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Top Geeks to Converge on Wellington
Posted on 15-Dec-2009 08:00 by Anna Friedlander. | Tags Filed under: News.

When the first Australasian Linux conference (LCA) was held at Monash University, Melbourne in 1999, it was funded entirely from one of the founder's personal credit cards. Since then, the conference has gone from strength to strength, attracting some of the biggest corporate sponsors such as Google, HP and IBM. In 2010, LCA will come to Wellington, New Zealand from Monday 18 to Saturday 23 January, bringing together some of the brightest minds in the free and open source community.

Despite the increased profile of the conference, it hasn't lost the DIY spirit that characterises the free and open source community.

Linux is an operating system, much like Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OSX. Linux is free from the usual constraints of proprietary software – free to download, install, use and modify. Linux is just a small part of a much wider volunteer movement of the free and open source software community.

Free and open source software, also known as FOSS, is software that has been licensed to grant the rights of users to study, change and improve its design through the availability of its source code. Popular examples of FOSS software are the Firefox web browser, Ubuntu Linux distribution, and the productivity suite.

Ten years ago, free and open source software was a small movement of serious computer geeks. Today, companies, universities and government departments have all caught on to the benefits of this class of software.

True to the open source spirit, the conference is entirely run by a team of volunteers. The volunteers don't get paid for their time, but usually feel that they're giving back to the community that they have all personally benefited from.

“We are really just here to facilitate a meeting of minds”, says Andrew Ruthven, LCA 2010 co-director. “Getting some of the brightest geeks in the southern hemisphere together is a great way to highlight the activity in the community and get new people interested in using the software or joining the FOSS movement!”.

Highlights of the 2010 conference include keynote speeches by some impressive speakers, including two top American academics and an internationally renowned British journalist.

Gabriella Coleman, an academic from New York University spent years as an anthropologist researching computer hackers in the US and Europe, as well as those hackers who work on the largest free software project, Debian. Coleman will be speaking about ethics and the free and open source community in her keynote speech.

A senior researcher at MIT, Benjamin Mako Hill is passionate about freedom. Mako is described as a leader, developer, and contributor to the free and open source software community. As well as involvement in projects like Debian and Ubuntu, Mako has been an adviser to the One Laptop per Child programme and a current board director on the Free Software Foundation.

Glyn Moody has been writing about computers since 1982. He is a well known free and open source software journalist, writing about Linux in Wired magazine as early as 1997, and author of “Rebel Code” looking at the history of free and open source software.

Nat Torkington ran New Zealand's first web server, and was a long time chair of one of the biggest open source conferences in the calendar year, OSCON, during a long career at O'Reilly Media. Nat is a current council member of InternetNZ.

The diverse range of viewpoints represented in the speakers list is reflected in the range of “Miniconfs” at this year's conference. “Miniconfs” are, as the name suggests, mini-conferences within the conference, and give groups and individuals the opportunity to germinate ideas in the free and open source community. The 2010 Linux conference sees a range of miniconfs, from open programming languages, to “Libre Graphics”, and open source in business, government agencies and education.

The Open Day is an opportunity for the general public to get an introduction to free and open source software, as showcased by a number of organisations, companies, projects and communities. One Laptop Per Child NZ will be there to entertain the kids with the new XO laptops.

The conference doors open to the public – for free – on Saturday 23 January.

Registrations for LCA2010 are still open. A number of different registration packages are available to suit professionals, hobbyists and students.

More information:

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