The Linux Foundation will announce today the creation of LinuxCon, a conference set to take place alongside the Linux Plumbers conference in Portland, Oregon. Does the world really need yet another open source conference?
As it turns out, the answer is probably yes. At least if the LF gets it right, and I strongly suspect that they will. The Linux Foundation is aiming to address the need to get a "for the community, by the community" large-scale conference going, where we can try to get as many stakeholders together for collaboration.
Collaboration is the key point, in my opinion -- the conferences that consist exclusively of presentations and exhibits have their place, but we really need more opportunities for developers to get together and get some work done face-to-face. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the conference circuit is expensive and I'm heartily glad to see a group like the Linux Foundation thinking about this problem from the perspective "how can we move this industry forward?" instead of "how can we make money off of this?"
I'm glad to have the opportunity for openSUSE contributors to get together with contributors from other distros and upstream projects to get some real work done. Yes, open source development happens quite effectively online, but sometimes there's no substitute for the work you can get done while you're face to face with someone else. (Which is why I'm writing this from Tokyo ahead of the Tokyo Open Source Conference, instead of from my home office in Florida...)
This won't remove the need for smaller local conferences like Ohio Linuxfest, SCALE, Linuxfest Northwest, and other local community-run shows that cater to users and provide great content. (Speaking of Ohio Linuxfest, I'll be attending and keynoting at OLF 2008. It's less than two weeks away, on October 11, so be sure to register and attend if you're in the area -- it's free and quite a lot of fun.)
But it may be a better chance for community projects to get together en masse and work on areas of mutual interest -- much like the LF has already done with the Linux Plumbers conference and its invite-only Collaboration Summit, but on a larger (and no invite required) scale.