This year’s Southern California Linux Expo, SCaLE 20x, was held in Pasadena, California, on March 9-12 and it had many speakers, mini-events, booths, and attendees from all over the world. Just after the event, we had the opportunity to talk about SCaLE 20x with Dennis Rex, public relations at SCaLE.
Can you please introduce yourself? What is your role in SCaLE events?
Dennis Rex. Technology has been my passion since I was a kid and my livelihood for nearly as long. A Southern California resident for about 30 years, I enjoy hiking and cycling the local mountains whenever I can. Open-source software runs my laptop, my desktop, my firewall, and my home network. Supporting SCaLE with public relations and photography is a way to give back to a community to which I’m indebted.
How did you come up with the idea of hosting a Linux expo?
SCaLE started in 2002 when students at UCLA, UCSB, CSUN, and the local LUGs wanted to create opportunities to gather OSS users and developers. We built the conference to focus on topics that interested us as early Linux and OSS users. The conference provided a forum to hear from well-known developers or luminaries. For example, these past two years we were able to get folks whose work enabled the internet we know today, with people like Ken Thompson and Vint Cerf as keynote speakers.
You have recently completed SCaLE 20x. How was it? How many people attended? Can you please summarize the event?
SCaLE this year provided 4 days of content workshops and seminars to thousands of attendees. Attendees repeatedly said they felt this was the first “back to normal” event since the pandemic has reduced our program in 2022.
Were there any “highlight” moments during the event? If there were, can you share those with us?
The highlight, for me, had to be The Next Generation sessions. Dozens of young people spent the weekend exploring and presenting on technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, and a host of open-source-related topics and projects. Their enthusiasm was clearly evident and bodes well for a strong FOSS future.
What are the co-located events of SCaLE? What benefits do they provide?
Because SCaLE books the entire Pasadena Convention Center we are able to provide a home for other OSS communities that wish to gather. This year that included projects such as PostgreSQL and Ceph running their own conferences. The LA DevOps community also ran DevOps Day LA alongside us. Bringing together diverse communities with different interests allows them to cross-pollinate ideas and offers more content to SCaLE’s core attendees.
How do SCaLE events benefit open source?
Awareness, engagement and enlightenment, at a high level. Because it brings together such a diverse cross-section of the FOSS universe, SCaLE offers a chance for people to collaborate and share ideas/best practices about how to create or deploy open-source software, for example. A core tenet of open-source code development is giving back to the community via fixes or enhancements. That “pay it forward” mentality carries through to sharing use cases. Every year, we hear about a new or better way to do something we thought we knew all about. Success begets success.
Why is SCaLE limited to Southern California? Do you have plans for hosting the event in other regions despite its name coming directly from “Southern California”?
The “SC” in SCaLE comes from Southern California. We have attendees join us from around the world, but we are always located in the greater LA area because that is where we were founded. These days our organizers come from Europe, Canada, and across the US. Our attendees travel from Sydney, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
We have sister events in other regions, like Texas Linux Fest in Austin. But SCaLE will always be in SoCal.
What do you think about the future of open source? Will open source be more widespread than today?
Open source is the default development paradigm in 2023 and has been for some time. The question is how can we keep it that way, how do we keep it secure, and how do we make sure this model remains sustainable in new types of development where it’s not just the code that matters? For example, how useful is an OSS AI model without the data set on which it was trained?
What do you think about Valve’s current efforts for making Windows games more accessible in Linux? Do you think this effort can affect Linux’s popularity among casual PC users?
We love it when more software comes to Linux and would welcome new gaming opportunities on Linux. SCaLE is focused on all aspects of Linux and OSS use on the desktop, on the server, and beyond.
There are a lot of controversies about AI right now; one of them was GitHub’s use of open-source code to train its commercial assistant AI. What is your view about the current improvements in artificial intelligence and open-source materials?
This is exactly the type of discussion you may find in a SCaLE 21x session. The community has always found a way to balance free and commercial elements, whether that means something simple like a paid support subscription for open code or something much more complex. Open source has enabled the development of countless profitable products and companies. I am confident that the community will find a clear path forward as new, yet-unimagined technology emerges. I didn’t get ChatGPT to write that, but your question made me curious. Here’s how the OpenAI tool replied:
Open-source materials have played a significant role in the development of AI technology. Open-source software and tools have made it easier for researchers and developers to access cutting-edge technology, collaborate with others, and develop new AI applications.
The combination of AI and open-source materials has led to numerous breakthroughs in fields such as healthcare, finance, and transportation. For example, AI-powered medical diagnosis systems can help doctors make more accurate diagnoses, while self-driving cars rely on advanced AI algorithms to navigate roads safely.
Overall, the current improvements in artificial intelligence and open-source materials have the potential to transform many aspects of our lives, and it will be interesting to see what new innovations emerge in the coming years.