LugRadio Live 2005

LugRadio Live happened this weekend; I need to scribble down my thoughts before I listen to the recordings and they replace my memories as my definition of the event.

I’d been to the Linux Expo in April 2004. Held in one of the big shed London exhibition venues, I quickly realised the event itself was a somewhat unsatisfactory compromise between corporate salesmanship, a minor concession to the community and the chance to hear one or two big name thinkers. While the exhibition was free – surely no one would pay to be sold at – we only managed to get in free to one or two talks because Jono was speaking; otherwise, it would have cost somewhere around £70.

Maybe that’s okay for corporate IT buyers, journalists and other people with a professional reason, and budget, for attending. However, open source remains a joint venture between business and enthused volunteers. Without its strong community, open source could be overshadowed by corporate interests and would be no more interesting to the average non-coder than extreme programming or any other development methodology.

At the big London expos, community is relegated to the pub afterwards or down in the basement’s dot-org village. Ade, Aq, Jono and I wanted an event for the community.

LugRadio is lucky to have one of the most vibrant and dedicated communities I’ve seen for a non-software project in the open source world. With their backing, we decided we’d have a go at organising the community-focused Linux event that we desired. After several months of preparation, LugRadio Live actually took place at Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium last Saturday.


Friday evening I had my first inkling that LugRadio Live might be more popular than I’d expected. Walking into the beer garden of the Hog’s Head pub in Wolverhampton city centre, I saw a table of roughly thirty people. A few faces I recognised were sprinkled amongst many more that I didn’t; we’d hardly mentioned the pre-LRL drink and yet several people I’d never heard of were there and recognised the four large gents.

As more people joined us, and more beer was drunk, the Um Bongo theme music was swapped by Bluetooth and I got to chat to so many interesting people. Neuro, Bruno, Darran and Lois, Mr Ben, Russ and Jen, Pickle, Aquarion, the short-as-me Gerv Markham, Jonathan Riddell, plus beardy-bloke, Welsh Dominic, Big Ron, the Goodwins, short-bloke-with-much-hair and his mate from Newcastle all stand out in my rather hazy memory; sorry if I’ve missed you. Thanks to everyone who turned up, for you are the mighty inner circle (sorry, WolvesLUG in-joke there).

The event itself

Saturday went amazingly well. We’d hoped we could manage more than a hundred people; at its peak, we reckon 250 were there! Highlights for me were:

  • meeting so many people from #lugradio and the forums
  • Mark Shuttleworth and Bill Thompson’s talks
  • the Mass Debate
  • seeing so many unfamiliar faces wandering around, enjoying something I’d co-organised.

I did enjoy recording LugRadio Live and Unrestrained but felt slightly self-conscious when people applauded at the end. I didn’t get to speak to half the people I would have liked – sorry in particular to Davee, Tony and Omahn.

Thanks to my fellow LugRadio presenting pals whose hard work made the event a success. Thanks also to all the amazing speakers and exhibitors! I do have to also thank the heroes who helped us make sure everything ran okay:

  • Adam Sweet
  • Dave Morley
  • Lois
  • Blue9
  • The two blokes from Birmingham who were on the door (mail me your names)
  • Big Ron
  • anyone else I may have forgotten, sorry!

The curry in the evening was a minor disaster but, hey, everything else seemed to go well.

Next year: bigger venue, more speakers, food, a lunch break, more time and all that jazz.