Mifos at LinuxFest Northwest

This past month we had the chance to experience LinuxFest Northwest for the first time. Over the years, we’d heard many good things from Adam Monsen and Bill Wright had always stopped by our booth to invite us to come. Their unique northwest logo always captivated us and given it was directly in our backyard, we had no excuses not to intend when we were offered a free booth as a Community Supporter.  

This year, Ollie and I hosted a booth in the Exhibitor Hall for two days and got to meet hundreds of potential new supporters and contributors. It turned out to be one of the most well-run conferences we’ve attended and we look forward to returning for many years to come - hopefully we'll get Vishwas to speak next year!  It’s a shame it took us to the 15th year of LinuxFest Northwest to finally come but LinuxFest Northwest has clearly perfected their conference over all those years and should be proud of their efforts.

All around, the conference, the people, the content, and the venue are all top-notch. It’s a testament to the organizers, their volunteer network, and the spirit of open source that such a lively and well-run conference attracting 1500+ attendees could still be made completely free to attendees.

  • The Conference: The entire conference has a very natural and laid-back vibe to it where people simply come to learn and discuss freely their thoughts and questions. There are no barriers to communication, no egos on display as the atmosphere is very collegial. I expected there to be lulls throughout the day at our booth but throughout the course of the weekend there was a steady stream of eager new faces stopping by. The raffle that occurs on both days captures the overall feel of the conference perfectly - a humming buzz driven by the enthusiasm of all in the room. Logistically it’s one of the most well-run conferences I’ve been to - registration was a breeze, the schedule printed on the badge hanging on my lanyard was extremely convenient and all the sessions are well-paced. I can’t express how awesome the LinuxFest Northwest volunteers are - they were so attentive and gave so much care and consideration to making sure we had what we needed in our booth. Any time you needed one, there was a volunteer in their red shirt asking if they could help you with power, internet, you name it. On Day 2, we ran out of flyers and one of the volunteers ran upstairs and made a stack of photocopies of our flyers and brought them back down - where else would you get service like that!
  • The People: I’m impressed by the size, activism, and diversity of the crowd that attends LinuxFest Northwest. I alway thought it would just be people from Seattle coming up but the majority were a part of the growing and vibrant tech scene right in Bellingham. Being a free conference opens the door to everyone attending so it’s nice to meet people ranging from bright-eyed high school students on up to war veterans, all who are passionate about open source technology and eager to learn more about our mission. Most of the people that came by our booth (apart from several who heard our interview on FLOSS Weekly) were discovering Mifos for the first time - awesome that we were making this first impression but revealing that we have so many more people we can touch with our message.
  • The Content:  I only had the chance to attend two sessions but I was thoroughly engrossed in both the Growing Your User Group and the How to Get and Keep Non-Technical Volunteers sessions. They were both fun, informative, and had the right balance of information, anecdotes, and practical advice to make the content stick and be internalized well. Once again the atmosphere was very laid back and everyone had the opportunity to ask questions and participate.
  • The Venue: Bellingham Technical College is a state-of-the-art facility that was easy to navigate and had great bandwidth. Parking was ample and Bellingham was a beautiful city to explore during the evenings.

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