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Is it really a good idea to head the organising of a major technical conference when you have a young wife and child at home? Is it wise to take on this kind of a load when you are a full-time worker and commute a few hours some days of the week to get to your job?


And above all, is it prudent to head the organising team of such a conference when you are located in a regional area, with the inherent disadvantages that come with such a location?

It is doubtful that any, or all, of these considerations went through the head of Josh Stewart (pictured below) when he and a group of his friends started throwing around the idea of hosting the Australian national Linux conference in Ballarat.

This was back in 2006, at the LCA in Dunedin. Stewart's first conference was 2005 in Canberra and he came to like it a great deal - as has been the case with many others.

"The idea of linux.conf.au Ballarat was first jokingly thrown around when a group of us were out one night during the conference in Dunedin," Stewart told iTWire. "I'd been attending linux.conf.au since 2005 and loved it every year, but at the time our group was really nothing more than a few guys barely out of uni, laughing about how crazy you'd have to be to try and run the event in Ballarat. There was no Linux User Group and the size of the conference would make it one of the largest ever held in the city."

But then things slowly changed. "Following that though, the Ballarat Linux Users Group was founded and after a strong core of members started to build up, the idea of hosting LCA began to surface again at one of the installfests that was run jointly with Linux Users Victoria," Stewart said.
Josh Stewart
"Instrumental in this was the encouragement and continual pokings from the 2008 conference director, Donna Benjamin, who was great for bouncing ideas off and generally seeing whether the idea was as crazy as it sounded. There's no way we'd be holding the conference in 2012 if it wasn't for Donna."

But the idea stayed an idea until 2009 when the conference was held in Hobart. "It wasn't until LCA Hobart that we got serious about planning and one night the seven or eight Ballarat people attending all got together and started hammering out ideas for what would become our bid to host LCA in 2011," he said.

"While we were unsuccessful that year, we learned a tremendous amount and this was put back into a bid for 2012 and really, the rest is history up to this point."

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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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