April 12, 2002

Ottawa Linux Symposium: Kernel hackers can avoid United States

- By Grant Gross -

Co-organizer Andrew J. Hutton gives two good reasons for the existence of the upcoming Ottawa Linux Symposium: It's not the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, and it's not in the United States.
Hutton, CEO of contract Linux kernel developer Steamballoon Inc., says "several dozen" non-American attendees of OLS have demanded that connecting flights don't land in the United States on the way to Canada, and some have even asked that they don't fly over the United States, just in case they might have to make an unscheduled landing there.

Last July, Linux kernel hacker Alan Cox called for a boycott of U.S. technology conferences because of the attempt to prosecute Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov for alleged violations of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Charges against Sklyarov [but not his company] were eventually dropped, but Hutton says non-American programmers are still concerned about U.S. legal issues, even during a change of planes.

"Anyone who doesn't wish to be under U.S. jurisdiction can come [to OLS], which is a very serious issue for a lot of people," he says.

Another advantage of OLS: it's less of a trade show than LinuxWorld, Hutton says, and more of a gathering of Linux developers. Attendance is limited to 500 people, and if you're interested in attending, it's time to start thinking about making plans for the fourth annual OLS, June 26 to 29 in Ottawa, Ontario. About 40% of the slots are already filled, and May 1 is the deadline for getting the lowest registration price.

"LinuxWorld was pure marketing driven, and it had zero content for the people actually doing the work," Hutton says. "We needed to do something to get them together instead of scaring them away of the idea of any kind of public event. That's the goal -- to get the community together so they don't try to kill each other by email."

The limited attendance encourages speakers and attendees to mingle, Hutton says. "It's really a peer-type conference, not speaking to the masses."

This year, the symposium happens right after a Linux Kernel Summit [co-sponsored by NewsForge/Linux.com corporate parent OSDN] at the same Ottawa venue June 24 and 25. "It's going to make sure that everybody significant to Linux is there, not just 90% of them," Hutton says.

Also worth noting is the number of tutorials and presentations, up from about 36 in 2001 to 61 this year. That's "due to excessive good content being submitted," Hutton says.

"We expect the quality of the audience to go up again, which if you saw the people who were there last year, it's pretty impressive," he adds. "The main obstacle to getting more people out is travel budgets. We're not Silicon Valley, so all sorts of people who would normally take off from work and go have to pay to get here."

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