Ohio LinuxFest - Live Penguins and Lively Penguinistas

Posted by dcparris on Oct 2, 2006 6:18 AM EDT
LXer Newswire; By D.C. Parris
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LXer Feature: 2-Oct-2006

Lxer's Bob Whitinger and Don Parris flew to Columbus for the Ohio LinuxFest Saturday. Don shares his experience barrel rolling in a '62 Mooney, meeting popular and lively penguinistas and even a pair of live penguins.

The Ohio LinuxFest is basically a big LUG meeting - a gathering of Linux User Groups from across Ohio, with various other groups and tech vendors showing up for the fun. Bob flew me up to Columbus in a private plane, which proves that "getting there is half the fun". While there, we got to meet a lot of folks, hear some good lectures and, well, to "have a lot of fun", as the SUSE prompt always says.

Getting There

Bob and I thought we were the crazy ones. Neither of us had slept more than a couple hours Friday night before he got up, flew over from Tennessee, and picked me up at about 6:30 Saturday morning. We had a great flight up, and Bob even let me take control of the plane for a few minutes. Boy, you should have seen the surprise on his face when I pulled that triple barrell roll! O.k., would you believe me if I told you I gave the controls back when we hit a little turbulence? Anyway, we arrived in Columbus just fine, and then ran into a couple who had driven up from Tennessee, when the wife got off work at 2:30 in the morning. So much for winning the "fanatics of the day" prize!

When we arrived at the LinuxFest admission table, we just gave our names and got lunch passes, a goody bag and a cool T-shirt. It may not have been so painless for some, but we certainly had it easy. We were a few minutes late and caught the last bit of Chris BiBona talking about some of the community-related things Google is doing. After we came out, Bob and I began to make rounds of the tables and booths, and to look for the folks we might know.

I was actually surprised by the diversity of folks at the Ohio LinuxFest. Maybe it's just that the two LUGs in Charlotte have no women between them, but there were a lot of women at the Ohio LinuxFest. How did they do that? Of course, Beth Lynn Eicher was hailed as the driving force behind the Ohio LinuxFest. The NotACon representatives I saw were women as well. There were people from across the racial spectrum as well.

Who We Ran Into

I found The Linux Link Tech Show table and Linc Fessenden and I recognized each other almost off the bat. Not bad considering we've never met in person before. Linc also runs the Linux4Christians e-mail list, which is where I first got to know him. I also met Pat, who normally posts the TTLS announcements here on LXer. Then Bob and I met maddog. That's right, folks! We met John "maddog" Hall in person. Well, that may not be exciting for some, but as a newbie editor-in-chief, who has read Linux Journal frequently over the years, it was exciting to be able to meet a longtime community member.

Then we saw this height-challenged (read 'short'), dark-haired guy approaching, and it turned out to be none other than Paul Ferris. If you've never met the guy, there is something about him that just brightens your whole day. I even pinched Paul's cheek for Dinotrac! While having lunch with Paul, we got to meet a couple of the LinuxFest organizers, Beth Lynn Eicher and Michael Meffie. Then Chris DiBona sat at the table with us. Oh, what a day!

We got to meet the folks from Free Geek, a group that reinvigorates old PCs by installing GNU/Linux on them. The guys from WVU Tech were talking about a special LAN party that raises funds for special causes. I met Dan DeSloover who was talking about "Penguicon", where they mix Sci-Fi and GNU/Linux together in a really fun way. I even got a chance to talk with Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier, of Linux.com, after hearing his presentation, "Are You Linux Compatible". These are just a few folks with names, though. There were lots of cool folks out there, all just having fun.

What we Heard

Since Bob and I arrived for the morning Keynote, we only got to hear Chris DiBona talking about Google's Summer of Code project. He showed how the Summer of Code impacted the global community. Later, we heard Joe Brockmeier talking about how to know if you are ready for GNU/Linux. Dan DeSloover led a panel discussion about the "Ins and Outs of User Group Administration", something I think a lot of people need to hear more about. Christopher Browne discussed improvements, such as faster transactions and sorting in the upcoming PostgreSQL 8.2.

John "maddog" Hall was upstaged by a pair of jackass penguins - literally. Jackass penguins are also known as African penguins, and make a sound like a braying donkey. We learned a great deal about the little waddling birds, including that they are not quite as cuddly as their stuffed animal representations. The keeper explained how he knew from experience that their beaks are both pointed and serrated. The penguins are interestingly similar to humans, except that female penguins have obviously done a better job of getting the males to help with raising the children.

I vaguely recall some folks expressing concern that maddog might have achieved irrelevance, or something to that effect. After hearing him speak out for software freedom, against software patents, and how to evangelize Free Software, I have to confess that one would be a fool to write the guy off too easily. John is a good speaker. He blends humor with serious issues, and tells stories to drive the point home. And he definitely doesn't slouch when it comes to important issues like free software.

All in all, it was a great day. From flying with an experienced pilot to meeting friends I've only known across the Internet to seeing the penguins up on stage, I didn't just have fun. I had a ball. I met a lot of awesome people up in Ohio. On the flight back, Bob and I agreed that, next year, we want to do more than just show up. We would like to set up a table. Look, maybe you missed it. If so, you really missed it. All I can say is, 363 days and counting till next year!


Yes, I took photos. I don't have them edited yet, but will put them up as soon as I get them finished.

» Read more about: Story Type: LXer Features, News Story; Groups: Community, GNU, Linux, LXer

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Did Jeff Waugh make it? hiohoaus 2 1,539 Oct 2, 2006 3:56 PM
Thanks for Supporting Us! Damin 1 1,788 Oct 2, 2006 2:59 PM
It was indeed a rush. PaulFerris 7 1,598 Oct 2, 2006 12:11 PM
Reinvigorate old systems.. jayrfink 1 1,503 Oct 2, 2006 9:50 AM

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