openSUSE Conference 2011: first meeting

The program committee for the openSUSE Conference 2011 held its first meeting today, on #opensuse-project](irc://

The team consists of the following:

Everyone was present, except Will who couldn’t attend at that time of day.

The complete log is available online, as well as the summary of action items and decisions.

The predefined topics for this meeting were as follows:

  1. Theme
  2. Format

As usual, a few more topics arose during the meeting.

The discussion around the theme of the conference revolved around two aspects:

  • the motto (or tag line) of the conference, with two proposals currently floating around:
  • “Collaboration across borders” (same as 2010)
  • “rwxrwxrwx” (openSUSE: read, write, execute, for you, the project, and the world)
    • the main focus (or theme) of the conference, which is reflected by each of the mottos above

The debate mostly went about how much collaboration, and how much openSUSE centric sessions should be held.

Collaboration is important in many ways:

  • openSUSE is an open minded project that actively seeks collaboration with other open source projects
  • doing so at the conference makes it more visible in the press and marketing wise in general (as in: we know it’s like that, but not everyone knows nor sees us like that just yet)
  • of course, it also gives us opportunities to get in touch with other people and projects who are not in the openSUSE community and not directly contributing to openSUSE, but still of high interest for current or future undertakings of our project, as well as to mutually benefit both our project and other open source projects

Nevertheless, the openSUSE Conference in 2010 was felt as not making up enough time for topics that are specific to our project. As such, we agree that the focus needs to be shifted a bit more towards openSUSE itself.

The team agreed on the following:

  • the motto is not critical right now, and may still be decided upon later, especially as it also involves other people in the community, such as the marketing and artwork teams
  • the program committee will request the support of the openSUSE marketing team for the motto, albeit the general theme of the conference will be decided by the program committee; also, the final say on the motto will remain with the committee, but only to veto in if it does not match the theme
  • the program committee will have as goal to reach a ratio of around 2/3 of sessions being openSUSE centric, and 1/3 about collaboration with other projects
  • for sessions on collaboration, we will reach out to projects and people who work on things that have a direct connection with what we do

Bryen will contact the marketing team to gather their support on the conference motto.

We had a few discussions and ideas about the format of the conference – more specifically, how to organize the schedule and the sessions themselves.

We agreed on the following:

  • the program committee will write up guidelines and good practices for presentations and BoFs (or what we call “read-only” and “read/write” sessions, respectively) to provide some support for speakers
  • the program committee will put a strong focus and favor “read/write” session proposals, as we believe that it provides more value to the community, give more people a chance to chime in with their ideas and experience, and also because we are (or at least try to be) an open project without much bureaucracy

Neither the date nor the location of the conference are known at this time.

Andreas Jaeger is currently actively seeking options in the area of Nürnberg in Germany, and we hope to have a solution very soon.

The venue will have to have at least 5 distinct rooms (of which one will be used by the SUSE Labs conference) to provide sufficient capacity for the attendees, as well as enough flexibility to organize the schedule.

Call for Papers
Not having the date nor the location at this point is a major hurdle for a Call for Papers. Indeed, most people will be reluctant to post a proposal if they don’t know where and when.

Nevertheless, making the Call for Papers is quite pressing, as it typically involves a somewhat longer period of time for people to send their proposals, as much as it needs to take a few days into account for the program committee to decide on those.

Jos will write up a draft for the Call for Papers, which will then be quickly circulated across the conference committee for amendments. It will not be published just yet, as we prefer to have a confirmation on the date and the location before we do (for the reasons mentioned above.)

The next program committee is next week, where we will decide what to do with the Call for Papers (publish or wait for the confirmation of location and date), especially if location and date are not known at that time.

Alan will send out emails to several openSUSE mailing-lists to ask for input on

  • current or upcoming topics, e.g. in terms of technology
  • major undertakings and tasks that need to be addressed soon, and where one or more sessions during the conference could be helpful for collective brainstorming
  • people/projects to invite for close collaboration during the conference (e.g. systemd, smolt, OBS, Fedora marketing team, etc…)

The program committee will collect a few proposals for topics/tracks in order to facilitate the submission of sessions during the Call for Papers phase.

The mailing-list will be used again to contact the program committee as well as to submit proposals after the publication of the CfP (unless we come up with a better solution in the mean time.) Bryen will contact Henne (our mailing-list admin) to configure the mailing-list for the program committee for 2011.

We also agreed on using Indico again, mostly because it is already in place.

Next meeting
The next meeting of the program committee is scheduled for next week, 2011-04-28, at 19:00 UTC.

A possible theme for this year would be 20 years of Linux - looking at what aspects of openSUSE can be traced back to the origins of SUSE’s first involvement in distributing Linux, what SUSE/openSUSE has brought that is distinctive to the Linux ecosystem and what contributions openSUSE might make in the future.