[Linux-aus] President's Report for 2010

John Ferlito johnf at inodes.org
Wed Jan 26 17:05:32 EST 2011

Linux Australia President's Report for 2010

Late in December 2009 I approached James Turnbull and some others to see if
they would be interested in running for the Linux Australia council together.
Apparently I was quite convincing, and we decided that we would run on a common

   * Transparency
   * Governance
   * Mandate
   * Leadership & Advocacy
   * Community
   * Cross-regional

In the last year I believe that the council have done quite a good job in
trying to meet these goals and expand the breadth and depth of what Linux
Australia is and does. I hope that we can continue on this path in the future
and ensure that Linux Australia truly supports our community and helps to
achieve the goals that we set out.

Council Meetings

The Linux Australia council attempted to meet once per fortnight this year. 25
telephone conferences were held and two circular resolutions were circulated.
Two face to face meetings of the council were held in Sydney during the year.

Changes to the Council

At the end of May, James Turnbull resigned from the position of President on
the council as a result of moving to the United States. I would like to thank
James for all the work he did during the first half of the year in his role as
president. I would especially like to draw attention to the work that James put
into the Linux Australia Membership Survey.

This resignation culminated in my appointment as president. Joshua Hesketh was
also appointed to the council to take on the vacated role of Treasurer.

linux.conf.au 2011

The venue selected for this year's linux.conf.au was Brisbane. The council has
worked throughout the year with the LCA2011 core team; in particular, some
members of the Council met with past LCA organisers and the new LCA team for
Ghosts in April up in Brisbane. This was an extremely valuable experience where
past organisers were able to pass on some wisdom, and the current team could
elaborate on some of the ideas they had in store for us this year. The meeting
was held at the venue itself, where we were able to take a short tour of where
the conference was to be held as well as some of the surrounding areas.

As everyone is no doubt aware, Brisbane and many parts of greater Queensland
were hit by devastating floods in the two weeks leading up to the conference.
This meant that the original LCA venue, as well as some of the event venues,
were no longer usable.

The LCA2011 team pulled off an amazing feat in managing to make sure that the
conference still ran and was a success. Sitting here in the middle of the
conference, it is hard to imagine that only weeks ago the conference was
scheduled to occur in a different location in Brisbane.

I cannot thank the team enough for the enormous effort that they have put in
above and beyond what would normally be expected of any LCA team.

I'd also like to thank Joshua Hesketh who acted as the council liaison to the
2011 team.

Other Conferences

We recently had two very successful conferences which were supported by Linux

The first was PyCon AU 2010: this is the first time that this event has been
run in Australia and was possible due to the hard work of Tim Ansell, Neil
Davenport and Richard Jones. I hear that the event was a tremendous success,
and sold out before close of registrations. A few attendees I've talked to were
very excited and can't wait for next year's conference. The conference is
running on a model of the same team running it twice in a row in the same city
and a formal request for bids to host PyCon AU 2012-2013 in the next few

The second was Drupal Down Under 2011, which ran the weekend prior to LCA. The
event was attended by Dries Buytaert, who is both the Linus Torvalds of the
Drupal world and the Rusty Russell of Drupal conferences. The event provided a
focus that allowed the Australian Drupal community to come together for the
first time, and its success helped raise the profile of the Australian Drupal
community with the US based Drupal Association, which has indicated that such a
vibrant local community could support a version of the much larger DrupalCon
conference in our region. The next Drupal Down Under is already being planned
for Melbourne in 2012.

linux.conf.au 2012 Bid Process

The request for linux.conf.au 2012 bid submissions was announced in May.
Submissions were received during the following months and the bid submission
window was finally closed in August.

I'd like to than Michael Carden who acted as acted as bid team liaison He
facilitated communicating with the teams on any questions we had with regards
to their bids as well as organising site visits.  During October members of the
council took the opportunity to visit each of the bid sites and meet with each
team personally.

A decision was made on the successful bidder in November and LCA Broome will be
announced at the closing ceremony of linux.conf.au 2011.

Media Sub-Committee

One area in which we have been lacking recently is in communicating our message
with regards to issues we care about out effectively to the media. This
includes messaging about events we are holding, announcements about
linux.conf.au and opinions on relevant issues.

The idea of resurrecting the media sub-committee was originally raised at the
Face to Face meeting in February. There was a press team once upon a time; the
mailing list even still exists! We have asked James Purser to put together a
team and a framework for it to work in, so that not too great a burden is
placed on any one member.

If you are interested in helping out with media related activities, whether on
twitter or with media organisations directly, please get in touch with James.

This year we received a fair amount of press coverage in the IT news outlets,
averaging about 1 article a month. I think that with the help of a media
sub-committee that we should be able to create an even greater exposure.

Zookeepr Sub-Committee

A bunch of Zookeepr developers met in Brisbane in May to perform some
pre-linux.conf.au hacking and planning. These events have been run the last
couple of years and have ensured that the Zookeepr platform keeps being

Zookeepr has now been used as the linux.conf.au conference management system
for five consecutive conferences, which is quite an achievement considering
this system used to be re-invented every one to two years previously.

We hope that in the next year it can be expanded to some of the other
conferences that Linux Australia is now involved in.

Linux Australia Membership Survey

Early in 2010 a survey of Linux Australia Members was run. The survey was aimed
at the Australian FOSS community and our aim was to gather information to aid
us in making decisions about what Linux Australia is, and the directions that
it should take as an organisation. We had an excellent response with 528
submissions, including three people claiming to be Linus Torvalds.

It has taken us longer than expected to collate the results of the survey;
however, these are now ready and will be announced by the end of linux.conf.au.

Additionally, we have taken great care to anonymise the raw data before it is
released. It is our hope that the community will help us in spending some time
to analyse the data and tell us what they think it means. In due course, the
Council will present some analyses of its own.

Australian Treasury Department, SBR and Auskey

This year the Australian Treasury launched its Standard Business Reporting
(SBR) project. SBR aims to standardise reporting to government and provide a
centralised point to submit forms to government agencies. It will allow the
electronic of submission of documents like a BAS or employment declaration in a
standard format.

A complementary project, AusKey has also been rolled out. AusKey is an all of
government PKI system which can be used to authenticate businesses on line. It
is already beginning to replace existing systems like the ATO's ECI system used
for authenticating to the BAS filing portal.

This year, along with the assistance of Ron Skeoch from Muli Management, Linux
Australia worked with Treasury to ensure that the Open Source community would
not be left behind. After a number of meetings including a visit to Canberra to
perform some on-site testing of the  proposed solution, a Linux targeted
version of AusKey was released in early December.

Work is still ongoing within Treasury to supply a C version of the SBR API that
could be used on Open Source systems. While the initial release, expected
sometime in 2011, is unlikely to be Open Source, I am still confident that an
open source release will eventually come to fruition.

**For purposes of transparency I would like to disclose that I am personally
working with the ATO in a commercial capacity to potentially supply the SBR
solution and help to open source it.**


This year Linux Australia made a concerted effort to try and expand its support
of Open Source conferences in Australia. This year Linux Australia has
supported the following conferences

   * linux.conf.au 2010
   * Wordcamp 2011
   * PyConAU 2010
   * Drupal Down Under 2011

These conferences have all been set up as sub-committees of Linux Australia and
have been run or will be run as Linux Australia events. This has enabled us to
support the organisers of these conferences with the admin side of things, such
as bank accounts, accounting systems and insurance. This has enabled the
organisers to concentrate on the important aspects of running their

In future years we hope to offer even more support to conferences in terms of
media and sponsor relations.

Banking and Insurance

Another project undertaken this year was to clean up the Linux Australia bank
accounts. Joshua and I both rediscovered how painful dealing with banks can be;
however, we now have quite efficient systems in place to be able to set up
extra users and accounts to support sub-committees that require a bank account.
This should alleviate some of that pain in future. We also issued credit cards
to some council members to be able to process expenses for Linux Australia
events more easily.

A PayPal account was also set up to enable our smaller conferences to more
easily accept registrations.

This year we switched to the Xero online accounting system account system to
handle our financial accounts. This has streamlined out financial
administration and reduced the burden on our treasury.

Early in the year we performed an audit of our insurance. We discovered that we
had some rather large gaps in our current insurance coverage and what we could
actually offer to external organisations. After some discussions with our
insurance broker we now have the following policies:

  * Volunteers insurance
  * Business Insurance (PL and PI)
  * Association insurance

Considering the events at linux.conf.au this year, we will also be
investigating what we can purchase in terms of event cancellation insurance.

General Administration

Some other random administration tasks were dealt with.

   * Closed storage shed in Tasmania
   * Excess LCA schwag given to SFD teams
   * Linux Keyboards donated to Computer Bank Melbourne
   * Received fax box sponsorship from UTBox
   * Last bits of LCA2010 were finalised. Money moved back to AU accounts. A bank account with a small amount of funds was left open in NZ for a rainy day

Policy Work

The council this year has also done some work on trying to put together some
more official policy documents that can be used across the organisation and for
all the conferences we run. Work was done on the following policies and it is
hoped that drafts will be sent out shortly:

   * Expenses Policy
   * Diversity Policy
   * Harassment Policy (with thanks to Valerie Aurora)
   * linux.conf.au bid process
   * Financial accounts process
   * LUGs as sub-committees
   * Conferences as sub-committees

The linux.conf.au Domain

Over the last few years AuDA has been considering the long term future of the
linux.conf.au domain. Previous councils have submitted documents to this
process and in 2010 we encouraged Linux Australia members to fill in the web
form for comments on the draft recommendations.

AuDA finally handed down its final report earlier this year. While the
conclusion was to discontinue the .conf.au domain, it was decided that
linux.conf.au will be grandfathered to Linux Australia. This means that we will
be able to continue to use this domain, and to use it all year rather than just
the 6 months around the conference.

I would like to extend many thanks to Steve Walsh who has been instrumental
over the last full years in pushing this process forward and in ensuring that
the domain has been available every year at the time of the conference.

Linux User Groups

I would like to thank Alice Boxhall for acting as council liaison to the
Australian Linux User groups. She attended the monthly LUGCOMMs meeting which
helped us understand the needs of LUGs around Australia and what Linux
Australia could offer them in terms of assistance.

One of the outcomes of this meeting was that LUGs can now have access to the
following Linux Australia resources:

   * Website
   * Wikis
   * Mailing lists
   * DNS

This has enabled some of the smaller LUGs, which don't have many resources, to
more easily maintain a web presence.

Some work is also being done to create a framework in which LUGs can become
sub-committees of Linux Australia. This will eventually enable LUGs to fall
under the Linux Australia umbrella and allow us to gain some economies of scale
by centralising some administrative functions.

Grants Scheme

Every year Linux Australia budgets approximately $20,000 for the grants
programme. The scheme aims to support and encourage the community in fostering
open source, whether this be helping to organise a conference or manning a
stand at an expo.

Unfortunately it is rare that Linux Australia utilises the whole of its budget.
If you have any ideas on events or support that Linux Australia could provide
then please suggest a grant or spread the word to others that we might be able
to help.

This year the following projects were supported by the grants scheme:

   * Sydney Education Expo
   * Software Freedom Day Canberra
   * Software Freedom Day Melbourne
   * Brendan Scott paper
   * Sponsorship of Libre Graphics Meeting 2010

Sydney Education Expo

Through the grants programme a Linux Australia stand was present at the Sydney
Education Expo. This event was organised by Patrick Elliott-Brennan who did a
wonderful job in preparing everything required for the stand at the expo.
Sridhar Dhanapalan also assisted in his role as Technical Manager at OLPC
Australia, who shared the stand with us and provided some sponsorship.

Software Freedom Day

Software Freedom Day was held - as usual - in September. There were a number of
teams who helped promote the Open Source message in Australia on the day. Two
of these were supported through the grants scheme and through donations of left
over linux.conf.au schwag.

In Closing

I would like to thank the other members of the outgoing Linux Australia
council, as they have been invaluable though out the year in trying to achieve
our goals. I would also like to thank all the volunteers that have helped to
support and run the various events that Linux Australia has been involved in
throughout the year, particularly the organisers of the many conferences we now

John Ferlito
Linux Australia, President

Blog                             http://www.inodes.org
LCA2011                          http://www.lca2011.org.au

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