This year was another great Ohio Linux Fest. This is the third year that Fedora has been at this event which draws a little over 1000 attendees. The Fedora presence has grown from three of us – Brian Pepple, Joe C and I – organizing our very first Fedora booth for an event, learning as we went to last year where we had several other helpers to this year where we had thirteen ambassadors around on Saturday to help staff the booth and mingle through the exhibition floor and conferences.
Ambassadors began arriving on Friday, with some of the locals helping people get to their hotels while waiting on the others to arrive. Shortly after work on Friday I received a text from Paul Frields saying he was safely in town and ready to see what the Friday evening plan was. A brief call to him and it seems folks would be getting together for dinner before heading to the OLF pre-party. I quickly gathered some phone numbers from folks on IRC and headed up to the downtown Columbus area. It didn’t take long and a call from Paul with the plan being to meet at Barley’s the same microbrew pub that the OLF pre-party was to be held at. A couple of calls to let others know and soon I met the others there.
I believe we had around 8 Fedora folks for dinner that evening and some enjoyment of Barley’s microbrews. Let’s see – we had John Rose, Clint Savage, Jon Stanley, Scott Williams, Paul Frields, Brian Powell, Brian Pepple and myself gathering and having a good time. We had a very good meal and soon headed to the pre-party that was in what Barley’s apparently calls the “Underground” – the basement of the pub. There were lots of people down there – gathering and socializing. I didn’t stay too late as I knew I needed to be back up to the Columbus area early with everything we needed for the booth setup. Paul was tired from the trip in and I dropped him off at his hotel before heading home and finishing some last minute stuff – like loading up the trunk of the car with the new Fedora North American Event Kit and a big old box of Fedora T-shirts!
5:30am came quite quickly. Made sure I had everything I needed and headed back into downtown and swung by Paul’s hotel who had so generously volunteered to help me with the booth setup. We found the booth, got the car unloaded and parked. Paul had an XO laptop and volunteered his own machine running Fedora to help show off Fedora. We got the banners hung – with more posters on the way that Jason Fenner was bringing to us. We set some of the media we had to give away out, Fedora stickers and some of the T-shirts. John Rose brought us some great looking Fedora buttons a little later, which were a big hit – quite popular. Clint Savage brought Asus eee PC to act as our USB key creation station. And just a bit later, Ben Williams showed up with some Fedora Unity Re-spins and a laptop to help burn more as the day went on. The booth came together pretty well once we had all the pieces in place.
With plenty of people to staff the booth it afforded a great chance for us to both have enough people working the booth and answering questions as well as to send folks out into the crowd and out talking to others to help stir up interest. Extra thanks to Clint and Dave Nalley who were *excellent* at really getting out there and talking to folks.
The booth was busy a good portion of the time – there seemed to be a lot of interest in Fedora. The XO PCs also generated a lot of attention which is great. We had a lot of T-shirts to give away and Clint decided if people were going to take a T-shirt they needed to wear it – as in put it on right at the booth! So the rule quickly became, yep – you can have a t-shirt, but you have to put it on right now! We’d send groups of six to eight people all off with new t-shirts they were wearing into the conference crowds! We also had some of them pose under our Fedora banner so we could snap their picture before we sent them off. It was a great time and it was fun seeing Fedora t-shirts later on in the day and at the keynote that evening.
Paul signed us up for Birds of a Feather session which has several people attend. We helped answer question, Paul talked about what Fedora is all about and we talked about helping lower the hurdles for contributing to the Fedora Project.
The Fedora Unity re-spins were also a popular item – people really liked the idea of being able to install and not have to do 1GB+ of updates right after the install. Thanks to Ben Williams and Scott Williams for bringing media and burning DVDs at the booth to keep us in supply.
By the time the exhibit hall was wrapping up we had given away 500+ pieces of Live and DVD media (a conservative estimate), all the fedora unity re-spins that could be made, 90+ T-shirts, around 100 buttons and lots of stickers. In addition to the swag we gave away I think we helped answer lots of people’s questions, show off the XO laptop and help encourage people to contribute to that project as well as contribute to Fedora – whether they were a developer, docs type person, artistic type or someone that could just talk about Fedora.
We packed up the booth – another win for the Fedora Event box and headed upstairs to catch the keynote by Jono Bacon. The talk was entertaining and enjoyed by many. From there we stashed our things in the cars and headed up High Street into the Short North area of Columbus to eat at the Happy Greek. It was great food and they did a great job ofaccommodating our group of 13 who went out to eat on a busy night for them. Despite us not ordering 16 flaming appetizers, we did order at least one to the table! Also, if you ever go out to eat with a large group like that and the establishment doesn’t want to split the check for you (and I can’t blame them) – make sure you have Paul with you – he has a great system that makes it relatively painless to split the bill up without being stuck at the table all night working it out to cents.
From there we headed back towards the convention center. Some of us were attending the after party while I headed back home after dropping Paul off at the hotel. Paul had a flight out the next morning and I needed to pick up some food on the way to the first FADNA on Sunday – look for another post coming covering FADNA later tonight or tomorrow.
Ohio Linux Fest was great this year. It was a very fun time and offered a great chance to meet lots of people I have been working with for years in some cases, but only knew by IRC nicks. In other cases it offered a chance to see people I had met previously again in person. Given that a lot of these folks paid out of their own pocket to make it to the event and put themselves up at a hotel – it was great to see so many!
I forgot to take my camera on Saturday, but Jon Stanley and Clint Savage both have their pictures posted: