The last major event was in 2009 at the Florida Linux Show that promoted open and free software.
I was extremely excited when I heard that there was a central Florida conference, and even more since we (Fedora) were invited to attend. The event went as scheduled September 11th through 13.
The event coordinator Bryan Smith and I exchanged a few emails on the event prior to us arriving on the early morning on the 12th . The first day did not have any Expo hall activity, and since we were a short 2 and a half hours drive from the event I did not see any need to get there on the 11th.
Upon arrival at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando Florida we proceeded to the check and registration booth for the event. I spoke with the event coordinator briefly on what we were to expect today and get us checked into the event. He was truly excited to see Fedora show up and was ready to get us started. This was his first event planning for something this size and as everything that goes along with it including some equipment problems. Although minor equipment issues presented themselves, they always grow into larger problems as the days goes along. Nevertheless, eventually the worked out the bugs and got things rolling.
The Expo hall was large and accommodating, although we noticed that the booth was only sufficient enough for only two people to sit behind the table. Everything conveniently fit under the table without a problem. Sufficient power feeds were present and ready for use. We did not experience any difficulty with the set up or area. The Fedora booth was located directly across from the Red Hat booth and just to our right with CentOS. We owned the corner. The booth was ready to go at 9 am on the first expo day and we already had some of the other booth’s exhibitor’s show up at our booth. They were really glad to see us there and had questions for us right away. There were not a lot of O/S booths in attendance. Ours, CentOS and Ubuntu were in attendance, as well as some of the other folks we normally see in the area Omnibond, HP Open source, Free BSD just to name a few.
We had our standard run of swag stickers, pens, case badges, and I had a few Beefy Miracles left to hand out (they were quite popular). I also had a few other items that I handed out to those who were truly interested in Fedora and what Fedora does for them. I gave out about 20 USB Key’s to those who were really interested in our product. The first day proved to be quite busy for all three of us at the booth answering question and handing out media. Also as usual, the OLPC was running and drew lots of attention; there were several questions on how to get one. The Think pad was also set up to show the different versions of desktops Fedora provides with the Multi-DVD. It also proved useful in the acceptance of what we do. I gave out one full box of media on the first day. Many of the people that stopped by the booth were unaware of the other spins available from our website.
This alarmed me in the fact that there are many uses for the Security Spin.
I use the security spin for my personal business in looking at how secure small business’ are and what they can do to improve. They were also unaware of the media (graphic), JAM, and the Electronics lab Spins. This is an area I think we as ambassadors could improve in. There is no promotional media or fliers that would help us at the events. I plan on using another of my personal laptops to load one of the less known spins to promote more options.Also there were many discussions on the next release of Fedora and how the release will look. This was a good experience for us ambassadors and for the interested individuals.
On the second Day, the EXPO hall did not open until 1110. We were ready to go at 10am. Although the hall was not open (publicly) people still showed up and we were ready to help and distribute Fedora to anyone interested, that is when we noticed, No one else was there except the CentOS folks. This meant we had the corner on the market for the first ninety minutes. The second day was slower than the previous day but it had its advantages. We had some repeat individuals that had more questions about other issues that they were seeing on the install.
Nothing that we couldn’t handle there at the booth or that we could not get an answer to. We also had someone come up to help install Fedora and build a special live media for a gentleman that has some trouble with his wireless on the live media.
In summary the event was a good investment in time and booth expenses spent. We were able to distribute and promote Fedora in a very positive manner. More importantly getting more information on the various spins offered on our website pointed out to many individuals that there are more available on the Fedora Project website.. As the event ended on the 13th, I had had a conversation with the event coordinator with the plus side and the down side of what was going on.
The biggest problem was the frustration on not having things work the way it should have to begin with. Bugs and Gremlins are always present and hopefully the next year they will have them all worked out to make for a smoother running conference. I also discussed the Hotel and equipment issues briefly. The hotel could not have been more accommodating; there were available snacks and drinks in a small on property quick mart, full restaurants, fast food, and a mini coffee shop. The accommodations were more than satisfactory (in fact pretty darn good) for a very reasonable price. I feel that the event will only grow to a larger event if the coordinators can reach out to the surrounding larger cities such as Tampa, Miami, West Palm Beach/Ft Lauderdale, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville areas. These larger areas in fact do have a large Linux community and would probably travel if the correct advertising and reaching out to local Lugs is achieved.
We will definitely attend the next FOSSETCON in Orlando!