OSCON 2005: OSCON vs LinuxWorld
So last year I opted to go to LinuxWorld, which was in my backyard, instead of OSCON. This year I was lucky enough to attend OSCON. Disclaimer: We were an OSCON sponsor, but I don’t think it impaired my judgement. 🙂
The two shows are very different, but the short summary is that OSCON was better. The long summary is as follows:
Sessions: The sessions, in general, at OSCON seemed to be more authoritative and deep on their given subject matter. With a few notable exceptions (Brian Aker’s MySQL session comes to mind), LinuxWorld’s sessions just weren’t geeky enough for my tastes. I felt like I knew considerably more about the subjects than the presenters did. Equivalent subjects at OSCON, however, left me feeling like I’d just watched a presentation by someone more knowledgeable, or at the very least, one of my peers.
Keynotes: Perhaps the most interesting difference between the two were the keynotes. At LinuxWorld, they had a lot of business heavyweights from various companies involved or just getting involved with linux. Generally, I’m not a fan of the ‘vendor keynote’ as they often end up being a lot of horn-tooting, and not much else. LinuxWorld did an admirable job, though, of having the vendor keynotes still be fairly useful and interesting. From patent indemnification to laptops shipping with Linux, some meat came out in addition to corporate posturing. At OSCON, there was a mix of geek keynotes and vendor keynotes. I massively prefer geek keynotes when I can get them, and OSCON didn’t disappoint – they were mostly great (especially on Friday!). But the vendor keynotes were definitely a low note. From SpikeSource to Computer Associates, they lacked meat and substance. I think I’ll call this one a tie.
Exhibits: I would say they were roughly on par. LinuxWorld was larger, but OSCON was more focused. Neither offered me much in the way of new products or information that I didn’t already have, so I didn’t spend much time in either hall other than searching for friends. OSCON did have goodies in the hall during breaks, so slight bonus points are awarded for that.
In-the-halls: For lack of a better term, we’ll just call it “in-the-halls”. This is really where a lot of the meat of a conference gets done, if you ask me. Meeting new people, seeing old friends, and generally geeking out. Between sessions, keynotes, and the like, discussions even more interesting than the talks occured on-the-spot. My list of valuable contacts grew, and we even managed to invent something neat with regards to feeds, I think. More on that in another post. OSCON dominated in this regard LinuxWorld was nearly useless, at least to me, in comparison.
Social: While you might argue that the after-show parties and dinners aren’t part of the show, or aren’t influenced by the show organizers, I think you’d be wrong. The caliber of speakers and show quality directly relates to how much fun and how useful the after parties are. (Parties? Useful? Definitely.) OSCON wins here, too, though maybe I’m just too sucky to go to the good stuff at LinuxWorld. 🙂 (And did OSCON have Casey West’s powerful green laser popping balloons and freaking cops out?)
Location: I’ve never been to Portland so I was excited to visit someplace new. Portland turned out to be a beautiful city with fantastic public transportation. While I ate at some nice places in Portland (especially Good Dog/Bad Dog and Queen of Sheba!), I think I have to give San Francisco the edge in food. Both have gorgeous Japanese Gardens (which seemed overrun by OSCON geeks, which was cool) and bridges. I think this one is a tie.
Verdict: OSCON by a large margin. Kudos to O’Reilly for putting on another great con.