LinuxFest NorthWest: A community-driven Linux fest of power

The annual LinuxFest Northwest should be a model for community-driven events around the world.

This last weekend was LinuxFest Northwest – the annual community-run Linux festival in Bellingham, Washington. And it was truly spectacular.

[Full disclaimer: I love nerd conventions. I love them. Comic Book conventions. Tech conferences. Video Game fests. There's something amazing about being surrounded by hundreds (often thousands) of fellow nerds – all brought together around a common, nerdy topic.]

LinuxFest Northwest has been one of my favorite festivals for a few years now. And, I do believe, that this year the organizers have managed to kick it up to my current No. 1 spot. It's hard to pin down any single thing that made this year’s LinuxFest NW so excellent. It was really a matter of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Could it have been the over 1,500 Linux-loving people in attendance? Being surrounded by so many people with common interests (both hobby-level and professionals) is a truly empowering thing – the opportunity for networking is off the charts. But, perhaps even more importantly, it's just nice to be among “your people” sometimes, you know? It certainly gives me the warm fuzzies.

The sessions of LinuxFest NW provided some amazing and informative content. The only complaint I had during the entire festival...was that there was simply too much content, too many great speeches, session and hands-on labs going on to enjoy them all. Sessions on topics like IPv6, UEFI and Mobile Chrome Apps filled the schedule. [This is also the venue where I give my annual “Linux Sucks” presentation.]

The expo floor of “LFNW” (as folks tend to call it) is small when compared to many bigger, corporate-sponsored conferences. But there was still excellent representation from everyone from the EFF to Microsoft, from Red Hat to SUSE. And everyone got along. At LinuxFest everyone is one big, happy family.

Oh, and the party! My goodness do Linux nerds know how to throw a good bash. They rented out an electricity museum and proceeded to – I kid you not – blast a couple people with 4 million volts from a 9-foot-tall Tesla coil (with the people safely inside a man-sized Faraday cage). I think there was an open bar and food... but I can't really remember. Things got a little hazy after the Tesla coil zapped me in the face (that's bucket list material right there).

Did I mention that the entire event is free to attend? I realize, at this point, that this is starting to sound like a bit of an advertisement for this festival. But, here's the thing, it is truly great. Bordering on fantastic. I can't help but gush a bit. What these guys (and gals) do should be a model for community-driven events around the world.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go tell at least 50 more people that I was blasted with a 9-foot-tall Tesla Coil before I can go to bed.

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