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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Graduation day

Earlier today, I posted a comment on the Introductions part of the forum on an introduction by a U.S. user named Diplo where, to my credit (I say, as I pat myself on the back), I resisted the temptation to go into full-lecture mode on the topic of whether “someone in the community can comment on the benefits of choosing CrunchBang, and even offer some advice or links to a newbie.”

I replied to Diplo on the forum itself, but I kept thinking about my response throughout the course of the day and what it means to be a Linux user; not just a Linux user, using a “mainstream” distribution — a concept that may have been unheard of 10 years ago — but a user of a unique, quality distro like CrunchBang.

Those of us non-developers and non-programmers who use CrunchBang on a daily basis by and large “graduated” to it after taking baby steps and using training wheels on another distro. Living digital lives around a desktop environment until we changed, it’s a step up to start using a window manager like Openbox, just as it’s an improvement to get comfortable with the command line instead of depending on GUI-based programs (though, as you know, I am always talking about using the GUI-based solutions in the forums, if they exist — I know that’s not very “leet,” but the folks who put the GUI-based solutions together deserve a nod and our thanks).

One thing I didn’t fully outline in the response to Diplo is that there is a wholeness or holistic — forgive me if the Californian is coming out — nature to CrunchBang where the cycle of an outstanding distro following a helpful community following a well-stocked forum leading back to the outstanding distro is complete. These items — an informed helpful community collecting a wide range of knowledge over time on a distro made by an outstanding lead developer — all together in the mix are essentially what makes CrunchBang great.

So it’s quite heartening to see those who are curious enough to see their hardware as a tool, not as a toy, and want to use the best tool for the job, so to speak, joining our ranks, knowing that many will stick around and become productive members of a growing CrunchBang community.

(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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