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Trans-Pacific Open Source Software Conference (TPOSSCON) 2006

Interview with conference organizer R. Scott Belford

Where do you go if you want to discuss Open Source with some of the most influential Open Source leaders in Asia, Australia, and the rest of the Pacific Rim?

Why Hawaii, of course, for TPOSSCON 2006 to be held January 9-12 in Honolulu (www.tposscon.com/). The second annual event is put on by the Hawaii Open Source Foundation (www.hosef.org) led by Scott Belford, recognized as one the 40 under 40 and soon to be a staffer for Hawaiian state senator Will Espero. Scott has taken his vision of helping his community learn about Open Source and expanded it by helping to gather together some of the best and brightest in Open Source. In only its second year TPOSSCON speakers include Linux luminary Bruce Perens, Amazon.com's technology evangelist Jeff Bar, and HP's Linux Strategist Mike Balma. It also promises to be a combination of education and camaraderie among Linux and Open Source enthusiasts.

I had the opportunity to interview Scott and find out why TPOSSCON promises to be both an educational and important place to network with other Linux and Open Source users.

LW: What prompted you to start the Trans Pacific Open Source Software?

Belford: I started TPOSSCON as a way to raise funds for our charitable non-profit The Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation (HOSEF). I'll confess that I had been to LinuxWorld and said to myself, Wow, I wish this were in Hawaii. Herein began my endeavor to create a fundraiser cleverly disguised as a conference.

We owe it to the youth we serve to foster a FOSS economy. By calling Hawaii's attention to the growing opportunities from Free and Open Source Software, we hope to inspire our own small to mid-size businesses to put Linux to work. Given that our multicultural population represents the future of our country, we seem the perfect bridge to the burgeoning FOSS innovation and adoption in Asia.

LW: Tell me a little about Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation?

Belford: HOSEF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to promote and sustain the use of Free and Open Source Software For years now we've been pushing the adoption curve forward in Hawaii by demonstrating the ubiquity of the gnu/linux desktop. Through programs like our Gnu Linux Edutainment Learning Centers and Computer Guts, we've been able to donate hundreds of functioning computers to our youth, our schools, and our non-profits.

This is 17% of our work. Our real mission is to institutionalize the free part of FOSS. By partnering with existing schools and non-profits, we build their capacity for self-reliance by working with their students to process and donate our computers. We provide, and have for years now, free classes and support every Saturday in partnership with one our DOE schools, The McKinley Community School for Adults.

We're interested in an education revolution, and freely available thin-clients are paving the way for more access than ever before for our schools. Thanks to the LTSP, packages in the K12LTSP, Skolelinux, and Edubuntu, we can provide a school or non-profit with an outstanding and easy to use desktop that is customized for education. Thinclients, partnerships, and Free Software give guys like me who want to help but can't program a way to contribute.

LW: Why do you think you're attracting such high-profile speakers like Peter Quinn, the CIO of Massachusetts, and Mike Balma, HP's Linux business strategist?

Belford: I'd sure like to tell you, with modest humility, about our approach, opportunity, and professionalism. However, we should remember that our event is in Hawaii. It's not hard to interest anyone in traveling to paradise in January.

I'll have to say, though, that these relationships were forged when I went to LinuxWorld in San Francisco the last two years. I won't lie; I go to see who I want to have in Hawaii. Mr. Quinn has shown great vision with his ODF initiative, and HP has been quite supportive two years in a row now by sending outstanding representatives.

LW: Who do you think is the most interesting attendees at the show? Is there something not to be missed?

Belford: It's probably not possible to say who will be our most interesting speaker at TPOSSCON since I have the great pleasure of seeking them out. I will note that for Hawaii many of our citizens may be very interested in hearing from Alex Banh of Hong Kong-based Sun Wah. Of course, many of our retail-rich SMBs will be interested to know how Amazon is using FOSS, so they will definitely want to hear from Jeffrey Barr.

LW: What is your favorite Open Source success story?

Belford: It has to be the desktop. I've been playing with GNU/Linux on the desktop since the late '90s, and it's astonishing to see how usable free can be. From the culture of Debian to the ambition of Fedora to the innovations of Ubuntu, the progress of a free desktop is breathtaking.

LW: You're getting involved or have been involved with Open Source in government. What exactly are you up to?

Belford: Well, I don't know. What we've tried to do is safely demonstrate the usability of the Linux desktop. By infusing functioning workstations and labs into schools across the island, we've eliminated the classic argument that the support of this new thing is not yet ubiquitous.

This has caught the attention of our governor, our city council, and our legislature. Our own chair of business and economic development, State Senator Will Espero, has taken quite an interest in our work as well as the ODF initiative in Massachusetts. Frankly, the values of FOSS match those of our self-reliant, independent, sovereign-minded voters.

Of course, with Gordon Bruce, CIO of Honolulu, America's eleventh-largest city, eagerly seeking FOSS innovation in the many projects underway here, It's not hard to be inspired. Mr. Bruce will, in fact, be hosted by Senator Espero this January at an informal luncheon at our state legislature. Look for great things in Hawaii in 2006.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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SYS-CON India News Desk 02/14/06 06:40:31 PM EST

Trans-Pacific Open Source Software Conference (TPOSSCON) 2006
Where do you go if you want to discuss Open Source with some of the most influential Open Source leaders in Asia, Australia, and the rest of the Pacific Rim?

SYS-CON Italy News Desk 02/14/06 05:45:42 PM EST

Trans-Pacific Open Source Software Conference (TPOSSCON) 2006
Where do you go if you want to discuss Open Source with some of the most influential Open Source leaders in Asia, Australia, and the rest of the Pacific Rim?

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