Cartoon of Penguin on top of a map of the state of Ohio with the word FEST in front of it

The Ohio Linux Fest (OLF) will be at the Ohio Convention Center this October 12-13. OLF is like a Comfest for people who love computers, and specifically the free software known as GNU/Linux (winks at Richard Stallman).

OLF is also for people who prefer the term open-source, work at corporations and just call it Linux. If you didn't get the point of distinction, I could spend this article explaining the distinctions between copy-left, copyright, MIT vs. BSD and GPL 2 v 3 and you would probably not have any better idea of why you should care. So instead just take my word for it that there are good reasons for people who work with technology to care about these things and read on.

OLF certainly caters to people who are already familiar with Linux and know what a kernel is, but it is also a kid friendly community event. If you are Linux curious you will still find a lot to learn with various introductory sessions that will hold your hand while introducing you to new concepts.

A few of these sessions include a "History of Linux," "Beginner Linux for the Autodidact" and "A gentle introduction to Git." For those of you with kids there is a session called "Getting kids involved with computing" where you can learn some tips on how to get your kids not just playing games but building them.

If you have no idea what Linux is, and you are afraid of Google (they are watching), it is the software that runs behind the scenes on almost everything from the servers that feed your social media to the smartphone you consume the endless stream of information about your friends’ meals on. It is a different sort of software because of the revolutionary concept of sharing.

This undermined a potential world where Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would control every computer. Linux silently subverted the entire corporate paradigm during the late 90s and early 2000s and festivals like Ohio Linux Fest are institutions of the community that makes all of this possible.

The corporate tech world in general has been paying lip service to the idea that they are trying to create a more diverse and welcoming environment for people who don't fit the stereotypical techie. On this note, both keynote speakers starting and ending this OLF are women. Bridget Kromhout, a cloud developer advocate at Microsoft, will be talking about the social aspects of making computers work with her talk "Containers will not fix your broken culture (and other hard truths)." Elizabeth K. Joseph, an author and systems engineer, will be presenting on “Open Source and the Revolution of Software Testing.” The fact that Microsoft now has specifically worked to integrate Linux into Windows for developers shows how far Linux has come in terms of liberating the world.

If you register before the festival at ohiolinux.org you can name your own price and gain access to the festival. Beyond the various sessions there is also a vendor fair where you can meet some of the organizations that benefit from and help co-create the grand ecosystem of Linux. They also sometimes give out squeezy stress-balls emblazoned with corporate logos that you can squeeze instead of smashing whatever piece of technology has made you mad, now that computers are now the dominant form of communication. In fact these sort of face-to-face events are essential for building friendships and even the most hardcore computer enthusiasts realize the value of sharing space with each other IRL.

Disclaimer: I will be presenting at 2:00pm at Ohio Linux Fest on LibreTime - the radio station automation system that powers stations such as Radio614 & WCRS-LP. It's an open-source project so people all around the world use it to run their radio stations for free.

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