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Fosscon 2013 Wrap-up

This past weekend MJ and I traveled to our old home city of Philadelphia to attend Fosscon. It was great to see that this year attendance doubled over the previous year and topped out over 300.

The keynote was given by Jordan Miller who works on bioengineering at Rice University. He spoke on how he was drawn to the open source community through hardware projects that could help with the work he was doing, specifically work with the RepRap maker community to use the inexpensive 3D printer to start printing sugar-based scaffolding for the creation of skin and veins and eventually more complex organs! It was really exciting to hear about this work and I think everyone wanted to go home and print some livers afterwards. I think most rewarding for me though was his commitment to Doing Open Source Right and stressing that it’s “not a checkbox but a philosophy.” He wrapped up by discussing the newly launched AMRI: Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute (see blog post about it here) where they seek to “provide breakthrough mentorship, infrastructure, and research funding for promising young makers to pursue their interests using the scientific method.” Cool.

My talk directly followed Jordan’s in the main room. It was very similar to the one I gave at OSCON but modified slightly to stress the Open Source way in which we do Systems Administration rather than focusing too much on code review. The audience was delightfully engaging and I had some great chats about OpenStack and the specific tools we use after I finished the talk. Slides are up here: Open Source Systems Administration.

I then attended Dru Lavigne’s talk on the features of FreeNAS 9.1. We’ll be building a couple of file servers at home in the near future and FreeNAS is a contender for what system we use to manage it. She did a quick overview of the coolness of ZFS and I was delighted to hear about some of the UI improvements to help users use more resilient disk array setups.

For lunch I met up with LaMaia who contacted me several weeks ago about PhillyChix (which we may revive!) and several other women we snagged in the lobby to do a women in FOSS lunch. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to meet up with Leslie Birch for this lunch, but we managed to meet up later in the day for a discussion she mentions in her FOSSCON Field Notes!

Lunch ran a bit late and I came in late to John Ashmead’s fun and interesting talk on Invisibility Theory & Practice. I enjoyed the vanishing cat. I stuck around that room for Chris Nehren’s talk Devs and Admins Sitting in a Tree but the talk was really directed toward developers hoping to make their sysadmins happier, with the only real advice for systems folks being to learn some coding and make sure you monitor things.

I quickly stopped for the essential Oreo Cake (thanks again, jedijf!) before heading off to Brent Saner’s talk on the mesh networking project he’s working on in Philadelphia called Project.Phree. They have lofty goals that include recycling of hardware and community building so it will be interesting to see where it goes as he reaches out to more geek-types to get support and contributors.

My day wrapped up by going to a talk by my friend and Fosscon co-founder Christina Simmons on Starting, Building, and Managing Your Open Source Event/Project. The work put in to event and project management in FOSS absolutely deserves more attention and she put together an excellent presentation drawing from her extensive experience in event planning and then applying it to the work they’ve done with Fosscon. This stuff isn’t as easy as intuitive as you might think, and in my early days of planning one-off events I sure would have liked to have known more! Plus, how awesome is it that I was at a FOSS conference sitting next to my Maid of Honor while one of my Bridesmaids gave a presentation? We are some seriously awesome chix.

After event party was hosted by Github at a nearby pub where we enjoyed drinks and good company.

Huge thanks to the Fosscon organizers for putting together such an enjoyable conference. It was a lot of fun and always great to visit so many of my Philly friends again!

More photos from the event here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157635045154436/