The Texas Linux Fest is a new one-day technical conference, just in its second year. I was not able to attend last year due to it being held at the same time as the 2010 Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, and this year it was looking questionable also– but thanks to Gabriel Beddingfield all obstacles were removed. Gotta love the Linux community!
The conference was held at the downtown Hilton in Austin, Texas, a great central location for the state in general. Attendance of over 550 looked to be on par with expectations, as the keynote room was full.
Delivering the keynote this year was Ken Starks of the HeliOS Project. His subject was “How Desktop Linux is Shaping the Future.” I enjoyed his talk but have to admit I didn’t see much of a link between the body and the title. The talk was engaging, a bit rambling, and to me was more about improving the Linux experience for end users.
Following the keynote I chatted with co-organizer Nathan Willis about IVI (In-Vehicle Infotainment) systems, and we brainstormed a bit about what an IVI development kit would look like. We would both be happy with a 4 inch touchscreen device with full connectivity to automotive interfaces, but a larger touchscreen would be nice. To me the Archos 7 form factor would be ideal: not too small, not too big.
Nathan was one of the organizers and had to dash off. I had no idea where Gabriel had gone (I assumed to a talk that interested him) so I headed to the exhibition room where I knew Jayabharath Goluguri of Texas Instruments would be demonstrating Pandaboards. The TI booth attracted a great deal of interest; sometimes hardware can be a bigger draw than swag. I caught up with Jay for a while (he’s working with me on the MeeGo Community device program) and then wandered around the exhibition area.
As it has been in the press lately, cloud computing was a dominant theme– with three vendors (that I noted) and one presentation for that afternoon. I listened in on pitches and realized that one general perception amongst attendees is that “cloud computing” is just a euphemism for hosted computing solutions. That may or may not be true right now, but as many of us discussed later that day, Amazon.com thinks the sky is the limit.
I was so busy with exhibitors that I missed the early sessions, but that’s the typical risk at such conferences. It’s just great to have those choices.
Around noon I enjoyed a lunch provided by sponsors, and encountered Nathan and Gabriel again (as well as Brett Spangler, whom I had not yet met in person at that time and who turned out to be a really personable guy). They asked me questions about my presentation, which was a relief because it gave me an opportunity to practice. I had been refining the talk right up until the night before, and was a bit shaky on the delivery. I had picked a rather grandiose topic (open device ecosystems) and was wondering if I had bit off a bit too much. Going over it at lunch helped me clarify the goal of the talk and sum up points better.
I usually catch the talk before mine at least to be ready, and in this case enjoyed a highly technical talk on Linux and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) by Thomas Stover. I’ve been out of that world for a while now so it was nice to hear what’s going on.
I was still a bit nervous right up to my presentation, but eased into it by warning the audience that mine would be the first soft talk of the event. That got a little laugh, which helped me relax and move right into the subject. I had originally intended to talk about how we have been building grassroots marketing processes and materials for MeeGo, but after Nokia announced it was pulling back from MeeGo development, I realized that addressing THAT topic might make more sense. So I challenged Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s contention that there was only room in the global mobile device market for three (closed) ecosystems. I’ll go into more detail on the presentation itself in a subsequent article here.
Following my turn were provocative presentations on cloud computing and project evangelism. I enjoyed the former for the speaker’s interactive mode, and the latter for explaining why branding and project pitches are so important.
I wish I could have stuck around longer, because I had to turn down a couple of dinner invitations… but we were unable to stay overnight and needed to get back. I answered a few questions about MeeGo after the conference was over, and hopefully attracted a few more members.
In summary I was very pleased with how the conference went and glad I attended. The organizers did a really good job and there were only minor glitches that I could see. Nathan dutifully took notes for next year and I’ll probably have more suggestions for him later. I’m looking forward to what they develop!