[Ambassadors] Linux Fest Northwest

Jesse Keating jkeating at redhat.com
Thu May 1 21:31:24 UTC 2008

Ah, the smell of the salty air; the crystal clear sky over a beautiful
skyline; the busses quietly humming by on their electric powered motors;
Starbucks on just about every corner; Seattle, I have arrived.

I love this city, I really do.  The people, the scenes, the ocean, the
sushi, I just can't get enough of it.  I spent a couple days getting
back together with my friends from the area; developers, system
builders, IT admins, etc...  We talk shop, family, weather, and take in
a Mariners game at the wonderful Safeco Field.  I'm reluctant to leave,
but trek north we must for Linux Fest Northwest.

In Bellingham we arrive, somewhat late at night.  Driving through the
downtown area we spot a large banner hanging across the street
advertising the Fest.  Times have certainly changed.  It's certainly fun
to see the influx of geeks mesh with the biker bars and the college
crowd.  At the hotel you can tell it's fest time.  Lobby filled with
geeks: laptops, ham radios, smarmy t-shirts abound; excited
conversations about kernels and desktops, and rpms, and debs, and who's
going to win Alpha Geek this year.  Snickering comments about whether or
not the hotel wireless will withstand the abuse a hotel full of Linux
geeks can throw at it, and a bemused rueful grin is the only answer one
gets from the hotel staff (turns out that the hotel internet is pretty
unusable by the time we arrive, but there is open wireless somewhere
near that still works!).

A few hours later, after having scrambled to finish up my presentation
slides, I collapse into sleep.  Very excited about the next morning,
dreading the early wake up time though.  Of course I wake up an hour
before the alarm is set, but that gives me time to write this down.
Shower, quick hotel breakfast, a few last minute discussions with fellow
Festies and we're off to the show!

Day 1

Lots of excited people filing into the college.  Booths mostly setup,
last minute scrambles and fixes that always happen.  Almost double the
exhibitor space this year, a welcome surprise.  The usual suspects are
in place, Novell, Google, Ubuntu, hey look, a Mandriva!  Many booths are
using Fedora on their display systems, hooray!

I attend a talk from a friend who is now a Google employee.  This is a
talk about network protocols and the various evil things folks can do
along those protocols.  Many people seemed surprised at how many vectors
there are to attack and will certainly be thinking twice about what
protocols they use.

>From there I go to another talk, this one on Grease Monkey.  Fascinating
stuff, however it really showed that one would have to know javascript
pretty well to take full advantage of it.

Next up is my first talk, A sneak peek at Fedora 9.  Ustream has a <a
href="http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/375057">video</a>, and slides are
href="http://jkeating.fedorapeople.org/presentations/lfnw-fedora-9-sneakpeek.odp">here</a>.  This talk went great.  I got to showcase a lot of really cool features in Fedora 9, as well as give out USB keys pre-loaded with almost Fedora 9.  As soon as the audience caught on to the fact that asking questions got you a USB key I started getting a lot more questions.  Not just your typical mp3 questions (which in fact wasn't asked at all!) but more interesting ones, like what is IPA and what about the Certificate Server and things like that.  The audience was nice and engaged and seemed reluctant for the talk to end which is always a good sign.

I get dragged into the "Alpha Geek" competition where I do horribly, no
surprise there.  It was still incredibly fun especially since there were
a few Fedora questions which seemed a little unfair given me being a

The after party was as after parties are, but with a twist.  This one
had a fair number of ways to damage one's self.  Brews, pizza, loud
music, oh and lots of electricity generating devices.  What fun!  The
party was set in <a href="http://www.amre.us/site/index.html">American
Museum of Radio and Electricity</a>.  Lots of fantastic old devices to
look at and play with plus lots of open source consumers/creators with
loosened tongues and stories to tell.

After a few hours, the crew I hang out with migrated to our traditional
haunt during the fest.  A Greek restaurant/bar that just happens to be
within stumbling distance of our hotel.  Alas they ran out of Grey Goose
rather early.  Rehashing of the days events, reminisces of years gone
by, and lots of jokes and innuendos thrown about.  A few friends stop by
to share a drink and a story and before you know it the bar is closing
and it's time to capture some sleep before the next day begins.

Day 2

A quick blast through Starbucks and we're on our way to the final day of
LFNW.  I've got a talk in the first time slot, "Fedora Distribution
Toolbox" (<a href="http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/377262">Video</a>, <a
href="http://jkeating.fedorapeople.org/presentations/lfnw-fedora-toolbox.odp">Slides</a>).  Here I get to show off all the cool tools and services that Fedora has created, fostered, adopted, etc.. over the past few years to make our distribution happen completely on opensource software.  There were fewer attendees for this talk, partly because they were aware that the talk would be available as a video later where some other talks wouldn't (also, they knew I had no more USB keys to give away).  I still got a good number of questions, particularly around koji, transifex, and MirrorManager.  A number of people after the talk informed me that they were much more inclined to bring their software into Fedora and work with Fedora as a distribution mechanism after hearing about all the tools we create and the ideals we hold dear.  There were a number of other people who were interested in taking our tools and using them for their own needs.  I think I'll give this talk more often as it seems to be an enlightening one.

I didn't make it to any further talks that day, I was too busy chatting
1 on 1 with various attendees who had further questions about Fedora or
about some software they were writing and would like to get into Fedora.
Before I knew it time had come for me to run the Fedora Birds of a
Feather.  I saw a lot of familiar faces, those that had been in my
previous two talks, but a number of new faces as well.  The BOF started
off a little slow with people a little shy about asking questions but
the conversations did finally get rolling.  After the 3rd or so question
related to my previous talks somebody had the bright idea to quickly run
through the presentations again for those that might have missed it.
Lightening round begin!  I blew through the presentations pretty quickly
and still got a few questions along the way.  Once again we were way
over time but people seemed reluctant to leave.  Finally we had to usher
them out as the campus was closing and my ride was leaving.

Exhausted I fell into the back of my friend's car.  Satisfied with yet
another great LFNW trip and sad that I was leaving the area in a few
days and leaving my friends behind.  This show has always been one of my
favorites.  It's very "grass roots"; free admission, word of mouth
advertising for the most part, planned in open meetings, and very
welcoming of speakers and exhibitors.  I will continue to go for as long
as the show exists and I can get funding to make the trek.  The timing
of the show makes it a great target to show off Fedora's next release
and to talk about whatever seemed important for that release cycle.  If
anybody lives in the greater northwest area of the US I would highly
recommend making the trip to see this show.

Jesse Keating
Fedora -- Freedom² is a feature!

More information about the Fedora-ambassadors-list mailing list