We’ve just finished up the inaugural Indiana Linux Festival this past weekend, held at the Wyndham airport down in Indianapolis, and for a first Linux conf, I think this was a success overall.
This was my first experience as an Event Owner, responsible for organizing Fedora’s presence at the show, and I learned a fair amount. I’ve organized multi-day conferences and workshops before in my $DAYJOB, but the organizational culture and set of norms is different in every community, so there are always things to learn.
Ben Williams from Virginia Tech and I were the Ambassadors responsible for the Fedora Booth at ILF this year, and I was very pleased and thankful to have Ben’s presence this year, since it has been about 18 months since I last worked a Fedora booth at the Ohio Linux Fest 2009. Ben arrived Thursday night, and I drove down from South Bend Friday morning.
First off, I continue to be impressed with the help that the Fedora Ambassador team has for these events. I was able to request both the Fedora Event banners and one of the four North American EventBoxen easily with a TRAC request, both shipped to my home via UPS. The EventBox holds all the essentials that an Ambassador needs for a Fedora booth at a conference:
- OLPC XO-1 and HP netbook with Sugar and Fedora 14, respectively
- lots of the latest release media, in 32-bit DVD, 64-bit DVD, and 32-bit Live CDs
- t-shirts to give away
- pens and pins
- temporary tattoos, case badges, stickers, and the new windows keyboard button sticker
We did find that we needed to add a multi-outlet surge protector aka “FriendFinder” and a pair of scissors, which Ben and I procured Friday at good ole K-Mart. We also updated the HP mini to have the latest Fedora 14 install on it, replacing some of the live-bootable images on the netbook. Friday was also an InstallFest day, so we headed in to the Wyndham after returning from Wal-Mart and met Dru Lavigne, the new Community Manager for BSD-PC, based out of Ottawa, Canada. It was nice to meet another distro community manager, and we swapped details on the state of hardware driver support in BDS-PC and Fedora a bit. We had one chap, Tom, visit us and ask to get some help on installing Fedora on his older Windows XP PC. Tom, a adjunct faculty member at the local Ivy Tech community college, brought back the deskside unit with two LCD monitors shortly before we were to close up the InstallFest room for the day, and so we moved to the vendor exhibit area and commandeered a table to get Tom started. Booting off a USB stick with Fedora 14 64-bit, we ran into a bit of weirdness when Fedora installed the bootloader on sda1 (as expected), but which was actually on the USB stick and not the internal drive. We backed out of that and I headed up to our hotel room to grab a F14 64-bit DVD, which did the trick. Tom took copious notes while Ben was installing F14 in a dual-boot setup so he could retain his Windows XP partition. Tom left happy and enthusiastic about making the switch to free software as his spring schedule permitted. Success!
Saturday was the main conference day, and Ben and I headed down to the vendor exhibit area around 7:30 am to set the booth up. We were a bit groggy, as we’d been up until midnight watching the VCU-Florida State Men’s NCAA game, which resulted in a thrilling win for VCU, heading to its first NCAA final four! I’m usually a breakfast person, but this morning I was fine with a Starbuck’s from the hotel and an apple I’d brought along with me. The Fedora banners set up easily, although I was a bit vertically challenged to hook them at the top of the banner pole; I’ll need to use a chair if I ever have to set these up myself! We were able to negotiate a different table than the organizers had originally assigned us to so that we were less squeezed in and the banners wouldn’t block traffic flow in the room. We ended up next to the good folks from <a href="http://dualcoremusic.com/nerdcore/"Dual Core, in from Cincinnati, and who were going to perform at the after party Saturday night. Some of the other sponsors at the fest included Cloud.com, where we met Fedora Board member David Nalley who had some pretty cool CBGBs-inspired t-shirts, the good folks from Ohio Linux Fest, which was the inspiration for ILF, BeagleBoard, BSD-PC, the husband and wife team from Linux in the Ham Shack, who did some interviews at the Fest, as well as some local IT consulting firms. It was also great to see Brian Pepple, who drove over from Columbus for ILF. Brian, a former Fedora Engineering Steering Committee chair and active Gnome contributor and packager is an old friend from OLF and Ben and I joined him for lunch on Saturday to catch up on news, Fedora and otherwise.
The crowd at ILF was about what one expects at a Linux festival, the majority of the crowd is 18-25, with a significant 40+ demographic as well. There were 250 pre-registrants for ILF, which is a good number for a first year conf. We handed out plenty of media, trying to get these in the hands of users before Fedora 15’s mid-May release date that is steadily approaching. There are always a few families that also come together, and the kids always gravitate to the OLPC XO to explore that. We face theis and the netbook out to the crowd with the webcam turned on, which always draws people in, and they continue to be amazed that Fedora-based Sugar runs the XOs.
Fedora has an excellent reputation for supporting the Linux community, and many people remarked to us at the booth that Fedora seems to “be everywhere” at Linux conferences nationwide. Indeed, we do try to have a presence at as many events as we are able. There was a Indiana Ubuntu community booth across from us at the meeting, but it was unmanned, with media on the table and a couple issues of Ubuntu Magazine. Attendees appreciate having people at a booth who can answer questions and help troubleshoot issues they may be having.
After a full day on the exhibit floor, we packed up the banners and the EventBox, now much lighter than we brought it in at. Overall a great linux festival. The hotel was nice, with generally good free wireless, a great location that was easy to get to, and a good community that came out to participate in the very good series of talks and birds of a feather events around the meeting.