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SoCal Linux Expo

Started as a small event, the SoCal Linux Expo is gathering steam as open-source gains attention and devotees.

Started as a small event, the SoCal Linux Expo is gathering steam as open-source gains attention and devotees. Orv Beach, spokesperson for the conference, chats about LUGs, getting the word out, and being happy when people are in the hallways.

How did the idea for the Expo get sparked?

As interest in Linux grew in the mid ’90s, groups known as LUGs (“Linux User Groups”) came into being as training and support organizations. An outgrowth of that in the late ’90s was a series of “LUGFests” held in Simi Valley, California. A LUGFest was an event where individuals or groups could show off a particular Linux application program, or perhaps hold a training seminar.

When the dot-com bubble burst, the Nortel office in Simi Valley where the LUGFests had been held closed, and the LUGFests came to an end. However, we felt that there probably was still a need for that type of event in Southern California, and SoCal Linux Expo (SCALE) was born in 2002. When 600 people attended in one day, we knew we were meeting a demand! As a result, SCALE2X will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center, on November 22nd.

What are your hopes for this year’s event?

We set our goal at 25 percent growth over last year’s SCALE. We’re hoping SCALE2X will hit 800 attendees. Last year, the content was about 25 percent commercial vendors’ booths, and about 75 percent presentation booths by LUGs, and other non-profit organizations. That’s what we’re hoping for this year.

What are the largest challenges that you see in putting on the show?

We can always use more sponsors. And getting the word out to the computing community is challenging, but essential. And we always can use more volunteers to help set up the day before, and help during the Expo.

Why do you think there’s a need for open-source right now and in the future?

To start off with, Linux is robust and reliable; uptimes of more than a year are considered unremarkable. For an individual, it’s empowering. You’re no longer locked into proprietary software. You have the choice of determining what software you use on your home computer. You don’t have to worry about spyware, scumware, or other various flavors of “malware” hiding in your computer. Nor do you have to worry about Microsoft viruses, worms and trojan programs; Linux is generally resistant to them. And the fact that Linux and most of the applications that run on it can be had for little or nothing certainly doesn’t hurt.

For corporations, it’s really about risk management. If your company relies on a large, complicated, expensive proprietary software package–or even a small, simple, inexpensive program–you’re at the mercy of the vendor. They decide which bugs are important, and the fact that your company can’t ship product due to a program flaw may or may not be important to them. To make matters worse, if the vendor goes out of business, you’re left with “orphanware” with no support, and no future for bug fixes or enhancements.

What do you like most about the Expo?

For one, the excitement and energy on the Expo floor. We had many comments after SCALE1X from folks who had enjoyed the event, asking when was it going to be held again, and telling us how we needed to find a larger venue. Additionally, we had a number of people well-known in the Open Source community that give seminars at SCALE; the conference rooms were mostly SRO, to the point where the audiences spilled out into the hallways.

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