I spent a couple hours at Linuxfest Northwest in Bellingham on Saturday. I wasn’t sure what to expect–I try to avoid “fests” of any type, and community Linux events make me nervous–but this was surprisingly well-organized and well-attended. There were several hundred people in attendance, and they weren’t all as geeky as you’d fear. Which is to say that there were a surprising number of kids with their parents, as well as a lot of 50+ years olds. The exhibit room surprised me; about 13 of the tables were local networking companies and 13 were colleges, user groups, or other non-commercial interests (like the obligatory Debian table), but around 13 of the tables were reasonably large companies. Pogo Linux has a table showing off their dual- and quad-opteron servers. Amazon was recruiting. There was a table for Candela Tech, which isn’t exactly a house-hold name, but Ben Greear, their founder, wrote the 802.1q VLAN code for Linux, and was showing off their network testing tools in their booth. According to their website, they’re based in Ferndale, Washington, which is one of the last places in the world I would have guessed.

Anyway, my main reason for attending is that, in a fit of weakness, had volunteered to help judge the “alpha geek” contest. Yeah, like I really needed to spend two hours in a room with people competing to see who was the geekiest. The contest was basically a trivia contest covering Linux, PC hardware, networking, and geek-compatible movies. There were a few small disputes over vague questions, but by and large everything went well. In the end, we named Jim Richardson as the geekiest in a close decision.

After that, I wandered around, ran into an old co-worker, talked for a bit, and then took off. It’d been a few months since my wife had had an entire day without the kids, so I’d dragged them to Bellingham with me, and dropped them off with my parents on Lummi Island for the day. In the end, I ended up back on the island around 2:30, and spent a couple hours playing with the kids, watching the eagles, herons, and sailboats drift past, and generally enjoying the day. It was a nice counterpoint to the Linuxfest. All in all, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have enjoyed sitting on the island reading The Confusion even more, but I wouldn’t have caught up with the former co-worker, or with Bob, the CS department’s sysadmin from when I was in college. So, all in all, it was a good day.