.

The CrunchBang Birds of a Feather meetup went remarkably well, with about 25 attendees coming to hear about Waldorf and with a lively discussion about #! following. Mario Burgos, who had been the sole volunteer to staff a booth that we unfortunately surrendered (it wouldn’t be fair to stick Mario in the booth by himself for the entire show), was incredibly helpful during the course of the BoF by outlining his experiences with CrunchBang. I am hoping I can get some help with a CrunchBang booth at Linux Fest Northwest in April — I will be staffing it and I would welcome any volunteers. Anyone in the Pacific Northwest going?

But back to the “knocking it out of the park” thing, it inspires complete and utter awe how much this show improves every year. It all boils down to one question.

What makes a great show like SCALE 12X?

Everyone: The volunteers, the staff, the speakers, the exhibitors and the sponsors. But most importantly, the attendees tie the ribbon on a fantastic expo, making it the complete and wonderful package it is.

The final tally: There was an uptick of roughly 10 percent in registrations for SCALE 12X, with a new record number of people enjoying three days of presentations, workshops and exhibits.

It was great to see old friends and to meet those I have talked to on numerous occasions but finally got to meet in person: Leslie Hawthorn, whose outstanding keynote was SRO, and Steven Rosenberg of the L.A. Daily News, who gave us a pre-show story in the Daily News’ constellation of Southern California publications.

[Yes, I compared SCALE 12X to the Daytona 500 in that article -- an afterthought that the press picked up (shame on me -- I should know better). But the comparison is a valid one: Like NASCAR holding its biggest race first, so FOSS also holds its most important event at the beginning of the year.]

As the publicity chair, the Publicity Team fired on all cylinders for the entire weekend: Hannah Anderson, who handled social media and floor interview duties as if she was born to do these things, kept everyone informed, and a team of photographers and videographers — Dennis Rex, Michelle Klein-Hass, Sam Is, and Sean McCabe — kept the photos and videos flowing throughout the show.

Graphics: Mike Hamanaka and Josh Adler did a fantastic job in the graphics department — Mike with the signage, badges and stickers, and Josh with the publications and T-shirt design. I got a lot of comments on these during the course of the show and it bears special mention.

Again, I would stress that if anyone has any of their own tales of SCALE 12X they’d like to share, please post them in the comments. As for me, I was stuck marshalling the media forces in the press room for a better part of the show and I got most news second- and third-hand, so some first-hand accounts would be appreciated.

ZaReason at SCALE 12X: As I mentioned previously, ZaReason gave me an UltraLap 440 to review right around the time SCALE 12X was happening, so the laptop got a baptism by fire, sort of, at the show. I am still in the process of giving it a month-long, long-term road test, so to speak, with CrunchBang being one of the distros I’m testing on it. I should point out that at the show, the laptop performed flawlessly as my main machine. More on this will be detailed in an upcoming review.

One more thing
: Some of the more astute CrunchBangers may have noticed my absence in the CrunchBang forums as of late. Much of this had to do with the advent of SCALE 12X, but I seem to have been thrown a curveball in my career over the last few months — without going into much detail but giving more info as not to “vaguebook” — that has made my job as a wire news editor at the newspaper for which I work “obsolete.” The long and short of it is it appears that with trends in the media field being what they are, my 37-year career as a journalist is coming to a close. The flip side is that, under the right conditions and with an astute firm having the wisdom to hire me, my tech career is beginning; all of which is to say that over the past few months I have been seeking a job, which takes away from other activities like being a mod on the forums. The good news for most (or bad news for some) is that this is temporary and I will be back once I get this straightened out.

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Larry the CrunchBang Guy and all other blogs by Larry Cafiero are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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

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Good news/bad news

scale12xOK, I could pun it up here: “I was weighed down by SCALE,” or some other eye-rolling line to explain why I haven’t written for the last couple of weeks. The fact of the matter is that I have been swamped with work on what may end up being the best show yet for the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 12X.

But first, a little news closer to home: A combination of my being unable to get materials together to accommodate the show — more than 2,000 attendees would require a lot of DVDs — as well as a lack of enough volunteers (those who said they’d be willing to pitch in — thanks and we’ll see you at the show) has caused me to pull the table this year. I’d like to be able to have folks there next year, and we’ll pick up, like we did last year, at Linux Fest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington, in April.

So my apologies there.

The good news is the Birds of a Feather meetup is still on. The BoF meetup is still scheduled for Friday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. Because 7 a.m. Pacific (-8) translates to 3 a.m. Saturday morning in England, I am still thinking of some nefarious way of getting Philip Newborough (corenominal) up at 3 a.m. to join us via Google Hangout.

The BoF will introduce folks to CrunchBang and I will have live CDs burned for those who want to give it a shot, as well as my collection of live USB sticks (no, you can’t keep the stick, but I’ll let you run CrunchBang with it, if need be).

The rest of the SCALE 12X show appears to be lining up as one for the ages.

No, that’s not hyperbole. And as scary as this prospect might be, I really need more than one of me to do the press work for SCALE 12X, which starts next week.

I’m going to need a bigger boat.

Why? Lawrence Lessig is coming to speak in the Friday night keynote. That’s right: A Friday night keynote to augment the Saturday morning kenote by Brendan Gregg and the Sunday morning keynote by Leslie Hawthorn. There aren’t three speakers who are better suited for a FOSS gathering than that trio.

That alone doesn’t address the great range of speakers throughout the course of the three days.

So I’ve been a little busy stoking the publicity fires for SCALE this year. You need to come — three days, more than 90 speakers, more than 100 exhibitors. All that equals one great event.

Also, this will be a test show this year as well. ZaReason has sent me an UltraLap 440 and I am going to put it through its paces for the show, writing about it here from time to time. I’ve already replaced Ubuntu 13.10 — what a surprise — on the UltraLap and CrunchBang is one of the distros which is going to be on it while it’s in my possession (until my daughter Mimi purloins the laptop somewhere along the line and installs the latest Linux Mint Cinnamon version, which is her favorite flavor).

[Insert Neil Young joke here: She is my Cinnamon Girl -- I could be happy the rest of my life with a Cinnamon Girl. OK, I was just leaving.]

All of which is to say that while I have sort of been absent last week, expect for me to make up for it going forward with reports from SCALE.

You have been warned.

See you at SCALE 12X.

Creative Commons License
Larry the CrunchBang Guy and all other blogs by Larry Cafiero are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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

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It’s your canvas — paint it

One of the many great things about CrunchBang is that you can get it in any color that you like as long as it’s black. The fact that it comes in only one color may be off-putting to some people, however rather than seeing it as black, you can — say it with me, because I’ve said it a million times — instead see it as a blank canvas to make your screen shot, as well as the rest of your CrunchBang distro, suit your liking.

That may or may not be by design, and only lead developer Philip Newborough knows for sure. Regardless, the flexibility with which you can make CrunchBang your own makes it stand out among other Linux distributions.

So where do you go for a screenshot worthy of your CrunchBang setup?

On a monthly basis for several years now, the CrunchBang forums set up the “$MONTH Screenshot Thread,” and here’s the one for January 2014. You can go further back in Artwork and Screenshots in the forums to find past months. In these topics lie a treasure trove of screenshots that you can use to put on your screen to enhance your CrunchBang experience.

Personally speaking, I have two that I particularly like — one I use regularly and one I break out for the holiday season.

My normal day-to-day screnshot photo is of Mount Shasta, taken by CrunchBanger rstrcogburn, and can be found in the Artwork and Screenshots subject under the Cog’s Corner item here. As you can see, there’s a lot of dark blue in the upper right (and upper left, for that matter) to put a modified Conky.

But around the holidays, it’s a different story. During the Yuletide, I put up this screenshot which originated from CrunchBang user Milozzy. I got his permission to use it and made it my Christmas screenshot.

Interestingly enough, when I show various screenshots to folks when talking about CrunchBang to groups and individuals, Milozzy’s is one of the favorites.

So using what seems to be an almost endless supply of photos and artwork in the forums, you have a wide range of options in going from Basic Black to wherever your artistic soul leads you. You look at your screen for a considerable part of your day — make it something you want to look at.

Or, in other words, it’s your canvas — paint it.

See you next week.

Creative Commons License
Larry the CrunchBang Guy and all other blogs by Larry Cafiero are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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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Playing to your strengths

In the Larry the Free Software Guy blog on Saturday, I wrote an announcement about firming up my writing schedule and adding a couple of blogs. I don’t think it’s a secret that I actually use more than one distro — in order to keep current on things I use several distros because when consulting with small businesses regarding conversion to Linux and FOSS, I have to give them what they need rather than what I want them to have.

So with me at all times are two laptops — overkill, maybe? — with the Toshiba having Korora 20 KDE and the Dell running CrunchBang; a Fedora (or Red Hat, if you want to go that far back) distro and a Debian distro. The ThinkPad T40 stays in the lab for the most part, and that’s another CrunchBang rig, along with the Dell desktops running Debian Wheezy and Fedora 20, and a Sun Ultra 10 box with Solaris 9 (Sun OS 5.9) because, well, I’m sentimental about Solaris.

There are a lot of differences in the two, and that is good. Here’s why. The reason I chose each distro on my ever-present hardware is that Philip Newborough here at CrunchBang and Chris Smart at Korora both understand the importance of playing to a distro’s strengths, making it that much easier for the user.

The differences between the two are staggering: Because the Toshiba has dual-cores and 4GB of RAM (the first time I’ve had a machine this powerful that I could easily carry), it handles KDE very well. What is sometimes challenging and often tests my programming knowledge and skills (if not my patience sometimes) is that there are layers upon layers here to fathom in getting the Toshiba just the way I want it.

To its significant credit, CrunchBang does not have the baggage that comes with having KDE. The term “baggage” might be negative, but what I mean is that there’s a lot that comes with the KDE territory. And that’s by design. From time to time there are posts in the forum asking, “How do I put $DESKTOP_ENVIRONMENT on CrunchBang?” And the simple answer is, “You don’t.” There’s probably no more wider gulf in user interfaces than the one between KDE on one side and Openbox on the other. For CrunchBang, Openbox is a natural — it makes the clean canvas to which you are making your distro masterpiece come alive.

Strength in its simplicity: It’s one of the many facets of CrunchBang that make it a great distro.

Before I forget: CrunchBang will be at the Southern California Linux Expo SCALE 12X next month. Will you? Let me know.

See you next week.

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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