5 great linux.conf.au talks (that aren't about Linux)

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linux.conf.au, otherwise known as LCA, is one of the world's longest-running open source events. LCA has been held in a different city around Australia and New Zealand almost every year since 1999. Despite the name, linux.conf.au is a generalist open source conference. LCA hasn't been just about Linux for a long time. Rather, the conference focuses on everything to do with open source: the software, hardware, and network protocols that underly it. LCA also has a strong track on free and open culture, exploring how open source interacts with science, government, and the law.

The call for proposals for the 2017 linux.conf.au conference, which will be held in beautiful Hobart, Tasmania, is open until Friday, August 5. To celebrate, I collected five great LCA talks from the past few years that aren't focused on Linux.

Radia Perlman—Keynote (linux.conf.au 2013 in Canberra, Australia)

linux.conf.au is known for deeply engaging keynotes from people who've developed important parts of the open source toolbox. Radia Perlman, then a Fellow at Intel, gave a standout technical keynote at the 2013 conference in Canberra. Radia's talk provided a historical perspective on the growth of the Internet, and appealed for simplicity when designing new network protocols.

Michael Cordover—Using FOI to get source code: the EasyCount experience (linux.conf.au 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand)

Even though governments produce a lot of software, for source code to be released alongside software written for the public is still uncommon. In 2015, Michael Cordover shared his story about using Australia's Freedom of Information process to obtain the source code for software that is used to count votes for Australia's notoriously complicated Senate elections. Michael's talk highlights the sheer amount of work that needs to be done for governments to understand why access to source code is so important for public software.

Mark Nottingham—HTTP/2 and You (linux.conf.au 2014 in Perth, Australia)

LCA is also a great place to learn about how technology is changing in the future. At LCA 2014 in Perth, Western Australia, Mark Nottingham, who chaired the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF)'s HTTP working group gave a talk about HTTP/2. At the time, HTTP/2 was a draft standard, and didn't become finalised until more than a year later. His talk gave fascinating insight into how HTTP/2, when finished, would solve problems with web performance that previously relied on terrible hacks to solve.

Peter Gutman—Cryptography Won't Save You Either (linux.conf.au 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand)

Security researcher Peter Gutman's talk runs through a frighteningly long list of ways to bypass cryptography in consumer products—from TVs, to Android phones, to ATMs. Even though Peter's list didn't discriminate between open source and closed products, it's an alarming reminder not to rely on cryptography to solve all of our security problems.

One word of warning: Peter is an unbelievably fast speaker, so it's a good idea to listen at half speed (YouTube has a playback speed setting, which can help).

Michael Davies—Getting your CFP abstract accepted 101 (linux.conf.au 2014 in Perth, Australia)

Now that you've seen some of the the talks, technical and otherwise, that make linux.conf.au a unique conference, why not find out what it takes to get a proposal accepted to the conference. In 2014, one of linux.conf.au's program chairs gave a talk on how to get a talk proposal accepted. Why not watch it, and find out exactly how to make an amazing conference talk proposal?

linux.conf.au 2017's call for proposals is open until Friday, August 5.

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Christopher is an programmer who lives in the Tasmanian city of Hobart. He's strongly interested in developing the Australian and International Python communities: he is a past convenor of PyCon Australia, and has been a fellow of the Python Software Foundation since 2013. Right now, he's leading the team running linux.conf.au in Hobart in January 2017.

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