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I attend technical conferences several times each year as a part of my job, along with several hundred (sometimes several thousand) of my closest friends. If you are reading this, chances are that you probably do as well. And if you are like me, you probably find that these trips can be quite difficult for the family left behind. Nightly calls and emails are simply not the same as being there for the many necessary activities involved in family life – not to mention the human connection.

This week I have been in Portland attending OSCON and the Community Leadership Summit while my wife and my son are at home doing their thing. As we were talking the other night, it occurred to her that there are many, many other families who are chugging along this week without a spouse, many women and men who are functioning essentially as single parents, many of them with jobs themselves. She came up with a corker of an idea.

We are big fans of Matt Harding, of Where the Hell is Matt fame. His simple movies of doing silly dances with people all over the world are a testament to the global community we all belong to. My wife’s idea is to create a similar video showing all of us coming home from these trips and reuniting with our families, set to music – just a short reminder that even though we may not know each other or have exactly the same experience, we are all in this little boat together.

If you would like to participate, please send me email at jefro@jefro.net.


I have finally updated my calendar of open source and embedded systems conferences.

There have been a lot of changes this year, most notably the Embedded Linux Conference moving from April up to February and also moving location from San Francisco to Redwood Shores, CA, USA. This is a premier annual meeting of embedded Linux engineers, and I am pleased to announce an addition this year. On Tuesday, February 14, the Yocto Project presents a Developer Day, a full day of embedded Linux training, free of charge. Seating is limited, so register early and get more information on the Yocto Project Developer Day page at the Linux Foundation.

I will be attending and speaking at several of these conferences. If you see me, say hi!


Open source is very big in embedded systems right now, and Linux is at its very heart, and the spring conference season has been breathtakingly busy. This spring, I attended Linux Collaboration Summit and Embedded Linux Conference, where we launched Yocto Project 1.0, as well as a busy Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Silicon Valley, and heard great things about the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco as well as Indiana Linux Fest, Texas Linux Fest, SouthEast Linux Fest, Northwest Linux Fest, Northeast Linux Fest, Palmetto Open Source Software Conference, Open Source Bridge in Portland, LinuxTag in Germany, LinuxCon Japan, and several others, including the perennial Ottawa Linux Symposium. NASA even hosted their first Open Source Summit, for which I am still making my way through the proceedings. The Mobile Computing Summit is going on right now in San Francisco, and the OpenSource Developer’s Conference Malaysia started today in Kuala Lumpur. I wish I could go to all of them!

Now the summer conference season is upon us, despite the odd weather. Summer brings my three favorite events – CLS, OSCON, and LinuxCon – as well as Linux Plumbers Conference, and it forecasts the busy fall season as well. Here are some details on the big ones for embedded Linux.

OSCON

For open source junkies, the Mecca of open source conferences is O’Reilly Media‘s OSCON which is held in Portland every summer, this year July 25-29. OSCON draws thousands of people every year, and with good reason – it is the largest annual mixture of industry and “pure” open source ventures to talk specifically about open source. You will find everything here, from expo hall to half-day tutorials, presentations to BoFs, lightning talks to after-parties, and never a dull moment. This year, O’Reilly is also co-locating two new conferences, OSCON Data and OSCON Java, which cover (naturally) open data and the Java language. This makes the week intensely busy, so keep a close eye on the schedule.

I’ll be at OSCON all week, talking about the Yocto Project as an opener for our premier build engineer Beth Flanagan talking about the Yocto Project Autobuilder, as well as at a (planned) evening BoF. It is also my intention to reprise the popular Hallway Hoedown afternoon jam session from last year, and possibly a music BoF, so bring an instrument! (Day & time TBA.)

I will also be attending the Community Leadership Summit during the weekend prior to OSCON. This is a free conference where community leaders can come together and share best practices, swap stories of good and bad experiences, and network with each other. The crowd is always very vibrant, and it isn’t just technical communities – we have had participants from all walks of life. If you manage a community, please check it out or write to me for more information. It is a free event, but please be sure to register.

The one thing about OSCON is that it is somewhat expensive, but I can help with that. Contact me by email or in the comments below for a registration code worth 20% off.

Also, join the social networks surrounding OSCON if you enjoy couch surfing or linking up with friendly, like-minded strangers to share housing, as that is quite common with this event. And for food, the Portland food carts are legendary, mystical places where everything is tasty, healthy, and cheap. Be sure to follow @oscon on twitter, and watch #oscon for late-breaking information.

LinuxCon North America, Vancouver, BC

LinuxCon is the premier general Linux event of the year, and this year is a doozy. As most (probably all) of the readers of this blog already know, this year is the 20th anniversary of the Linux operating system, and while Linus himself is celebrating with a no-stress major revision, the Linux Foundation has taken it upon themselves to throw a huge party in Canada.

LinuxCon starts off with a grand educational event – the “Linux Learners” Student Day – put together by the very good folks at Oregon State’s Open Source Lab. Then the conference itself begins, featuring keynotes from several Linux luminaries, a Q&A with Linus and Greg Kroah-Hartmann, a panel called “20 Years of Linux” with Eben Moglen (Software Freedom Law Center), Jim Zemlin (Executive Director, Linux Foundation), and Jon “Maddog” Hall, and several tracks of presentations.

Oh, and in case that wasn’t fun enough, don’t just fly to Vancouver – go to Portland instead and take the LinuxCon or Bust Bus for several hours of fun through the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Then on Wednesday night, the event of the year is the Linux “Roaring 20’s” 20th Anniversary Gala at the Commodore Ballroom, with a full dinner buffet, open bar, live jazz, and casino – you can event rent 1920s attire to complete the picture.

I’ll be participating in a 2-hour hands-on Yocto Project presentation with Saul Wold, one of the project’s lead engineers. There will also be a Yocto Project Community BoF, and several Yocto Project folks available during the event for one-on-one discussions.

Fall 2011

Some fantastic conferences are coming up in the fall: Linux Plumber’s Conference, Open Hardware Summit in New York (CFP is open through July 1!), ARM TechCon, Open World Forum in Paris, and the big Linux Foundation events in Prague: Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELC-E), LinuxCon Europe, and the Kernel Summit, plus LinuxCon Brazil in November, to name just a few. Watch this space for more information in an upcoming post.

Also keep in mind that you can follow all of these conferences from my open source conferences page, which contains a link to a Google Calendar that tracks them as well.

Ain’t it fun being social?


Community Leadership Summit (CLS)

The Community Leadership Summit is an important annual 2-day unconference event at which close to 200 community leaders get together and swap stories and best practices. What makes this summit unique is that it is not entirely made up of technical leaders – a number of participants work in social media, and in fact many of them work outside technical circles altogether (one this year was from an improv comedy community). This year I helped organize the conference by servicing the wiki in the weeks leading up as well as moving chairs and such during the event.

CLS is itself a community of community leaders, so it is a great opportunity to discuss meta-issues. One of the most interesting themes this year was the difference between community management – the day-to-day handling of problems, efforts to stimulate interest and maintain membership, etc. – and community leadership, which is a much more fluid concept. Leaders occur naturally, but must be cultivated in order to flourish. In this respect, I really appreciate the ideas of Karsten Wade, a worldwide Fedora community leader who titles himself a “community gardener”.

I attended several very stimulating unconference sessions, including but not limited to:

  • Why Bother? covered community member intent as well as retention and motivation http://www.communityleadershipsummit.com/wiki/index.php/WhyBother
  • Getting Along, covering the acceptance of open-source in proprietary communities & vice versa
  • I ran one session called “Jam Session” in which we discussed the benefits of alternative social communities (like music jams, rural communities, homeschooling groups, etc.) and the skills one can learn that transfer directly into community membership. It was attended by 11 other community managers from diverse backgrounds (O’Reilly, Google, LinuxFund).

If anyone reading this has a photo of the session board, I’d love to see it – the ones I wrote down seem to have disappeared.

OSCON

OSCON is sort of a zoo in the sense that there is far too much to see and do, and with 17 different simultaneous tracks there was no way to do it all. Here’s what I did do:

Monday:

  • Get Started with the Arduino – A Hands-On Introductory Workshop, an excellent half-day tutorial
  • met with Symbian maintainer Lars Kuth
  • met with SheevaPlug expert Bryan Smith
  • evening BoF session on Teaching Open Source

    Wednesday:

  • keynotes by Tim O’Reilly and several others
  • 5 FOSS in Edu Projects that Changed the World with Mel Chua and Karsten Wade
  • Plug Computing Primer about Marvell’s SheevaPlug, by the excellent Bryan Smith
  • How to Boot Linux on the Beagle Board, given by me to about 75 people and featuring demos & long discussion with about 7 people in the hallway afterward
  • Google Open Source Update 2010 given by Chris diBona and Carol Smith, who manages Google Summer of Code
  • Expo hall reception, rubbed shoulders with open-source greats
  • Embedded Linux Community BoF, which I ran, was an hour-long stimulating conversation mostly about commercial embedded Linux
  • long conversation in the hall with embedded Linux & education folks, followed by a quiet sushi dinner with several who remained

    Thursday:

  • keynotes in the morning, including one by SETI chair Jill Tarter
  • previously-unnanounced SETI developer meeting at lunchtime
  • MeeGo Technical Overview
  • afternoon social jam session in the hallway, at which I met several fascinating folks I wouldn’t have met otherwise
  • Educating the Next Generation of FOSS Developers with Luis Ibanez
  • Opportunities for Students to Contribute to FOSS Projects with Heidi Ellis et al
  • some time spent in the event hall with the MeeGo folks in the Intel booth
  • Effectively Managing Documentation for Open-Source Projects by me, presented to over 100 people with a lengthy discussion afterward
  • evening reception at the DoubleTree hotel where I met a few cool Rails developers as well as O’Reilly conference leads Alison Randall and Ed Dumbill

    Friday: quite weary, headed for home

    Whew! Now I need to finish my slides for LinuxCon…

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