Speaker Interview: Nathan Willis

Nathan Willis will be giving a presentation at SCALE 12X on "The Free Ride," discussing Linux in automobiles. The SCALE Team caught up with Nathan and asked him about his talk.

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

A: I'm Nate Willis; I'm a journalist by day, writing for the Linux/FOSS news site LWN.net. But my interest in free software goes beyond that; I also work on my own personal projects—mostly on open fonts, where I do some revivals of pre-digital typefaces as well original designs.  I also pitch in to help with some community events like Texas Linux Fest and Libre Graphics Meeting.

Q: You're giving a talk on "The Free Ride." Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: I'm going to be talking about automotive Linux—i.e., open source software in your car. Right now there are a dozen or so active projects and initiatives working in this space, but a lot of them can be hard to tell apart from the outside. So I'm going to go over a breakdown of who is working on which pieces of the puzzle, where they compete, where they complement, and most importantly what you can download and run right now. Automotive is a huge growth area for the next few years and right now, there are no "entrenched players" with a monopoly to overcome. That makes this a vital area for FOSS enthusiasts and developers to get involved in: you can help shape the future of this enormous emerging market, and make sure that it's open and free from the very beginning.

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

A: Heavens no; this is more like the sixth or seventh.  It is the first time I'll be speaking, however.  I'm expecting a big, enthusiastic crowd of attendees, like always, and hopefully one that's not shy about asking questions of the speakers.  I'm also expecting the schedule to be so packed with interesting talks that we'll all get furious about how many excellent sessions we have to _miss_ just because it's so hard to choose.  But we'll let that fury out in friendly, nonconfrontational ways, of course.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: My favorite thing about SCALE is going into a curiously-titled session not knowing what to expect, and hearing something really off the wall that I never would have discovered just by browsing mailing lists or release announcements.  So I hope everyone takes a shot and goes to some weird-sounding talks that raise a lot of questions. Discovering all of those interesting personal projects and new avenues for free software is what makes a community conference like SCALE an experience that you can't get elsewhere.

[SCALE Team interview by Larry Cafiero]