ABLEconf (Arizona Business and Liberty Experience conference) was held on Saturday, October 24, 2009. Once again at the University of Advancing Technology in Phoenix, the conference held more presentations than in its inaugural. Among those displaying their services was the Ubuntu-Arizona LoCo team.
I was disappointed with the conference at first, this year. Not because my table was bracketed by Red Hat on one side and Fedora on the other. That was pure serendipity, and we had a lot of fun talking about our experiences and discussing mutual problems with various programs and new converts. No, it just seemed that there were very few people attending the conference. All morning long, we only had a handful of people approach the tables.
BOY! Was I wrong. Noon-time came, and the whole area around the vendors' tables seemed to sprout people by the handfuls and in bunches. Then it hit me. Everyone had been at the morning presentations. That's why we hadn't seen them. About 90 people filled the space as PLUG (Phoenix Linux Users Group) leader Hans started up the raffle for prizes. Sponsors had donated a number of prizes to be given out - everything from books to a USB pen (literally) drive, to a child's penguin costume, to various food items. Excitement ran high as Hans had tickets selected and numbers called off, and good natured teasing erupted from all over.
Reports I've heard lead me to believe that the presentations were well received. Certainly discussions at my table were enlightening both for the people who came to ask questions and for me. If the questions raised at my table are any indication then people are starting to think of more than just "what's in it for me." They are beginning to ask about how Linux behaves and what is available, as well as differences between distributions.
The talks with the Red Hat representatives was just as enlightening. We discussed problems we'd had with various elements of our distributions - everything from window managers and sound and graphics to problems raised by others and how we strove to solve them. It was interesting to find that we all shared similar problems and solutions. Unlike commercial software vendors, there was no competition between us, or at least only good natured competition. We were just as apt to suggest to someone that they also look into Red Hat or Fedora or Ubuntu, and see if it suited their needs. We even discussed SELinux, both between ourselves and with conference attendees. The spirit of Free Libre Open Source Software seems to have been the attitude of the whole conference. Though we each presented our own distributions and situations, we didn't restrict ourselves, and tried to make things as all-inclusive as possible.
For myself, the AZ LoCo distributed 12 Ubuntu server disks, 9 Kubuntu desktop disks, and 19 Ubuntu desktop disks. In all, I think this ABLEconf was a success, and was glad that I was able to represent Ubuntu and the Arizona LoCo. I look forward to future ones as being even better.