20 Years of Linux.conf.au [Memoirs]

Memoirs of LCA

On the first night I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand for Linux.conf.au 2019, a group of around a dozen attendees went to dinner. Amongst them were Steve Hanley and Hugh Blemmings, whom I have known since the early 2000’s at various LCAs around the region. They asked for some memoirs of LCA – something small; what follows was my throughts, far longer than expected

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Linux.conf.au 2014: LCA TV

The radio silence here on my blog has been not from lack of activity, but the inverse. Linux.conf.au chewed up the few remaining spare cycles I have had recently (after family and work), but not from organising the conference (been there, got the T-Shirt and the bag). So, let’s do a run through of what has happened…

LCA2014 – Perth – has come and gone in pretty smooth fashion. A remarkable effort from the likes of the Perth crew of Luke, Paul, Euan, Leon, Jason, Michael, and a slew of volunteers who stepped up – not to mention our interstate firends of Steve and Erin, Matthew, James I, Tim the Streaming guy… and others, and our pro organisers at Manhattan Events. It was a reasonably smooth ride: the UWA campus was beautiful, the leacture theatres were workable, and the Octogon Theatre was at its best when filled with just shy of 500 like minded people and an accomplished person gracing the stage.

What was impressive (to me, at least) was the effort of the AV team (which I was on the extreme edges of); videos of keynotes hit the Linux Australia mirror within hours of the event. Recording and live streaming of all keynotes and sessions happend almost flawlessly. Leon had built a reasonably robust video capture management system (eventstreamer – on github) to ensure that people fresh to DVswitch had nothing break so bad it didn’t automatically fix itself – and all of this was monitored from the Operations Room (called the TAVNOC, which would have been the AV NOC, but somehow a loose reference to the UWA Tavern – the Tav – crept in there).

Some 167 videos were made and uploaded – most of this was also mirrored on campus before th end of the conference so attendees could load up their laptops with plenty of content for the return trip home. Euan’s quick Blender work meant there was a nice intro and outro graphic, and Leon’s scripting ensured that Zookeepr, the LCA conference manegment software, was the source of truth in getting all videos processed and tagged correctly.

I was scheduled (and did give) a presentation at LCA 2014 – about Debian on Amazon Web Services (on Thursday), and attended as many of the sessions as possible, but my good friend Michael Davies (LCA 2004 chair, and chair of the LCA Papers Committee for a good many years) had another role for this year. We wanted to capture some of the ‘hallway track’ of Linux.conf.au that is missed in all the videos of presentations. And thus was born… LCA TV.

LCA TV consisted of the video equipment for an additional stream – mixer host, cameras, cables and switches, hooking into the same streaming framework as the rest of the sessions. We took over a corner of the registration room (UWA Undercroft), brought in a few stage lights, a couch, coffee table, seat, some extra mics, and aimed to fill the session gaps with informal chats with some of the people at Linux.conf.au – speakers, attendees, volunteers alike. And come they did. One or two interviews didn’t succeed (this was an experiment), but in the end, we’ve got over 20 interviews with some interesting people. These streamed out live to the people watching LCA from afar; those unable to make it to Perth in early January; but they were recorded too… and we can start to watch them… (see below)

I was also lucky enough to mix the video for the three keynotes as well as the opening and closing, with very capable crew around the Octogon Theatre. As the curtain came down, and the 2014 crew took to the stage to be congratulated by the attendees, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit proud and a touch nostalgic… memories from 11 years earlier when LCA 2003 came to a close in the very same venue.

So, before we head into the viewing season for LCA TV, let me thank all the volunteers who organised, the AV volunteers, the Registration volunteers, the UWA team who helped with Octogon, Networking, awesome CB Radios hooked up to the UWA repeated that worked all the way to the airport. Thanks to the Speakers who submitted proposals. The Speakers who were accepted, made the journey and took to the stage. The people who attended. The sponsors who help make this happen. All of the above helps share the knowledge, and ultimately, move the community forward. But my thanks to Luke and Paul for agreeing to stand there in the middle of all this… madness and hive of semi structured activity that just worked.

Please remember this was experimental; the noise was the buzz of the conference going on around us. There was pretty much only one person on the AV kit – my thanks to Andrew Cooks who I’ll dub as our sound editor, vision director, floor manager, and anything else. So who did we interview?

  • Alan Robertson (Assim Proj)
  • Arjen Lentz (twice – well, two topics!)
  • Daniel (A student at LCA for the first time)
  • Dave Chinner (XFS)
  • Erin Walsh (Rego desk manager)
  • Jason Nicholls (AV Director LCA 2014)
  • Jeremy Kerr (Kernel Developer)
  • Jessica Smith (Astronomy Mini Conf)
  • Jono Oxer (Audosat)
  • Karen Sandler (Gnome)
  • Keith Packard (X) and BDale Garbee (Freedom Box, Debian)
  • Kevin Vinsen (ICRAR, Square Kilometer Array)
  • Lennart Poettering (SystemD)
  • Linus Torvalds (Yet another Kernel Developer)
  • Matthew Wilcox (Another Kernel dev, and a Debian Dev as well)
  • Michael Still (OpenStack)
  • Paul Weyper (Canberra Linus Users Group)
  • Paul Wise (Debian)
  • Pia Waugh (Open Government)
  • Rusty Russel (Yet another Kernel Developer! Oh, and started LCA in 1999)

One or two talks did not work, so appologies to those that are missing. Here’s the playlist to start you off! Enjoy.

LCA 2013

LCA Past Organisers
Previous core organisers of Linux.conf.au, taken at Mt Stromolo Observatory during LCA 2013 (pic by Josh Stewart); except one of these people organised CALU, and another hasn’t organised one at all!

Thanks to all the people at LCA2013 in Canberra; it was a blast! So good to see old friends and chat freely on what’s hot and happening. Radia (known for STP, TRILL), Sir Tim (the web) and old friend Bdale (Debian, SPI, Freedom Box) were inspiring. As was Robert Llewellyn (Kryten, Red Dwarf), who was a complete pleasure — he wandered back and talked for a while with the volunteer video crew.

Hats off to Pia for organising the TBL tour, to Mary Gardner for being awarded the Rusty Wrench, and to the team from PLUG (Euan, Jason, Leon, Luke) who stepped up to help with the video team – and to Paul who graciously accepted the help.

Next up – LCA2014 – Perth! Y’all come back now.. it’s been a decade.