We Need More Like This: LinuxFest Northwest 2003

by Steve Hastings

LinuxFest NorthWest 2003 was a resounding success. It was held in the city of Bellingham, Washington, which is about 90 miles North of Seattle and about 20 miles South of the Canadian border.

For the past three years, LinuxFest has been held by the Bellingham Linux Users Group (BLUG). For 2003, BLUG teamed up with several other Linux Users Groups: the Tacoma Linux Users Group (TACLUG), the Greater Seattle Linux Users Group (GSLUG), and the Kitsap Peninsula Seattle Linux Users Group (KPLUG). The group effort made for a bigger event, with much more publicity.

LinuxFest Northwest is a free event: there is no admission fee, and people could come and go through several doors. Thus it's difficult to get an exact count of how many people attended! I talked to one of the organizers, and he estimated that 1200 people attended LinuxFest 2003, compared with an estimated 200 people last year.

LinuxFest was held at the Bellingham Technical College. The showroom, with tables from various vendors and organizations, was the cafeteria. Presentations and lectures ran continuously in six rooms all day. I wished I could be in several places at once!

A crowd packed the room for Jon "maddog" Hall. All seats filled, plus people packed in around the sides. The room was as full as it could get.

The keynote speech was held in the Main Stage room. John "Maddog" Hall spoke on the subject of "Selling Open Source". He is a lively speaker and he was very entertaining. After his speech, I spoke with him briefly and he told me: "I like doing this sort of conference, where admission is free. I would like to see more conferences like this."

BLUG received a whole lot of donated stuff, which they sold or reffled off to try to recoup their expenses. They sold raffle tickets all day, and then at 4:30 P.M., when the presentations were over, they had drawings and gave out the prizes.

Dr. Crispin Cowan telling us about the Capture the Flag event, where teams tried to compromise each other's servers while protecting their own. His team used Immunix, but they took too long setting it up so they only placed second.

LinuxFest had a great atmosphere: it was pro-Linux and fun, with very little bashing of Microsoft or anyone else. It was geared towards Linux enthusiasts who already know something about Linux, but some of the presentations could be enjoyed by anyone.

While the Bellingham Technical College was in many ways a nice place to hold LinuxFest, it wasn't quite big enough for all the people who attended. Next year, LinuxFest may be forced to move to a larger venue.

All the speakers, including John "Maddog" Hall, spoke without being paid! Many volunteers worked hard to make this event happen. BLUG is already starting to plan next year's LinuxFest. If you want to volunteer to help out, send email to: lfnw@blug.org

Congratulations to all the people who made LinuxFest happen. It was great, and I look forward to attending again next year!

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