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CANBERRA: The founder of the Australian national Linux conference doesn't walk around with a swagger, in a suit and tie with his colours flying from the mast.

No, Paul "Rusty" Russell, who took a massive leap of faith in 1999 when he organised and ran the first conference in the dead of the southern hemisphere winter, walks around in nondescript clothes, chatting with people he knows.

During one of these forays, he sat down for a brief chat, replete in a Firefox T-shirt.

Russell is happy that this year's event has concentrated more on the technical side as far as the programme is concerned.

He told iTWire that after looking at the programme, there were often times when he found it difficult to choose between two talks, both of which appealed to him equally.

"That's the best problem to have," said Russell, whose conference has matured and grown beyond his wildest expectations.

"It means that there is so much in-depth content that any technical person will find something to his or her liking."

Russell said that initially the conference had just been about Linux; it had then grown to cover other open source technologies.

Given this, he said there had been times when there were introductory talks on a subject. These were good for mini-conferences where it did not have to stop with that; there could be more talks delving further into the subject.

But for the conference proper - which starts on Wednesday and features presentations that run for about an hour or slightly less - Russell said it was better to have more depth.

He said the organisers had given the papers committee instructions to this effect and the result was the programme which began on Monday morning at the Australian National University.

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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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