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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Linux Fest Northwest makes its mark

Those of us who have been to Linux shows, or especially have worked Linux shows, in the past know the drill. It’s something out of “Field of Dreams.” If you build it — the “it” here being a Linux event — they will come, and they will all seem to come right at Saturday morning at 9 sharp when the show officially starts.

They did just that at Linux Fest Northwest. Past its first decade of operation, LFNW has established itself as the premiere Linux event in the region and, as I’ve mentioned before, next to the Southern California Linux Expo, it’s the best show on the West Coast. For two days, geeks in the Northwest get to listen to top-notch presenters — as well as people like me — and visit exhibits from distros, software and hardware makers.

The Bellingham Linux Users Group and volunteers from other open source user groups in the area never fail to put on a great expo, and I think I speak for many attendees when I say that I’m deeply grateful for their efforts. About 1,200 people attended LFNW on the campus of Bellingham Technical College over the weekend. Thanks, LFNW folks.

Here’s a look at the weekend:

Not another distro . . .: Bill Smith and his wife Portia staffed the CrunchBang booth with me, and again my thanks go out to them for the help. Visitors to the booth ranged from those who knew what CrunchBang was to those who whined, “Not another distro . . .” To which I replied far too often, “Yes, another distro. This one is Debian with the OpenBox window manager,” before explaining the advantages of CrunchBang. “There’s a digital Darwinism at play here, with the good distros gathering a strong community and thriving, and others . . . not so much.” There were about 150 pieces of media burned — CDs and DVDs — all of which went out the door with prospective users. I, of course, will sit in the corner with the pointy hat because, truth be told, I forgot the banner and the “success kid” stickers made up for LFNW, but we’ll use ‘em next year.

Hello, I’m Greg DeKoenigsberg: The printed program had it right, as did the Web site. But the large poster on the wall on the Haskell classroom building on Saturday morning had Greg’s presentation on the schedule where I was giving the Intro to CrunchBang talk. With LFNW’s permission, Greg and I had switched presentation times more than a week prior to the event, since he was getting in late. But the poster outside the wall had the old schedule. Try as I might — which, of course, was not very hard — I could not convince the folks that I was the Eucalyptus VP. After an announcement that if you were there for Greg’s talk, it would be tomorrow, only a couple of people bailed out. As for my talk, it went as well as my talks usually go — no one was injured and law enforcement officials were nowhere to be found — and Scott Dowdle videotaped it, so as soon as that gets posted, I’ll let you know.

The (two) big thing(s): The big thing at Linux Fest Northwest — not including OpenSUSE rep Bryen Yunashko’s hat — was the Pogo Linux’s booth, which featured a full-fledged, sit-behind-the-wheel racing game with three large-screen monitors, where drivers navigated a course and prizes were given for the fastest laps. No, my racing days are far behind me, but from what I was told by someone who raced cars and turned the second fastest lap on Saturday, it was very realistic. Another big thing — bigger to the Android crowd, apparently, and arguably just as fast as the racing game — was the ZaReason tablet, which many folks tried out at our booth (ZaReason shared the CrunchBang booth at LFNW). Keep an eye on that, since this full-fledged Android tablet will be coming out very soon.

Hands across the water: It was a grand experiment, though operator error by yours truly may have kept it from being a huge success. But during the CrunchBang Birds of a Feather meetup on Sunday morning, we used a Google+ Hangout to raise CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough. Sort of. Despite getting dropped a couple of times — once because I hit the wrong key — we got to talk about the show, about what’s coming up for CrunchBang and things along those lines, and it was very informative for those in attendance. Thanks, Philip, and Rebecca Newborough as well, who in her capacity as the CrunchBang Community Leader also participated from the Lincoln side of things.

Bon mots: I’m still apologizing to Deb Nicholson for forgetting her surname in introducing her to Philip Newborough at the BoF on Sunday morning. You know you work with someone in FOSS circles for years and something like this happens . . . . A shout-out goes to Eric Craw, a new CrunchBang user from Washington who converted at Linux Fest Northwest. Not only did he start using CrunchBang, but he already started contributing code back to the project, showing that this is what FOSS is all about . . . . David Whitman of Hacker Public Radio gave me a few minutes of interview time at the end of Linux Fest Northwest, so all that thumping and loading in the background may or may not be audible once the interview is broadcast . . . . I drove 962 miles each way to attend LFNW, but this show is so great that I would have walked 962 miles to get to Bellingham. Again, kudos to the LFNW crew.

Start rumors: In my capacity as publicity chair for the Southern California Linux Expo, I finally got to sit down with my good friends Warren Sanders and Scott Dowdle, and two folks from the Big Sky Country that I hadn’t met — Rocky Mountain College’s Andrew Niemantsverdreit and Gary Bummer, who is Scott’s colleague at Montana State University — and the five of us discussed bringing an event to their area. So be on the lookout for Montana Linux Fest, or something like it, in 2013.

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(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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