Monday, April 11, 2011

Texas Linux Fest 2011

This is sadly a week over due in the blog space, but last weekend (April 2, 2011) was the second annual Texas Linux Fest in Austin, TX. This year was night and day compared to last year in terms of turn out, venue and number of vendors with booths.

There were roughly right around 500-600 people at the event in the Hilton Downtown Austin and we filled their conference rooms right up. The Fedora booth was extremely busy! I even had a couple people from other booths come over and make comments on how busy we were which was a pleasant surprise from fellow exhibitors. Even during the "lunch break hour" (the sessions broke for lunch but the hall where the booths were hosted never had a shut down moment) the Fedora booth was a notably happening location in the exhibition hall. There were vendors from all walks of the Linux ecosystem there: Fedora, Red Hat, IBM, HP, Dell, HostGator, RackSpace, Softlayer, Webmin,, OpenStack, Novell/SLES, LinuxJournal Magazine, and many more (apologies to those who weren't listed ... that's just what I could remember off the top of my head a week later).

The usual swag were big hits, the Fedora buttons, ink pens, stickers as well as pressed media were in high demand and we had a box of Design Suite media left over from the SXSW event that had gone on two weeks before that were extremely popular as not many people knew it existed. Many of the conference attendees who showed interest in the Design Suite were either those who dabble in graphic design or have a friend who does it in more serious context and they've been looking for a good avenue to show off the FOSS alternatives to the proprietary tools these individuals currently work with.

Dell also had a booth across the way from us and they were giving away a laptop at the end of the day. One of our fellow Fedora Ambassadors (Julio Villarreal) ran over and fired up some Fedora on it and the Dell reps who were there were good sports about it and let it run on there all day which I thought was another night avenue to show off some Fedora goodness.

I was also extremely excited to see so many new faces in the crowd, the volume of Linux users who were likely in high school or fresh into the college scene that were very interested in what Fedora is up to and has to offer was refreshing and I hope to see many of them become key players in the Fedora of tomorrow. The OLPC XO was a big hit as was my Genesi EfikaMX Smartbook that I brought along with me to show off what the Fedora ARM development team has been hard at work at (very big special thanks to Dennis Gilmore for putting up with my ultra ARM-noob self while trying to make that thing work in time for the conference). On the topic of Fedora ARM, there was a PandaBoard booth at the conference and a few of their booth exhibitors came over to check out Fedora ARM running on the smartbook and to ask questions about the efforts that were ongoing. They were very impressed!!

There were a number of users who were interested in the alternate desktops (LXDE was extremely popular) available on the installation DVDs that were on the booth table. We gave away roughly 500+ pieces of media, probably 200-ish case badges, similar amount of stickers, all of the buttons (think there were 150-200 of those), all of the stickers left over from SXSW, and a hand full of balloons and temporary tattoos.

The Fedora booth was stationed right next to the Red Hat booth which as I've expressed before I think is a very powerful statement to have us standing next to one another but as our own separate entities. Many times we at the Fedora booth were asked about the relationship with Red Hat as well as if we were Red Hat employees. None of us at the booth this year were "Hatters" and that came as a surprise to a number of the conference attendees but we still the same enjoyed explaining the heritage of the community centric Fedora and its long time relationship to Red Hat. Those talking points I felt were very effective in explaining many things that people "on the outside" don't 100% understand.

All in all I would have to say it was an excellent conference and I can't wait for more like it so that we can go out and show off the awesomeness that is Fedora!