Mark Ashworth, one of the original founders of Linuxfest Northwest, said the conference got its start in 1998 when a small group of people invited a couple of local Unix gurus to discuss forming what became the Bellingham Linux Users Group. "We held our second meeting at Bellingham Technical College (BTC) a month later."
The next year the group held the first Linuxfest at BTC and inviting the community to participate. "One of our members designed posters and T-shirts and we held a small fest that filled a couple of rooms.
"In 2003 we decided to invite user groups in our region to join us in putting on the fest. While blug.org did a lot of local planning the other LUGs provided speakers and got the word out. We invited Jon "maddog" Hall to be our keynote speaker. That [event] was a big success and packed our largest speaking room at the college."
To alleviate the problem of packing everyone into a single room for a presentation, the organizers began to offer simultaneous sessions at subsequent events. That helped, but attendees complained of not being able to see all the presentations they wanted to see. This year, the show has been extended to two days in length, and some of the presentations will be done twice.
Ashworth cites the show's atmosphere as one of its big pluses. "What you will immediately notice at Linuxfest Northwest is a casual atmosphere and functional facilities that were not designed with conventions in mind. The rooms are smaller and the exhibits are located on simple tables. This creates an egalitarian atmosphere that everyone seems to enjoy. The presentations and exhibits are top-notch -- high on technical content and low on marketing content for the most part."
Presentations slated for this year's show include projects and firms such as One Laptop Per Child, Oracle, Google, Novell, Second Life, and the Free Software Foundation. Author Dee-Ann LeBlanc and our own Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier will also present talks.