Sunday, 01 June 2014 09:08

Australian Linux conference 2014 records big loss Featured

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The Australian national Linux conference of 2014, held in Perth in January, looks set to make a loss of nearly $40,000, according to the president of Linux Australia, Joshua Hesketh.

In a long email sent to the organisation's main mailing list, Hesketh said given that Linux Australia depended on the profit from the event to manage its yearly budget of around $60,000, activities this year would have to be curtailed.

However, he pointed out with this scenario in mind, the organisation had over recent years put by cash in the bank, which now totalled in excess of $300,000.

Linux Australia provides the seed money for teams in various parts of the country, or in New Zealand, to organise the event which normally returns sufficient profit for Linux Australia's other events. These include backing a number of other conferences for users of Python, Drupal and WordPress, and making grants to various other causes.

"...we will need to curtail some activities in 2014, such as the amount and quantity of grants that are awarded. There are some costs which cannot be easily reduced, such as the costs for auditing the organisation in line with NSW law," Hesketh wrote.

"Although a loss is forecast, we still have significant equity as an organisation (> $300k), and our future is not in jeopardy. We simply need to 'tighten the belt' for a year."

As to reasons for the loss, Hesketh cited the host city (Perth) as being one where expenses were expected to be higher due to the geographic location and costs. Hiring an events manager meant extra costs.

He said the number of attendees was below the norm and that difficulties were expected with the main venue, leading to a change of dates which meant the conference was held at a less than optimal time. While the conference is normally held in last week of January, occasionally spilling into February, the Perth event was held from January 6 to 10.

"Unfortunately due to poor tracking of the forecast financial state it was not discovered that the conference was heading towards a loss until it was too late. Commitments had been made with suppliers/vendors and non-refundable items purchased. However the Council stands by the fact that it is better to run a linux.conf.au at a loss than not to have a conference," he wrote.

Budget amendments due to this year's loss would be published soon, Hesketh said.

The conference was last held in Perth in 2003. One member of Linux Australia has queried whether this conference made a profit or loss and also what numbers it attracted, both questions Hesketh is yet to answer.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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