LCA, the event that was


Linux Conf Australia 2013, (alias linux.conf.au, alias LCA) was an amazing experience, and it’s difficult to summarise it succinctly, but there are definitely some highlights and important take-aways that I’d like to make special note of.

My fundamental reason for attending was that Ben Kero and I were invited to do a talk regarding Puppet (an important infrastructural tool that we use at Mozilla).  The talk, like all of the presentations given by Mozillians at LCA this year (and there were more than a few), was very well-received, and delivered to a packed auditorium – in fact, people had to be turned away at the door beforehand !

Since our talk bumped up against the lunch period, we had occasion to stay in the space and launch an informal panel discussion that included other Mozillians as well as representatives from a number of other Open Source companies and organisation.  We engaged on a variety of topics, ranging from IT-centric to questions about the future of the web, and the importance of open standards and market competition.  It was only when the organisers forced us out that the auditorium was finally cleared.

Interestingly, from the moment I arrived in Australia, and through until the very last day, I found myself acting as an ambassador for Mozilla.

For example, a day before the conference even started, I was part of an informal debate concerning the future of mobile and the importance of FirefoxOS within it.  Other participants included a Ubuntu employee and a number of hardware hackers who – as it turned out – were already trying to port FirefoxOS to other types of phones.

Another example even occurred at a local cricket match.  I was wearing my Firefox T-shirt (which usually generates interest), and ended up doing a some impromptu demos of Firefox for Android to a couple of different groups – the highly satisfying result was that a handful of people downloaded and installed it on the spot !

These, and more, are all opportunities to engage people about Mozilla, and in many cases, to introduce our values and mission to entirely new audiences.  During this and other conferences, I’ve found that even long-time users of Firefox and Thunderbird (for example) are often not even aware of who and what Mozilla is, and what we’re about.  I try my best to be a good ambassador, and I’m proud to represent the organisation wherever, and whenever I can.

From a personal perspective, the conference had two major benefits: it was an excellent learning experience, and a fantastic opportunity to spend time in-person with a number of my co-workers in the IT/Ops team.

Of note, I had the pleasure of attending a number of talks and presentations about technology that we use in our environment that have had a direct impact in my work-flow already.  Beyond the directly-applicable benefits, I was particularly inspired by a presentation about programming for embedded devices (shout-out to Bunnie Huang) which, due to peculiar technical constraints, requires a very precise and measured approach to development.  These ideals could – and should – be carried through outside of the embedded world.

In summary, LCA 2013 was an excellent opportunity to learn, teach, and engage the public concerning technology in specific, Mozilla in particular, and open source in general.  I’m already looking forward to next year !

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