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how Linus was asked to talk at DebConf

Hi everybody,

Seeing the comments in the previous thread, I think having the context
on how Linus was asked to have a Q&A session at DebConf might be interesting
for some of you.

First of all, DebConf organization didn't invited Linus to attend and speak
to DebConf. We only had one invited speaker this year and it was Biella.

A DebConf attendee, ckk, who is not involved in DebConf organization,
mailed Linus privately on Saturday 23 and invited him to the Key Signing Party
and asked if he would be willing to do a Q&A session.
Linus replied on the evening of the Wednesday 27. He said he has been
told by somebody already about DebConf (and this person happens to be a
DD, FWIW) and that was easy for him to go to PSU and do a Q&A if the time
fit his schedule. Ckk forwarded us this mail exchange with Linus and asked
about the procedure to schedule him as an ad-hoc session.

For people who have not attended DebConf, an ad-hoc session is a session
which is not part of DebConf's official program but is an impromptu session
scheduled during DebConf [1]

I replied the same Wednesday to ckk that maybe we could do an exception
in the ad-hoc scheduling -- this is, schedule with more than 24h of
anticipation -- and told him the times we had space. I went to sleep
and expected other members of the talks team to read the email and
say something about Linus coming.

On Thursday morning, I read at IRC that at least two other members of the
talks team were OK about Linus coming. ckk replied it was better we
directly contact Linus. I saw no problem with scheduling Linus because
in fact, ckk could have scheduled his own ad-hoc session about
Linux development and invite Linus to it. [2]

While mailing Linus in Thursday morning, I met the DPL and asked
him if he would be OK approving to pay a couple of hours extra for
the ballroom if Linus accepted to come on Sunday (when we only had
the ballroom in the afternoon and only tha talk room). I also met
Michael Banck who was scheduling the ad-hoc talks and I told him
about the possibility of an ad-hoc talk with Linus.

Linus replied a couple of hours later accepting to come on Friday
8pm and I scheduled the session and went to look for a moderator
before mailing back to Linus with the confirmation.  From the talks
team, Daniel seemed the best suited person to moderate and he accepted
but understandably, he wasn't thrilled about it, since he had to moderate
the session without time to prepare it properly.
I was suggested that Kees might be happy to do this moderation job, but
when asked, he told me he wouldn't be around Friday evening.

Then, I scheduled Linus's Q&A in the biggest room we had on Friday 8pm,
the room 327-8 and for me, that was all. We would need to forbid some
people to enter the room once the room was full but if the video team
accepted to record it, they could just follow the streaming.
Somebody told me to announce about Linus coming loudly. Knowing
the room capacity problem, I decided to go for the minimum: a quick
email to debconf-announce. Without any social media: identi.ca/debian,
twitter.com/debian or Google+.

After the announcement the local team told me I should have told
them in advance. I understand it wouldn't have hurt telling them
in advance about it at the same time, but I was trying to schedule
it as any other ad-hoc talk. Just one that could have more expectation.
A member of the local team told me they were concerned about Linus'
behavior and I said I would send him the confirmation email with
a link to the code of conduct. You can read the email below [3].
The email also mentioned a moderator and that's probably why Linus
asked about it later.

After the email, I realized how excited people were about the session.
I knew the event was interesting for some people, but most of
the attendees seemed to be looking forward to this.

And that's pretty much all from me. After this, the local team,
understandably, was concerned about the room capacity becoming a
security problem and they decided to rent the ballroom for Friday
night and move Linus there. We also got some mail and comments
in IRC about people concerned about this. I personally think
it was a good move, but it gave the false sensation that the talk
was more important for Debconf that it really was.


[1] See the list of ad-hoc sessions from this year at:

[2] In fact, this year we had at least an accepted presentation where
somebody submitted a talk, the talks team thought this person would be
presention but the talk submitter let other people to present the talk

[3] "
It appears on the schedule now:

Daniel Kahn Gillmor will do the moderation.

As every conference these days, we have a code of conduct for speakers
and attendees. You can find it at http://www.debconf.org/codeofconduct.shtml

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