Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) this year will get some open-source competition, as Linux proponents are planning to hold the first-ever FreedomHEC conference for Linux hardware engineers immediately following WinHEC in Seattle.The first-ever FreedomHEC conference, scheduled to begin the day after WinHEC with free admission for WinHEC attendees, will feature informational sessions about how to make a variety of hardware devices run Linux effectively, according to a Web site about the conference.FreedomHEC organizers also sent an e-mail message about the site to a Linux users mailing list that urged them to "take control of your own destiny and make your hardware valuable to the growing Linux market." The message was also sent to the media."Developers and managers who are planning to attend WinHEC in Seattle this May will be able to stay a little longer for an 'unconference' that covers how to make devices work efficiently with Linux, too," the e-mail said.Pogo Linux Inc. is the host sponsor of FreedomHEC, which is scheduled for May 26-27 at the company's Seattle headquarters at 701 Fifth Ave. WinHEC will take place May 23-35 at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, which is nearby at Seventh and Pike streets.FreedomHEC is the brainchild of former Linux Journal editor-in-chief and well-known Linux community leader Don Marti. Marti, who currently does technical marketing for an IT company, said the conference is aimed at, among other things, dispelling the notion that it is difficult or expensive to build device drivers for Linux."The goal of the conference is to make it as easy as possible for hardware vendors to get new devices supported under Linux," he said."We want to show easy the process is."Marti declined to name the company he works for because it is not currently a sponsor of FreedomHEC. Besides Pogo Linux, computing book publisher No Starch Press and LWN.net, a Linux developer community Web site, are sponsoring the show, according to the FreedomHEC Web site.According to Marti, FreedomHEC will feature tutorials, question-and-answer sessions and other opportunities for hardware engineers to "plug in both technically and community wise" to creating Linux device drivers. The conference also will provide information and how-to sessions about the necessary device-driver APIs (application programming interfaces) for Linux, he said.Featured speakers and educators at FreedomHEC include Greg Kroah-Hartman, a Novell\/SuSE Linux engineer who maintains numerous Linux kernel driver subsystems, and Leann Ogasawara, a member of the Test and Performance group at Open Source Development Labs, according to the conference Web site.A spokesman for Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's public relations firm, said Monday that he did not think the company was aware of FreedomHEC. No one at Microsoft was available for immediate comment.