Ambassadors Report for Southeast Linux Fest -Ben and Cathy Williams, Andrew and Julie Ward, Rosnel Echervarria, and Nick Bebout
Southeast Linux Fest June 8 – 10, 2018, Charlotte North Carolina
The annual event reached its historical 10 year mark this year. Southeast Linux Fest has been one of the most successful and long running events when it comes to Linux and only is topped by Scale and Linux Fest Northwest. Southeast Linux Fest (SELF) an event that is held at the Sheraton Airport Hotel Charlotte North Carolina. This event was centralized to accommodate attendance (easy access from Airport) from many of the surrounding states. We saw many individuals from the Tennessee, Georgia (Atlanta/Macon area), South Carolina, and Florida, as well as the local attendees from the Charlotte area and the state of North Carolina.
Event Goals from the desk of Southeast Linux Fest Coordinator
Discussing the primary goal of this event with the Coordinator (of Southeast Linux Fest), the target was to draw from the surrounding southern states. The secondary goal was opening the event to everyone interested in learning about free and open source software. Later in this report we will discuss some of the feedback given to the Coordinator about Southeast Linux Fest.
Friday, 8 June 2018 Day One
Fedora attendance was strong this year with 6 Ambassadors, three of which played a significant role in contributions to the event. Day one of the event began on Friday 8 June at 9 a.m. The morning setup started at 730 a.m. with four ambassadors, Ben and Cathy Williams, Andrew and Julie Ward. Between the four of us we got the booth set up rather quickly. Registration for the event began at 8 a.m. with attendees already at our booth prior to the first talk that morning. Nick Bebout shortly arrived at the booth after 8 30 a.m. to start lending a hand. The event really did not get busy until after the first keynote speaker to start off the event. Nick gave and excellent talk on SSH Authentication using GPG smart cards that was opposite of the keynote.
Meanwhile in-between the talks we remained busy at the booth talking about the features included in Workstation release 28. I had built a small video presentation that included the new features with the latest release. It also included a section showcasing Atomic and Server with some of the features include there as well. One individual did notice the Modularity feature and asked how that worked. It peaked his interest in the distribution and was very happy to download the software. As the morning progressed on, the table became busier as more people checked in or registered. Fedora was the first stop after the check-in registration.
A very strategic advantage for us. Since everyone entering the event got to see our booth first. The first day there were some sponsors that had not arrived yet such as Linode and My SQL. This did prove to be a vantage point for Fedora. Also that morning Cathy Williams ran the program Fiber track for those significant others that attended the event gave an opportunity for alternative events. I believe that this is an excellent way for those others that only attend to support their significant partner given an activity while their partner is involved with talks and events related to FOSS.
As the day went on we noticed that visitors at the booth became more interested in Workstation and its features. I found it very easy to discuss the GNOME desktop environment and its capabilities. I did receive many questions on how the desktop updated the installed software. As we discovered the interested individuals were not aware how easy the software could be updated. I was surprised with individuals that were also expert Linux users were not aware of the features included and how the software updates were accomplished in Fedora.
The expert level enthusiasts all new how to use terminal, but a surprising number of them didn’t know that GNOME would also update the installed software. The experts that visited us did use Fedora at one point, but for some reason got away from the distribution, and were impressed that the feature was available. I did point out for those Novice folks that are new to Linux would find this quite useful in a desktop environment until they became proficient in typing command lines in terminal. I found this also useful with the novice individual that did show up at the booth looking for an operating system to replace their current windows environment.
The two major selling points I made were that the software updates were easy to perform and the loaded applications were an excellent start for a windows replacement. Since comes as a primary package installed, Libre Office’s editing power easily out performs the MS Office capabilities. I also pointed out that not only is Libre Office a powerful tool, the GNOME desktop environment is very user friendly and can be easily modified to fit the needs of the user with some tools that are currently available. I also point out the software installer offers a wide variety of applications that can be installed and used almost immediately once the software can be launch. The afternoon was steady and busy at the table. Ben and Nick were busy taking registration forms for the Amateur radio license program.
While Julie and I continued to talk about the advantages of Workstation. There were many good talks happing in the afternoon, and the crowd began to increase until the last talk of the day. We wrapped up at 5 30 p.m. with a good feeling that we accomplished what we set forth to do.
Saturday, 9 June Day Two
The second day (June 9th) started at about the same time for us, approximately 7 45 a.m. with Ben, Julie, and Ross (our ambassador who just arrived from Miami Florida) to help out. Ross made our ambassadors six strong. That morning we saw a few returning attendees and a long line of new registering attendees. Ben and Nick again were setting up with the amateur radio license exams completing the final registration process. Just the night before both Ben and Nick held a cram session to aid in the exam, with the exam scheduled later in the evening, it started to become quite busy at our table.
The always ever so popular OLPC raised a significant amount of questions and amazement, the unit seems to capture they eye of almost everyone that stops by. The interesting point that we discuss with the OLPC is what the operating system is. That basis we demonstrate the versatility and functionality of Workstation. The currently set up with the latest version of Workstation. This enabled a thorough demonstration of the features associated Workstation. There were a few individuals that did ask for a copy of SOAS along with Workstation which we gladly provided. We did field some technical questions about modularity and what the benefits were, in turn I think we answered the questions to their satisfaction. I asked if they would like a copy of server provided from us, but they already had the software and were preparing to load once they left the conference.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was one man who was fed up with his computer (windows) and wasn’t sure where to go and what to do. This person was also a small business man that needed just the basic in applications. He needed to be able to check email, order items for his business, and be able to complete various small office functions. Demonstrating Workstation on the Think Pad to this individual became surprised how easy it was to use and was practically virus free. He gladly picked up a disk of Workstation and told us thank you for the assistance. This is what made the whole trip worthwhile. Helping one person overcome the fear of switching operating systems to Fedora is what I am proud to accomplish as well as everyone at the Fedora Table.
The day began to wind down and lots of our swag was moving quickly, we were all anxious to wrap up the day. Our last event the Amateur Radio license exam currently scheduled immediately following the keynote talk (another late night).
Sunday, 10 June Day Three;
Day three has been historically full of talks and most of the vendors pack up and have leave the area. We set up by 9 am that morning, and quickly noticed there was a different crowd of attendees altogether. Usually we see the same individuals on Saturday as we do on Sunday. Event talks scheduled until 3:45pm and begin to wind down for everyone in attendance. Fedora remained strong for all three days with full support of attendees and promoting our product. I am confident that this year we made a specific impact on the community with regards to workstation.
By covering all of the products features and some that are not as prevalent as others I believe the impact was substantial. USB keys were available only for those individuals that showed any vested interest in the product, and spent valuable time asking questions about Workstation. I had some left over from a couple of years ago that I loaded with Workstation 28 for distribution. As you will see in the data collected that there is a significant drop in media on DVD formats. Prepared to accommodate those who requested media on DVDs by giving out USB keys with Workstation loaded decreased the number of DVD products by one third.
Also, with respect to surveys, we found it extremely hard to have individuals fill out the forms. Determining whether surveys should be electronic or paper collecting data about the event and experiences seems to make some uncomfortable. There were great comments from those individuals that did fill out the forms. Available data collected from the event surveys is detailed below.
(Upon Request only)
|Amateur Radio License Exams||Number of Examinees||Technician
|22 Exams Administered|
The surveys will be provided via separate correspondence attached to this report. With respect to the questions we had a wide range of answers in all areas. The first question was how did you learn about Fedora. The responses varied from relatives, to Red Hat and some in the early days for Fedora Core. The second question was to get a feel of how many were actually using the product, with the answer of three out of the twelve surveys taken have not used Fedora. Question three was regarding the experience at our booth, all of which were very good and no negative comments. The forth question was regarding experience level of the user, this ranged from novice and hobbyist to expert. The last question revealed a 7 out of 12 surveys collected desired involvement with Fedora.
In summary, the event proved to be very successful promoting Workstation, meanwhile, any other media that was produced was by request only and not advertised. We believe that the OLPC is what generated the SOAS requests since we did have a lot of children that stopped and played the games on the OLPC. When the parents asked if we had that software, we gladly produced and handed them a DVD. We also had a special request from a Jacksonville Florida LUG member for 40 DVDs of Workstation. Julie produced the media and delivered the DVD’s along with a little swag for the next LUG meeting in Florida. That request brought our total to 155 Workstation DVD’s produced for SELF.
We had many questions regarding the direction of the project and how it interacts with Red Hat. Spending a lot of time demonstrating features within GNOME and Workstation, we felt that we did meet our goals. This event was a prime target giving the opportunity for users and experts to explore Fedora Workstation. Looking forward to next year, there was some discussion for demonstrating an Amateur Radio Spin alongside the latest Workstation release. This will give us the opportunity to demonstrate the versatility of Fedora. Again these are just conversations between ambassadors for next year but could prove to be an interesting point. We hope to bring some new initiatives to Southeast Linux Fest in the following years to come.