SoCal Linux Expo preview: ODF, KDE4, Asterisk on the agenda

Next month Linux enthusiasts and newbies will flock to the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) for free CDs, technical talks and even a conference on the OpenDocument format. The small show, run by an all volunteer staff, focuses on end-user education, but also has several classes devoted to businesses. Among the speakers and exhibitors will be representatives of Google, Novell and IBM.

Many of the talks and sessions at SCALE will have end-users in mind and teach basics of Linux in beginner's courses, which will complement the free Linux CDs given out on the show floor. Several distributions including Novell, Ubuntu and Fedora will be given away, while others will be available for a small donation, said Orv Beach, organizer of the conference. He mentioned that the show will maintain a low-key, non-commercial flavor and adds, "We don't allow sales pitches during the talks."

Interesting answers and additional insight in the ODF versus Microsoft Open XML debate is expected from Peter Quinn. The former Chief Information Officer for Massachusetts, will lead a workshop on "Open Standards For Government Organizations" and compare benefits, technical merits and vendor lock-in issues of ODF and proprietary formats. Quinn had spearheaded the state's transition to ODF before his resignation last month. ODF recently gained momentum with IBM and Novell both announcing support for the format in upcoming software packages.

Dan Kegel, a software engineer for Google, will talk about desktop usability in his "Why Johnny can't use Linux" speech. Speaking of desktops, KDE supporters will get a treat as Aaron Seigo will demo the upcoming KDE 4 with the new Plasma desktop. GNOME, the other major desktop for Linux, was also invited, but Beach says they have yet to respond.

For companies looking into reducing their bottom line, Tim Frichtel will give a talk titled, "Implementing VoIP with Asterisk for Business". Covering topics like how Asterisk works and what equipment is needed, Frichtel will document how he switched his business from a Nortel Meridian PBX to an Asterisk VoIP solution. Frichtel will also devote time in directly comparing the two solutions both on cost and technical merit.

Government organizations will also be particpating: Bernard Soriano, CIO for the California Department of Motor Vehicles is scheduled to give a keynote.

SCALE will be held February 11 and 12 at the Los Angeles Airport Radisson Hotel and will have 55 exhibit booths in addition to four speaker tracks. The show has traditionally given free exhibit space to non-profit organizations and the trend continues this year. "Any Organization can get a free booth as long as you prove you have something to teach," said beach.