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Why you should go to a Linux event

Linux Fest North West was such a learning experience that everyone involved with Linux should look for similar events.

Every spring I make a pilgrimage up to Bellingham, Washington, for Linux Fest NorthWest. It's a great little, community driven event all about Linux. Okay. "Little" is the wrong word. This last weekend, Linux Fest NorthWest broke 1,500 attendees – their biggest attendance to date. That's over a thousand Linux nerds hanging out, attending sessions, going to tutorials and eating good food.

And the sessions were just spectacular. Lots of great, educational topics (ranging from photo editing to rolling your own backup solutions), and even a forum chaired by representatives from the ACLU and EFF. (And me, presenting my annual “Why Linux Sucks” and “Why Linux Doesn't Suck” presentations. Videos and slides available here.)

Oh, and thanks to their sponsors (such as openSUSE and Dice), the conference is completely free to attend. You just pay for your own gas to get there. Solidly good deal.

But, perhaps Bellingham, WA, is a bit too far of a journey for you. Luckily, there are other, absolutely spectacular Linux events around North America that I heartily recommend.

SCALE (The Southern California Linux Expo) took place in Los Angeles back in February. So you've missed it. Luckily, it happens every year, so plan ahead for 2014. SCALE, itself, is similar in size to Linux Fest NW and is a solid destination, with some great speakers every year.

If you're looking for something a little sooner, Ohio LinuxFest is going to be taking place from September 13 through 15 this year. And, you guessed it, its held in Ohio. Columbus to be exact. I've never been to Ohio Linux Fest, but word on the street is it’s quite good.

Now, some of you may have never had the opportunity to attend a Linux Fest/Conference before, and may not know what to expect. Here's my top reasons why I make it a point to attend at least one, community-driven conference every year:

  1. Networking. And not just with Linux developers. These events give us the opportunity to rub elbows with hiring managers, artists and marketing folk. Want to get ahead in the Linux and Open Source world? This is how you do it.
  2. Learning. I learn something new every show. Sometimes it's about a new tool. Sometimes it's a bash scripting trick I hadn't thought of before. Knowledge is power. (This also helps if you need to convince your company to pay for your trip.)
  3. A feeling of community. How many of you are Linux users who work in a primarily Windows shop? Feeling a bit isolated and lonely? Come. Spend a weekend hanging out (and eating burgers with) a thousand people just like you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a nap to recover from Linux Fest. Man, I tell ya. Linux nerds know how to party...

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