Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My First Linux Fest: SELF (Southeast Linux Fest)

I spent the weeks before SELF making sure I had ordered the appropriate number of conference packs for the estimated 400+ people expected to attend. Then I made sure there were tables for both Southeast Ubuntu LoCo's and the Ubuntu Podcast guys (not sure they needed any assistance but I double checked on their space too. (it's my OCD I think :-D!)). Then I tried to touch base to see who was going to be there to help work the booth so I could at least see the kernel session and lead 2 BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions. Needless to say I was a nervous wreck.

Pete was invited to the speaker's dinner the night before and he emailed the organizers to ask if I could come. I could and I was so excited! Of course in my nervous chatter what I wanted to say and what came out my mouth were two different things. I was welcomed by the SELF folks and they said jokingly that I could hang out with the geeks - and I was trying to express that I really didn't care about how the kernel works, I just like using it (which is really paraphrasing a quote by Linus Torvalds that states "There are lots of Linux users who don't care how the kernel works, but only want to use it. That is a tribute to how good Linux is." However, it came out more like "I don't care about the kernel", which isn't really true. I mean I understand the significance of it and the reason it is important and I am in awe of how the kernel and all the various, pieces, parts, and packages that go together in order to have the various Linux distros. So in short do I want to hack kernel code "nope", do I love using a Linux distro in the form of Ubuntu "Yes"!

So back to SELF, a week or so before the event there had been some healthy banter back and forth with Josh, one of the Ubuntu Podcast crew members, and a toast at the pre-party was in order. After a heartfelt thanks to Nick and Josh for being such great ambassadors to the Ubuntu community and being very helpful and welcoming to me, a shot a Patrón was imbibed upon. I think it went well. (I enjoy the Ubuntu Podcasts. If you haven't had a chance to take a few moments out of your day and listen or watch the casts, try and find a moment or two.:-D! )

I met so many people at the pre-party. Beth Lynn Eicher, from the Ohio Linux Fest was there, and she is great! Very informative, strong, helpful, and encouraging. The lessons I took away from her need their own Blog. Wow! Can't wait to hit OLF and see those folks again.

Mackenzie Morgan and Daniel Chen were there as well. It was great hearing Daniel speak just two days before about Audio in Linux at the TriLUG meeting in RDU. I thought it was awesome to meet the people I speak to in the #ubuntu channels and put faces, names, nicks, and locations together.

I am sure there are a few others I am leaving out from the pre-party like Jeremy Sands (thanks for not holding the nervous misstatement against me and Kevin Jones, who really encouraged my participation, and so many others. "If this was the pre-party what would the next day hold," I wondered?

I got up at 6am to be at the Hendrix Student Center in Clemson, SC, by 8am on Saturday, June 13, 2009 to attend, work, and present 2 BoF's at my very First Linux Fest *EVER*.

Got there and thanks to Zack Gibbens (TN LoCo), and Dewey Hylton, (NC LoCo) they helped me set up the table, and I got everything in place. I was happy and ready to go. Zach helped work the booth while I said hello to the other vendors, listened to the kernel talk and lead the two BoF sessions.

The Fedora Guys were a riot! I was trying on convince them to go sit at the Ubuntu Booth while I sat at theirs for one photo. They said I could sit at theirs...it was all in good fun (no pics were taken this time). Of course we talked a little about Fedora 11 and Ubuntu's Jaunty. Someone even made them cookies to give out that had little blue candy covered chocolate pieces in them. They also had Fedora tattoos to give out, that was cool too. I got some pointers from them as well.

Talked to the openSUSE folks as well. It was nice saying "hi" to Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, and discussed some of his articles, The Community Leadership Summit and Jono Bacon's new book, The Art of Community.

Also, Elizabeth Krumbach, with the Ubuntu PA LoCo and Ubuntu Women Teams were there as well. She continues to a source of help and encouragement as well. Mark Cox from the NC LoCo, like I said there were just so many wonderful people and so much to take in and learn that the the list goes on and on and on...:-)

The BoF sessions were "Why not You?" about encouraging others who say, "I can't do F/LOSS" How do you get them to ask "why not" instead of "why?". There really is a place for everyone who wants to be involved with the project. The second was going to be an FAQ about Ubuntu LoCo's but since it was all Ubuntu LoCo people there we really talked about extending the personal participation into the community realm. I didn't think about the two sessions flowing into one as well as they did. I guess I was just nervous. Both sessions need refinement but I didn't think it was so bad for my first fest and my first BoF's. I just want to try all these new and exciting things and get involved.

I am sure I am leaving people out and I am not meaning to. There are some other groups like click2try and The LinuxLink TechShow I will post under separate entries.

I hope that gives you an idea of how cool I thought my 1st Linux Fest ever was.
More to follow...