Dive into the world of Linux and free software at SCALE 12x this weekend in Los Angeles

The free-software world converges on Los Angeles this weekend, Feb. 21-23, 2014, for SCALE 12x, the Southern California Linux Expo at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

The Friday-Sunday convention welcomes users of the free Linux computer operating system that powers everything from servers and supercomputers to desktops, laptops, smartphones and toasters (and just about everything with a computer controlling it).

And it’s not just Linux. SCALE offers talks by experts as well as booths staffed volunteers from other Unix operating-system derivatives such as FreeBSD and OpenBSD, and offers sessions on the latest cloud-computing technologies, database software projects PostgreSQL, MySQL and MariaDB, programming languages that include Python, Perl, Ruby and Javascript.

If you’ve ever wanted to know just about anything about running a server but were afraid to ask, SCALE is the place to get all the answers and more.

The show is thick with enthusiasts who come hear talks about the latest in free and open technology and meet in the exhibit hall with representatives from open-source software projects and the companies that build their businesses on them.

At SCALE 12x you can meet the people behind companies and projects of all sizes, from one-person development teams to corporations as big as IBM, which always shows off its new Linux-running hardware at the show.

To get a sense of what to look for at SCALE 12x, I asked two of the show???s volunteers, publicity chair Larry Cafiero and community relations chair Gareth J. Greenaway, what they were looking forward to at the show and what they recommend first-time attendees do when they get to the hotel.

???I am looking forward to another year of seeing the people that make this a great show – more than 90 speakers, more than 100 exhibitors and all the volunteers on the SCALE team that make this the fantastic show it has become in a dozen years,??? Cafiero said.

???In a way it’s like NASCAR, which has their biggest race first, and the rest of the season follows. SCALE is the largest community-run Linux/open-source show, and it sets the tone for the rest of the year.???

All the sweat that goes into putting SCALE together pays off when he sees the results.

???As an all-volunteer, community-run show, it’s a lot of work, but it’s beyond worth the effort to see people ???get it??? – the light bulb before the ???a ha!??? moment – when they learn something new, or when newcomers learn more about how their computers work with open-source software,??? Cafiero said.

What advice does Cafiero give to first-time SCALE attendees?

???One of the speakers, Deb Nicholson, said it best in her speaker interview: ???You honestly could not choose a better first event! Everyone is welcome at SCALE. There’s stuff for kids, beginners, experts, activists, job-seekers – really and truly everyone. Plus, you can’t beat the weather. (It’s snowing at home … again.)??????

For Greenaway, the show itself is the reward for his volunteer efforts.

???What I’m looking forward to this year is what I look forward to every year – that moment when things first kick off Friday and Saturday morning, and all our hard work comes together.

???Being able to stand back and watch the show come together is an amazing feeling. I’m also looking forward to seeing friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since last year.???

He says that a smartphone app and a guided tour can help new SCALE attendees get the most out of the show.

???Definitely download the Guidebook application (available for most smartphones and tablets). (It offers) a quick glance at the available sessions, and when and where they’ll be taking place. I???d also encourage any new attendees to take one of the FOSS (free and open-source-software) Tours of the SCALE exhibitor hall. With over 100 exhibitors, the exhibit hall can be a little overwhelming. The guided tours help new attendees and those unfamiliar with certain exhibitors the ability to learn a bit about them and go back for more interaction later.???

While there are sessions on the Friday, including tracks dedicated to the Ubuntu Linux operating system, various databases and the development/system-administration combination known as DevOps, the show really gets going at 9 p.m. that night with Harvard Law School professor and free-culture/free-software advocate Lawrence Lessig’s opening keynote, ???Only You Can Get This, So Where Are You????

So you want to go? A pass to the exhibit hall at SCALE 12x is only $10, and a full pass to all the speaker tracks – there are up to nine talks going on simultaneously – is $70. Get your pass on the web site, or at the show itself. The Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel is at 5711 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles.

Steven Rosenberg

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