Fedora at LinuxFest NorthWest

Fedora at LinuxFest NorthWest

Fedora represented the theme of this year’s LinuxFest NorthWest, The Mechanics of Freedom, with the Fedora Security Lab and diceware passphrases. LinuxFest NorthWest is an annual Open Source event in Bellingham, Washington.  There is something for everyone from novices to professionals featuring presentations and exhibits on F/OSS topics, Linux distributions and applications.

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are becoming even more integrated in our lives. With these changes comes concern over the trade-offs between convenience and privacy such as; privacy in the age of relentless online tracking; how bots can help you onboard new community members; training driverless vehicles; and how the Internet of Things took down DNS.

Fedora featured the Fedora Security Lab for the Mechanics of Freedom, a safe test environment for security auditing, forensics, system rescue and teaching security testing methodologies. The Fedora Security Lab spin is maintained by a community of security testers and developers. It’s customized menu provides all the tools needed for security testing, rescuing a broken system, and teaching the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual.

Fedora offered LinuxFest NorthWest attendees a Mechanics of Freedom experience by rolling a diceware passphrase. Our guests rolled four dice, five times (or five dice, four times).  Then they used the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) word lists to lookup the random passphrase words.

LinuxFest NorthWest Booth Setup

Jeff Fitzmaurice and I arrived Friday afternoon to setup the booth. The new Fedora table cover looks great and booth setup went quick with our plan. OpenSUSE marked a path to their booth with green tape, then to our booth with blue tape and orange tape to Ubuntu.  We used the OLPC to demonstrate Fedora Loves Python, with Pippy, Sugar and Fedora Remix OS. The booth was ready to just hit the on switch Saturday morning.  We had time to meet and help other exhibitors and relax before game night.

Jeff Fitzmaurice with the Fedora booth set up for LinuxFest NorthWest

Jeff ‘Steelaworkn’ Fitzmaurice with the booth set up

Friday night game party is a LinuxFest NorthWest tradition that Red Hat and Fedora has sponsored in the past. This year’s budget constraints left me free to play games (Exploding Kittens) and catch up with friends I only see once a year.  LinuxFest NorthWest provided games, pizza and Boundary Bay beverages to the packed hall.

Diceware Passphrase

LinuxFest NorthWest presentations used ten rooms for the five tracks of Security, Infrastructure, Humans, Code and General Interest.  Each track featuring sessions for both experts and newcomers or learners.  Adam Williamson presented Fedora: where we are and where we’re going to a full room.   LinuxFest NorthWest is growing with about 2000 attendees on Saturday and most presentations reached the room limit.  Attendees stopped by the Fedora table all day to ask Adam more questions.

A booth visitor records dice rolls and looks up words their diceware passphrase.

A young guest records their diceware passphrase.

We asked booth visitors to roll dice to create a pass phrase and received various reactions. Some guests recognized the XKCD passphrase cartoon and were excited to participate, many were curious and rolled for fun, and some were reluctant which resulted in a conversation about passwords and security. At the extremes one guest questioned the randomness of the dice.  Then another guest told us that their group admin insists on diceware passphrases and asked for one of the EFF word lists.

Fedora kernel developer Laura Abbott answered many technical questions on Saturday. I really appreciate her presence, when someone started asking an alphabet soup question she would step in with a response. She lost her voice answering questions and left before the “World Famous” raffle.  Laura also contributes articles about the kernel to the Fedora Magazine.

A room full of trivia teams warming up for the LinuxFest NorthWest trivia contest

Trivia teams warming up for the contest

The Saturday night trivia contest is another LinuxFest NorthWest tradition.  Thanks to more good food and Boundary Bay beer, the hall was packed .  About 30 teams participated in the trivia contest. The best team name award went to, Sparkle Fish Rainbow Corn, sounded like a diceware passphrase. The trivia contest winning team, Unholy Alliance, included Adam Williamson from Fedora and Sean Marlow from SUSE.  The LinuxFest NorthWest judges were kept busy because the top four teams were separated by one point.

The fabulous LinuxFest NorthWest trivia judging crew checks entries and records the scores

The fabulous LinuxFest NorthWest trivia judging crew

Fedora Security Lab

Sunday is a little slower at LinuxFest NorthWest as some visitors just come for the day from Seattle or Vancouver and others were recovering from the all night hacker/gamer rooms. I had a chance to visit some other exhibitors. LinuxFest NorthWest featured a job fair this year and some recruiters also sponsored a booth. There was a lot to see with representatives from applications (MySQL, Clonezilla), publishers (No Starch Press, Jupiter Broadcasting, Pearson InformIT), hardware (System76, Think Penguin), initiatives (Open Source, Snowdrift.coop, Mifos, Geeks Without Bounds, LOT Network, Crowd Supply), robotics (Seamonsters, Bellingham Robotics, The Foundary), schools (Bellingham Technical, Whatcom Community, NW Indian College), user groups (GSLUG, Women in Computing, SeaPUG, LOPSA, BTC Engineering) and others.

LinuxFest NorthWest visitors talk about Fedora Security Lab and and create diceware passphrases

Jeff talks with a guest while others roll dice

We had Fedora Security Lab running from a USB drive. A few security enthusiasts took Fedora Security Lab for a spin and we discussed the features. Users can modify the live version and one guest installed their favorite program, wireshark, to test this feature. We showed the Hacker Highschool workbooks to discuss teaching security methods and how Fedora Security Lab is used to protect systems in Tibet. And we gave away a few Fedora Security Lab USB drives to attendees who expressed an interest with their questions and comments.

I planned to use the Raspberry Pi as a kiosk to collect guest information as we did at SeaGL last year but my flask programming skills prevented that from happening.  The QR code reader was working to scan the contact info from the LinuxFest NorthWest badge.  We showed a Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black anyway and some guests talked to us about running Fedora on ARM servers.  A Seattle startup and exhibitor, Resin.io, showed us their implementation of Docker to manage code on a fleet of embedded Linux devices.

Packing up

Using an activity makes Fedora a popular booth at LinuxFest NorthWest. 160 visitors received a Fedora Logo dice for creating a diceware passphrase.  Also 40 visitors received dice for their extended conversation about Fedora. We gave away a box of Fedora 25 media and many stickers. It was fun helping guests make their passphrase and talking about Fedora.

Fedora Security Lab made a great theme for a booth. I’ll follow up with why and what I learned about Fedora Security Lab, and also how to create materials for a exhibit, engage the guests at an table, plan and setup a booth.

Fedora Logo Dice

Fedora Logo Dice

Categories: Ambassadors, Events

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  1. Can you tell me more about how you are using the OLPC to show Fedora Loves Python? How was that received?

    Who took DVDs at the booth? Was it apparent they had a use for the DVD itself or were they taking it as a memory point so they could remember to download Fedora later?

  2. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a great story of Python success. Most of the OLPC applications and the Sugar desktop are written in Python. Pippy is a Python programming learning environment with lots of short programs to demo. You can explain the simple programs to non-programmers and programmers can try quick changes. The little green computer attracts visitors to the table and they are not afraid to touch it. And the OLPC is the largest installation base of Fedora (remix) in the world.

    We also had the Fedora Loves Python trifold to discuss Fedora’s use of Python for infrastructure, our efforts on Python 3 conversion, and all of our the Fedora resources for Python developers. And we talked about the Python Classroom Lab spin due for F26. I want to feature Python Classroom Lab at SeaGL in October.

    I like using the OLPC in Fedora exhibits but couldn’t think of a good way to demonstrate Security with it. Joerg had Fedora Security Lab running on the OLPC but he didn’t have an image available. I had some leftover Fedora Loves Python trifolds, pins and t-shirts so I showed Pippy on the OLPC.

    I can’t say why people took DVDs. With 2000 visitors we have given away over 2 boxes in the past. Some said they wanted a copy for a friend. Some said they wanted to try the Live version or check out Gnome. A few Ubuntu users commented about switching. I think some just wanted a Fedora souvenir asking “Is this free?”. Finally some commented that they don’t have an optic drive and do you have a USB drive version. LFNW is always right before the next version release so we get the leftover DVDs before they spoil.

  3. Great achievement with Pippy. I love it. Oh, and by the way, those Fedora dices are really beautiful! Where can I buy some?

    • Hi Gianluca, these were special-ordered by the North American Ambassadors by a vendor. We might have some leftover, but otherwise, if you are an Ambassador, you could bring this up as a swag idea in your region. 🙂

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