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LinuxFest Northwest took place the last weekend in April, the 28th & 29th, in Bellingham, WA USA. The free, open source and data privacy oriented confererence, for which openSUSE was once again a Gold Sponsor, drew a crowd of 1600+ people this year.
Internally, this biggest changes for LFNW this year included the retirement of some long-time staff, and the onboarding of more partner- teachers from Bellingham Technical College; the event's host. The new organizing board was able to move swiftly and make some structural changes that will benefit the event for years to come; most notably switching from the poorly maintained COD module for Drupal, to OSEM, which the LFNW organization has contributed 96 commits, and nearly 5K LoC.
Externally, LFNW made stronger inroads into social media, and has gone from nearly zero, to > 1000 Twitter & Facebook followers. As a direct result, individual sponsorship of the event has grown significantly, allowing the event to maintain it's "fully free" stance of not requiring registration or any attendance fee for participation in sessions and the expo hall. We had more diverse speaker group, from highly experienced speakers to ~20 first-time speakers. Survey results showed a 97% positive rating overall, 91% relevant to work, and 100% (!!!) positive to session content. With an established program, LFNW will go into it's 20th year, next year, with a strong focus on refinement of what works, and tuning of what didn't (registration is, and probably always will be, a headache).
No... to more openSUSE specific; I'll defer to Carl Symons and Adrian Klaver, openSUSE volunteers who organized and staffed our minisummit and expo hall booth, respectively:
openSUSE mini-summit at LinuxFest Northwest April 29, 2018
The mini-summit was intended to be an opportunity for openSUSE supporters to get together at LinuxFest Northwest (LFNW). Presentations were unnecessary as LFNW already had a full schedule, including several talks related to openSUSE.
Although pre-registration was set up at events.opensuse.org, registrations there were scanty. We were much more successful getting people to participate by talking with them during the first day of the Fest. So rather than having the mini-summit be a branded destination, it was more of an adjunct event with LFNW … come to LFNW, the original grassroots FOSSFest, and see openSUSE at the Expo and the mini-summit.
On Saturday, April 28th, activity centered around the openSUSE Expo booth where people were told of the openSUSE activities the next day. We gave t-shirts to people who use and support openSUSE. We asked that people wear the t-shirts the following day and join us on Sunday. A word about the shirts—bright. Also distinctive and all gone. Several people commented that the Alex Geeko logo was Best of Show. Many thanks to Doug DeMaio for designing them and sending to us. The fluorescent green shirts were highly visible throughout LFNW on Sunday. Adrian Klaver organized and managed the Expo booth.
For the mini-summit, LFNW organizers gave us a hacker space classroom with wired access. We also commandeered the Haskell Atrium adjacent to it. It was a friendly space where people discussed ideas and talked about the upcoming LEAP 15 release. We gave away some plushy Geekos on Saturday, and handed out many more on Sunday. There was a drink dispenser with cold Lizard Sweat (Margarita mix & water).
We also dealt with problems people were having with openSUSE, and did a few fresh installs. All issues were resolved with assistance from a group of eager helpers. The relationship between the various SUSE distributions was explained several times. Both SUSE customers and openSUSE users were interested to hear about enterprise SLE+community openSUSE+stable LEAP +experimental Tumbleweed+well-tested openQA.
The openSUSE mini-summit was mostly an informal gathering of openSUSE users and an opportunity to share information about openSUSE. It worked well in conjunction with LFNW because the Fest attracts people from throughout the western U.S., including many openSUSE users. The distinctive shirts and BoF-like meeting highlighted the involvement of openSUSE.
Many thanks to James Mason for his leadership and work on the mini- summit, the openSUSE booth and on LinuxFest NW itself as an Organizer and main Web-ster using and improving OSEM. - - Carl Symons
LFNW 2018 Booth Report
Thanks to James Mason, Bob Potter, Carl Symons and Josephine Hollandbeck for working as booth volunteers over the two days of the Fest. The booth received many visitors over the two days of the conference. Quite a few of those indicated genuine interest in trying openSUSE, especially newcomers to Linux. The distinction between a stable version(Leap) and a rolling release(Tumbleweed) seemed to resonate with folks. The Linux Magazine with the openSUSE Leap 42.3 DVD where a big hit. So for that matter where the Geeko stuffed toys. Having SUSE employees in attendance worked out well. There where more then a few people that wanted toand did talk to them on matters business and community related. All in, interest in openSUSE/SUSE was there and was returned by the volunteers. - - Adrian Klaver
As you can see, the Pacific Northwest includes a growing complement of dedicated openSUSE volunteers, who are enthusiastically joined by a few members of SUSE staff each year (this year we were thankful to see so many members of the docs team ) who help answer questions and guide the event's curious attendees. I hope openSUSE continues to foster this relationship by sponsoring future LFNW events, and as a result we will see our support, and our volunteership, grow!
- -- James Mason email@example.com SUSE