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Keynote flashback: Karen Sandler in 2014
April 24, 2018

In preparation of announcing our 2018 keynotes next week, we’re revisiting our great keynotes past years

First up: Karen Sandler! Karen shares her personal story of how software freedom—or the lack of it—affects her life in a special way: by controlling the beating of her heart. She shares the dangers of proprietary systems for critical systems such as the implant that keeps her alive.

Program Committee Code of Practice (and CFP Dates!)
April 09, 2018

SeaGL 2018 organising is moving along nicely! We’re talking about our A/V requirements and what sort of fun stuff we’d like to do onsite. We’re also starting to reach out to potential sponsors who want to be a part of our sixth year. We would love it if you would share our prospectus with your company or organisation!

The Program Committee is the group responsible for choosing and scheduling all of the great talks you enjoy at SeaGL. This year the committee is:

  • Christopher Aedo
  • John SJ Anderson
  • VM Brasseur (program committee chair)
  • Wm Salt Hale
  • Nathan Handler
  • Tiberius Hefflin
  • Chris Neugebauer
  • Deb Nicholson
  • Pirate

Later in the process we’ll be joined by a collection of hand-picked people to help us review all of the talks you’ll be sending our way.

When should you start sending those talks? Good question! We’ve decided on dates for our 2018 Call for Proposals (aka CFP):

  • Open CFP: June 4 (you can start proposing talks on this date!)
  • Close CFP: July 29
  • Notify by: September 3

Like last year, we’ll have CFP office hours to help people brainstorm talk ideas and craft their proposals. We’ll also publish our review criteria again, but there probably won’t be many changes there from 2017.

What is new in 2018 is the Program Committee Code of Practice. It’s inspired by SeaGL’s mission of mentoring, collaboration, and openness. We’re very happy to share it here publicly for the first time:

Code of Practice

This is what we believe in and how we operate as we go about our business of building the best possible program and schedule for SeaGL.

As members of the SeaGL program committee and proposal reviewers, aside from the SeaGL Code of Conduct, we also agree to operate according to these values and statements:


We believe in the importance and power of free and open source software.

We believe in putting the needs of our audience and our community before our needs or those of our employers.

We believe in boosting the voices of others above our own.

We believe in mentoring and helping to create the speakers, leaders, and contributors of the future.

We believe in supporting diversity in thoughts and experiences in the talks and speakers we select for SeaGL.

We believe in creating and protecting a SeaGL environment that welcomes all people in safety and comfort.

But what does that mean? Like, practically?

How are these values reflected in how we operate as program committee members and reviewers? There could be many different ways, obviously, but here are some examples of what we will do our best to do:

  • Promote the CFP to all our communities.
  • Seek out unreached/underrepresented/underserved communities and help them to propose talks.
  • As time allows, assist people with their proposals, making it easy for them to propose and what they propose a higher quality.
  • Do our best to do all initial reviews blind, within the non-blind constraints of the system.
  • Only vote on talks we feel qualified to review.
  • Abstain from voting on talks where we made substantial contributions to the the proposal (but we can advocate during the review call).
  • As much as possible, don’t allow our personal or professional biases (or those of our employer) to influence our talk reviews.
  • After proposals are accepted, and as time allows, assist people with their talks to help ensure that what they deliver is valuable to the audience.

We’re all pleased to have the opportunity to serve the SeaGL community and share this Code of Practice with you. It’s our hope that we can serve as a model for other free and open source events, who can publish their own Codes of Practice.

To help with that, don’t forget that everything published here on the SeaGL website is licensed CC BY-SA. We encourage you to copy, modify, and redistribute this Code of Practice however you and your event need.

Announcing SeaGL 2018 Dates!
February 02, 2018

We’re excited to announce the dates for this year’s Seattle GNU/Linux Conference: Friday, November 9th and Saturday, November 10th, 2018. We’re also happy to be back at Seattle Central College on Capitol Hill once again. Now we are six!

We are brimming over with amazing ideas for this year’s event – maybe you are too? Join our organizing mailing list and become part of the action. For news about the CFP, join our low-traffic announcement list. For fun and seagull memes, follow us on Twitter.

Year of the High Five was Awesome
October 09, 2017

Thanks to all of our illustrious sponsors! We especially want to recognize Seattle Central College. They’ve been amazing each and every one of the five years that they’ve been our host. This year, though? They went above and beyond and managed to find us five new rooms for our sessions, just one week after a very, messy, no-good HVAC issue drowned out our original rooms.

We also want to thank all of our fine community sponsors for bringing their enthusiasm, their pals, their kids.. even their very adorable dogs. The expo floor was a thriving hub of friendly activity and excellent new connections this year. We especially want to thank the Free Software Foundation for helping us with promotion and accounting work as our fiscal sponsor, as well as continuing to send some of their lovely employees to SeaGL each year.

We have so many high fives to give out to our behind the scenes volunteers! Core volunteers have been showing up for weekly meetings for months. (Seriously, months of Monday night meetings.) People have pitched in over the years with many, many things like getting our volunteer info organized, making sure our prospectus is professional, hosting our website, schlepping our stuff and putting us in touch with potential speakers, sponsors and volunteers.

Our onsite volunteers this year were amazing. They warmly welcomed our attendees, they made sure our speakers were taken care of and they disposed of many dirty coffee cups and pizza boxes. They hopped in and helped each other get up to speed and they continually asked “what else can I help with?” We are very lucky to have attracted such a stellar crew this year.

Also, our lineup of speakers was off the hook this year! Two great keynotes, fifty-five informative and thought-provoking sessions, eight speedy lightning talks, six brave slide karaoke participants and two lovely party emcees! Every single one of our speakers donated their time, their energy, and their enthusiasm to help us make this community a continually learning, growing and improving place. They took time away from their families, their other hobbies or their work to be with us. Whether they travelled from Peru, or Minnesota, or just strolled down Capitol Hill, we can’t thank them enough.

Our Program Committee did a truly excellent job putting together a fantastic program this year. They deserve all the thanks for helping folks polish their talk ideas, reaching out to new speakers and for sorting though the many proposals we received. Their tremendous dedication and support of new speakers makes SeaGL a special event with fresh ideas and diverse voices.

Speaking of people who deserve all the thanks – congratulations to Lance Albertson who won this year’s Cascadia Community Builder Award! He’s a tireless champion for open source who is busy mentoring the next generation of developers and advocates at the Open Source Lab. (The OSL is always accepting donations for their work, if you are so moved.) We’d also like to thank everyone who serves on our CCBA commitee and everyone who took the time to nominate someone.

Finally, thanks to all of our attendees! We really, really like you. Did we forget anyone? Let us know @SeaGL and tag it #shoutouts

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Gareth Greenaway
October 05, 2017

Gareth Greenaway gives his talk titled, “Your Solution Is Not My Problem” on Saturday afternoon.

Gareth is also one of our illustrious party emcees! He might even wear a top hat!

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: My name is Gareth Greenaway and I’ve been an active free & open source user & supporter for over 20 years. I’m currently a senior software engineer at SaltStack where I have the fortunate privilege to spend my days writing open source code. Prior to that I’ve been a DevOps engineer at various companies. I am also an occasional co-host for the FLOSS Weekly podcast.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: When I’ve attended various talks at conferences in the past, particular those of a technical nature, it can be tempting to take the ideas & concepts in their entirety. When often times those solutions are crafted to solve a particular problem in a particular environment. It can also be tempting to think that to order to be successful those presented solutions must be emulated completely. My hope is that this talk will illustrate that this isn’t the case.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This will be my fifth SeaGL and I’ve really enjoyed attending since the first event. It’s been amazing watching it grow over the years and I always look forward to see everyone each year.

A: Question: What are you most looking forward to about visiting Seattle again? Answer: One of my favorite parts about traveling to different conferences is experiencing the different climates meeting the different people.

Saturday's Party!
October 04, 2017

Join us for a post-SeaGL reception on Saturday evening, right after the event, aka 6:15pm, at the Silver Cloud Hotel on Capitol Hill. The event is all-ages and runs until 10pm. This year’s entertainment will be lightning talks and slide karaoke led by our most excellent emcees; Gareth Greenaway and VM Brasseur.

We’ll have some snacks; including stuff for our vegan and gluten-free pals. There will also be drinks, including delicious non-alcoholic options. Expect a convivial, but not ear-bleedingly loud environment.

We’ll have door prizes from the Linux Foundation and NoStarch. Thanks to all of our fabulous sponsors for allowing us to make SeaGL and Saturday night’s party free as in cost.

For Speakers: A/V, Recording, & Presentation Tips
September 29, 2017

Hello, SeaGL (or other conference!) speakers! Our big event is only a week away, so here’s some information to help you prepare and be ready to go when you arrived.

A/V details

All rooms will have HDMI connectors (though a few may also have VGA). Please come prepared with whatever adapters you’ll need to hook up your laptop to the HDMI connector. If you forget your adapter, don’t worry. We’ll have a few on hand, just in case.

Recording your talk

Due to some administrative changes, we got a later start on organising the event than usual this year. Because of that we’re unable to record the 2017 SeaGL sessions. We don’t want to lose all of that great content, though.

We encourage all speakers to record their own talks and make them available online (more on that in a moment). Regardless of the platform you use for presenting, we have instructions for you:

The Windows instructions also include details for using Open Broadcaster Software (which is Free software) to record your screencast. These instructions will work for any platform where you can run OBS (read: pretty much all of them).

The room moderator for your talk may not be familiar with the recording instructions for your platform, so please test this out ahead of time to make sure you know how to do it.

Out of respect for everyone else using the conference wifi, we ask that you not attempt to live stream your presentation.

Sharing your slides, video, etc.

Once you’ve recorded your talk, what do you do with it? Or with your slides?

You could upload the video to YouTube and the slides to SlideShare, and if that’s your preference that’s great. But we encourage you to upload the video and the slides together to a single item at Internet Archive.

Here are instructions for uploading a video to the Archive. The exact same instructions will work for slides or any other digital material you wish to share.

If you upload your video and/or slides to Internet Archive, please include seagl2017 as a subject tag. That will make it easier for us to locate your material and share it around.

Presentation tips

Our friends at have just published an article titled 7 best practices for giving a conference talk.

If you’ve never presented at a conference before, or even if you have but are looking to improve your presentation performance, this article will help you out.

Contact us!

If you have any questions about these topics or anything else related to presenting at SeaGL, don’t hesitate to contact the program committee. Drop us a line at speakers AT seagl DOT org and let us know how we can help.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Tony Sebro
September 28, 2017

Tony Sebro gives his talk titled, “ROI: Return on Inclusion” on Friday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: Hi, I’m Tony Sebro. I currently serve as General Counsel of Software Freedom Conservancy, a public charity that educates, empowers, and defends communities that develop ethical technology. I’m also an organizer of Outreachy, an initiative that provides paid internships for people from groups underrepresented in tech to get introduced to free and open source software.

I live in Harlem with my wife, Beth, and my son, Ezra.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: I plan to discuss how FLOSS communities benefits from investing in promoting diversity.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This is my first time – and, it will be my first time attending a community-organized conference. I look forward to connecting with other attendees and learning more about how these events are organized.

Q: The Conservancy sounds great! Is there any way that our readers can support it’s work?

A: Conservancy is a public charity; we depend on the public’s generosity to carry on our work. If you’d like to support Conservancy, become a Conservancy Supporter!.

We also appreciate volunteers who donate their time and skills to help further our charitable mission. We’re always in need of skilled volunteers willing to help with systems administration, blogging, social media support, graphic design, photography and videography, web development, and documentation. And, of course, we need volunteers to help us find new mentors and applicants to participate in our Outreachy program.

If you’re interested in volunteering for Conservancy, please email us at Or, visit our IRC channel: #conservancy on freenode.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Paul English
September 28, 2017

Paul English gives his talk titled, “Detecting BadBIOS, Evil Maids, Bootkits, and Other Firmware Malware” on Friday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m the CEO of a startup, PreOS Security working on platform firmware security. Previously I was a system and network administrator, and a manager of sysadmins. I bring a defensive IT perspective to our business, and I’m trying to pick up sales and marketing skills as quickly as I can. My business partner and PreOS Security CTO Lee Fisher has given talks about platform firmware and UEFI security at SeaGL and LinuxFest Northwest in the past, and brings the firmware level expertise. Lee ran and continues to run the best blog on this topic.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Everyone, always needs to know more about cybersecurity these days - as our lives are increasingly digital, cybersecurity is just plain security. Part of life. The recent Equifax breaches illustrate the issue. Platform firmware (as opposed to IoT style “full blown operating system-as-firmware”) is an obscure area, but steadily increasing in importance. The saying in the field is “firmware is the new software.” I think in future years, scanning your firmware for malware and viruses will be just as important as operating system and application level protection. While you might gain some level of protection from attacks by running Linux or FreeBSD, as a smaller target than Windows, you’ll still be using the same firmware as everyone else! We’re in the early days, so expect a fairly technical talk, with examples of firmware-level hacks and what to expect as attacks evolve.

This seems like a good time to mention that attendees will get access to our upcoming ebook, tentatively titled “Firmware Security for Everyone” aimed as much as possible at the average person with several computing devices to manage. Everyone is a sysadmin for their own system these days. We’ll also give access to our ebook “Firmware Security for Sysadmins” aimed at people managing much larger fleets of machines.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I love SeaGl, and I’ve attended every year (except last year, unfortunately), and spoken before on “So You Want to Be a Sysadmin.” There’s nothing quite like a gathering of people all passionate about a given subject, enough to put on an event of this scale. And of course, I’m passionate about open source and Linux!

Q: Other than speaking at SeaGL, how do you contribute to OSS?

A: Like most people in the community, I’ve always provided a some amount of free technical support to and the occasional bit of documentation to help others. But I’m more excited about my first ever real open source standalone application in the form of the upcoming PreOS Security firmware scanning software. While my business partner has written most of the code, it is still exciting for me to be involved in a standalone application from start to release.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Paul Berg
September 25, 2017

Paul Berg gives his talk titled, “Giving The Public What They Pay For: Opening Government Funded Research” on Saturday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: By trade I am a computer scientist, software engineer and security engineer. I have been active in the Open Source community since the mid 1990’s and became professionally involved in software licensing in the mid 2000’s in Microsoft’s anti-piracy initiative. Later I went on to help run Amazon’s Open Source program for over 5 years and am now working with the Department of Energy of the United States to ensure Open Source best practices and to encourage heavy release of government funded software projects as Open Source.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: Yes. I had planned to attend last year, but life had other plans. I do know many of the organizers of SeaGL and know that they are some of the best in the industry so I expect it to be a very well run conference with interesting speakers on a variety of topics.

Q: What do you see as the most exciting recent development in the software industry?

A: A combination of recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, pervasive connectivity, and cloud based microservice offerings are presenting an opportunity we could only dream about just a couple of years ago. In the past we needed specialized, powerful hardware and a lot of AI know-how in order to do interesting machine learning tasks. Now we can offload the processor intensive tasks to specialized cloud services, and use off-the-shelf building blocks for pattern recognition, natural language processing and other complex tasks without requiring specialized machine learning knowledge. This allows us to focus on solving real world problems on the client side without getting bogged down in the details of the algorithms and is opening up possibilities for a tidal wave of smart applications that we are only just beginning to see.