Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce linux.conf.au: Getting the smalltalk on the road

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Some of the topics are new - community wireless, for one. Turnbull says this is a field of increasing interest given the spread of internet use and the inability of many to obtain decent bandwidth. The other new mini conferences are those to do with Gentoo and distributions. The latter is being organised by Linux Australia chief Jonathan Oxer.

Security finds a place as this is one of the focal points of the whole programme - security guru Bruce Schneier is one of the keynote speakers.

Once someone puts up his or her hand to take on a mini conference and it gets included in the LinxConf programme, the whole show is handed over to that individual. It is up to him or her to plan the content of the mini conference, while it is Turnbull's responsibility to provide the space, presentation aids etc. In other words, the micro-managament commonly seen in the corporate world is absent - and that, in large part, is what makes the entire programme markedly more effective and efficient.

Given that both participants and organisers come from all over Australia (and some from across the pond), email plays a big role in communication. One hallmark of people in this community is that they really know how to use email effectively to get things done. One only has to look at the way the Linux kernel is developed as an illustration.

Turnbull has to expend a considerable amount of time to ensure that everything works well at the conference but he juggles things around and makes everything fit. He will use up his annual leave attending next year's conference and when one says that he is happy to do so, one is saying a lot.

He is but one of a handful of volunteers who will sit down at the end of the conference with a sense of satisfaction. There won't be a paycheck to show but there will be a feeling of having done something that cannot be measured in mere mundane terms.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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