[Linux-aus] About a User Conference - grand plans

Michael Still mikal at stillhq.com
Thu Feb 24 04:53:02 UTC 2005

Tim Bowden wrote:
> On Tue, 2005-02-22 at 23:20 +0800, Leon Brooks wrote:
>>On Tuesday 22 February 2005 18:38, Tim Bowden wrote:
>>>Do we really need to cater to newbies?
>>Yes, very much so, but perhaps not in the manner that I suspect most of 
>>us imagine.
> I must admit to not having given much thought as to what a typical
> newbie might want from such a conf, or how likely they are to come.
> After all, you need to have made a significant emotional commitment to
> linux before considering investing money & time off work etc to attend.

If the event is on a weekend, then no one is missing any work...

>>>I know they are /very/ important, but the type of user conf that
>>>might work better (at least initially), is one that is aimed at
>>>'professional users', ie, dba's, small time(?) web/sys admins,
>>>serious desktop users (oo.o, gimp...) and so on, who are not
>>>kernel developers and not well catered for at lca.
>>>That type of user profile would not have any problems with a uni
>>>type venue and would be more accommodating to a numbers cap.
>>>Surely there would be vendors who would support such an audience,
>>>even if not with the same $$ as with lca- Novel? HP? Oracle? Does
>>>anyone have any concrete idea of how they would view such an
>>I am thinking that a user conference should operate as a kind of 
>>combined recruitment drive and set of boot-camp seminars. It should aim 
>>to attract and to some extent add credence to two major groups of 
>>users, what you might call user-users and admin-users.
> So long as the conf is not aimed too low, as you will miss those who can
> add most to it, ie, those who have been using linux as a desktop
> platform for a few years and feel comfortable doing multi-boot,
> installing software, swapping distros, know what /dev/hd.. is, like to
> play with different window managers, fiddle with iptables and so on.

Those people are speakers / mentors at the event though. You encourage 
them to come along in a different way to the people who are there to 

>>IOW, it should be a FOSS conference rather than overtly Linux-specific, 
>>and pitched both at people who want to use The GIMP better, and at 
>>people who are (considering) adminning Linux (or *BSD) workstations and 
>>servers - with just enough glue for the part-time admins (call them 
>>"power users") to keep them happy too. It should not have sessions on 
>>dprobes or porting device drivers to the Power platform. If Linus 
>>appears there, it would be a cameo on the first or last day as he was 
>>on his way to/from LCA.
> Make the content FOSS focused, sure.  Perhaps we could call it FUC- Foss
> Users Conf.  Perhaps it would still be wise to have the name linux in
> there somewhere...
> I can't see that it would be productive use of Linus' time for him to
> drop in.  From what I understand he likes to keep a few layers between
> him and users, and with good reason.  Holding the two conf's close (time
> wise) would also stop people from going to both- say 4 - 6 months apart.
> Without a doubt, there would be some overlap of attendance, especially
> in the home town of the conf.

Hey, no one has even said Linus comes to all of the LCAs! I would never 
expect to see Linus at a user's conference for much the same reasons as 
you. We do need to remember he isn't a performing monkey and does have 
work to do.

>>So, for example, you might have five streams: call them user1, user2, 
>>power, admin, meta.
>>User1 and user2 are for the GIMP jockeys and learning how to use 
>>Konqueror for fun and profit.
>>Power is "How to boot Ubuntu and then install it on your system" or "My 
>>LAN has fallen and it can't get up - but I have this live CD..."
> Maybe I've been using linux for too long, but is that really a power
> user exercise?  An enquiring novice with reasonable winXX experience
> would find that interesting.
>>Admin is "Integrating Linux workstations into an Active Directory 
>>evironment" and "Migrating from IIS to Apache".
> Why migrating from IIS?  Why concentrate so much on migrating from
> windows servers?  There has to be plenty of small time apache admins who
> have never seen IIS who would attend an apache admins session.  The same
> goes for small time admins who have had to tackle ldap and samba for
> serving to windows desktops and have no idea what the microsoft
> solutions is.

I agree that migration of servers isn't a user topic -- that's an admin 
topic for one of the established admin conferences.

> Perhaps my own experience as a part time small business sysadmin is
> atypical, but I would tend to shy away from a "migrating from..." type
> session, as I've never used windows for anything more complicated than
> sharing a printer or basic directory sharing on a lan (and I try to
> avoid even that like the plague).  I have always used linux based
> solutions for firewalls, web/ftp/file/whatever servers, but have never
> had any formal training or courses.  I'd jump at the chance to hear the
> experts share their experience.  If such a conf offered a LAMP stream,
> I'm sure you would get several hundred turning up without once
> mentioning "migrating from..."
>>Meta is "Overcoming legal barriers to opening your source", "Minimising 
>>patent exposure with Open Source Software" and "Finding the balance: 
>>practical economic analysis of Open Source deployment within your 
>>The grand vision is to both grow the FOSS (and by implication Linux) 
>>"market" and also to introduce more technical people to it in a 
>>practical sense. Growing the userbase is all well and good, but if 
>>they're starved for support several bad things will happen:
>>  * Users will be left helpless, and FOSS will get a bad name;
>>  * Sharks will move in to take advantage of the above, and
>>    FOSS will get a bad name;
>>  * Money will continue to go to paper tigers and get shipped
>>    overseas to people who aren't exactly cash-starved rather
>>    than going back into the pockets of working Australians.
>>By staging conferences like this, we will familiarise people with FOSS 
>>and specifically Linux, and show them that something other than their 
>>friendly neighbourhood geek is happening in the area.
>>With this in mind, it would make sense to have such conferences in every 
>>capital city and perhaps a handful of regional centres as well, but to 
>>put it simply, we don't yet have enough people to pull that off.
> So let's scale back a bit, and have a small user conf to /start/ with
> that keeps its focus on those who are already well down the FOSS road,
> but aren't interested in being kernel developers.  There is a huge gulf
> between introducing newbies to FOSS and what LCA caters for.  See how it
> goes.  If it works, it will take on a life of its own, as lca has.  It
> will go where the users want to take it, not where the marketing machine
> thinks it is needed.


>>So... what _I_ think we should do is send up a trial balloon later this 
>>year, maybe in August or September, in one of the capital cities, and 
>>if that works out we should have *two* running more or less back to 
>>back in widely separated cities for 2006. Maybe do that again in 2007, 
>>or maybe split out to *three* cities, and maybe make one of them Kiwi, 
>>and so on, expanding gradually until we have one in every capital city 
>>each year.
> That is turning into a linux user marketing exercise.  Why not let the
> lug's do the running (with la support) if a user conf looks to be of
> interest to them?
> At the moment we don't have the resources to properly handle the
> conf/roadshow type interest of newbies, so instead of saying it's too
> hard, lets cater for a need we can see and relatively easily fill that
> already exists in our own community.  Concentrate on those already in
> the FOSS world who are one step below what lca caters to.




Michael Still (mikal at stillhq.com) | "The geek shall inherit
http://www.stillhq.com            |  the earth"
UTC + 11                          |    -- The Simpsons

Linux.conf.au 2005 -- Quite like an excellent Linux and Open Source
conference. http://lca2005.linux.org.au

More information about the linux-aus mailing list