Posted by Chuq
Linux.conf.au 2010, the largest grass-roots Linux conference in the Asia-Pacific, is currently underway in Wellington, New Zealand. My first experience with LCA was last year at the 2009 conference, hosted at the University of Tasmania in Hobart.
Since there are quite a few non-technical people following this blog, I’ll give a bit of a beginners guide. Linux is an alternate operating system - in other words it replaces Windows on a PC. Rather than being written by employees of private companies, It is contributed to by volunteers from all over the world and is available to copy, download and use for free. It is open source software (OSS), meaning that the more technically inclined can modify the code – the license allows this on the condition that changes are released back to the community. As a result of this there are many variations of Linux (known as distributions – Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, etc). One of the more popular distributions is the one that I use - Ubuntu.
Linux.conf.au is an annual conference first held in 1999 (under the name of ‘Conference of Australian Linux Users’) as a gathering for members of the Linux community across Australia to meet up, educate each other, network and have some fun!
So far as the Linux side of things go, I’m not a programmer, database administrator or system administrator so I never really thought I’d get a lot out of it, or most of it would be over my head. Along with the fact that my employment has been based on the Windows side of things so I’d be paying for flights, accommodation and conference registration myself, I’d never really considered attending. When it was announced that Linux.conf.au 2009 would be hosted in Hobart, I thought I’d make the most of it and offer to volunteer!
One of my volunteer roles was filming some of the sessions, and since the sessions were generally chosen for me, I got to see a wide range of sessions that I generally wouldn’t have chosen. They were wide ranging, from the SAMBA team detailing their experiences working together with Microsoft, to Pia Waugh talking about the OLPC XO-1 laptop designed for schools in developing countries, to a Linux powered clarinet. One of the highlights was Jon Oxer and Jared "Flame" Herbohn’s "Geek my Ride" presentation, including the geeking up of their RX-8 and 300ZX respectively.
I also enjoyed meeting up with some fellow Wikimedia Australia members, including Brianna, Liam, Angela and Tim! Angela was one of the keynote speakers and Brianna ran the "Free As In Freedom" mini-conference (which explored issues relating to other free cultural works, not just free software).
And the charity auction at the conference dinner would need an entire blog post to explain – in fact, someone else has already done it for me!
On the day before the conference I met Andrew and Susanne, as well as their 1 year old daughter B, who had come over from Wellington. We had a bit of a chat and got on well. B and G had fun at the Open Day playing on the XO-1 laptops – geeks in training!
On the final day it was announced that Wellington was the host of LCA 2010 and they were the head organisers! From that day I had plans to go to LCA 2010 but sadly due to costs and family commitments it didn’t eventuate. I tried to get my work to pay for me to go, but the fact I deal pretty much exclusively with Windows at work didn’t help. I offered to pay flights/accommodation myself if work would pay for the conference ticket, but there are all sorts of legal cost-splitting issues involved with international travel so it didn’t eventuate. It would have been good to have seen Andrew and Susanne again, especially as we now both have sons around the same age as well!
As they say, there’s always next year!
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