Jono Bacon's Top Open Source Conference Picks for 2017

Jono BaconMany of you reading this will be fans of open source who would love to get out and meet open source leaders, companies, and users at conferences. With most of us having to prioritize conferences either due to budgetary or family reasons (or both), knowing which events we should prioritize can be difficult.

I have spent my career treading the boards from conference to conference all over the world, so I figured I would share some of the conferences that I would heartily recommend for 2017.

Now, a few notes in how I picked this list:

  • I am focusing on general open source conferences. As such, I am leaving out the more specialist conferences (ApacheCon, DebConf, FudCon, etc.).
  • I am only considering conferences I have personally attended. I have first-hand experience at all of these.
  • I am basing my reviews on (a) how interesting the conference is, (b) how well it is run, (c) how interesting and fun the attendees are, and (d) how valuable it is for those of us with an active passion or career in open source.
  • Finally, these are my opinions. I am sure some of you will disagree with me.

So, without further ado, let’s get going with my 2017 top conference picks.

Attendees at OSCON 2016 in AustinImage by O'Reilly Conferences (Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

OSCON (and the Community Leadership Summit)

Where: USA

When: May 8–11, 2017 (The Community Leadership Summit takes place the weekend before on May 6–7, 2017 in the same venue.)

Why: Professional conference, well-known speakers, very well organized.

Am I going? Yes, to the Austin event.

OSCON has a long, long heritage as a regular spot for open source denizens. Organized by O’Reilly and traditionally taking place in Portland each year, OSCON was moved to Austin last year to freshen up the location, speakers, and attendees. It worked, and last year’s event was popular.

OSCON is more of a professional conference than many of the cons, with well-known keynote speakers, a huge roster of speakers, training tutorials, and many evening events each night. It is a big conference with lots going on at any one time.

If you are working professionally in open source, you should attend OSCON. The content, the structure, and the networking with attendees is fantastic.

Also, I run the Community Leadership Summit the weekend before OSCON, so if you want to come and help shape the future of community leadership, be sure to join us there too.

The crowd at LinuxCon Berlin 2016 during a keynoteThe crowd at LinuxCon Berlin 2016 during a keynote (Image by the Linux Foundation on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Open Source Summit (and Community Leadership Conference)

Where: USA, Czech Republic, Japan

When: May 31, 2017 to June 2, 2017 (Tokyo, Japan)

September 11–13, 2017 (Los Angeles, USA)

October 23–25, 2017 (Prague, Czech Republic)

Why: Great content, great networking, and available in many locations.

Am I going? Yes, to the USA and Europe events.

Previously known as LinuxCon, the recently renamed Open Source Summit is one of the flagship conferences from the Linux Foundation. It brings together some of the top names in open source and, in particular, those the business of open source.

The Open Source Summit mixes together impressive keynotes, a wide roster of talks and panels, and evening events. While the event is open to everyone, it tends to attract an audience that is in the open source industry. As such, the networking is beneficial, particularly if you work professionally in open source.

The Open Source Summit is a little different to most conferences because it is an umbrella event that encompasses four sub-conferences—LinuxCon, ContainerCon, CloudOpen, and the Community Leadership Conference. The latter event, the Community Leadership Conference is a new event I will be leading as part of the Open Source Summit in the USA and Europe.

Attendees at All Things Open 2016 in Raleigh, NC, USAAttendees at All Things Open 2016 in Raleigh, NC, USA (Photo by All Things Open on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

All Things Open

Where: Raleigh, USA

When: October 23–24, 2017

Why: An excellent mix of community and commercial, great talks, and friendly organizers and attendees.

Am I going? No. Unfortunately, it coincides with the Open Source Summit and Community Leadership Conference this year.

Last year, I attended All Things Open for the first time and was extremely impressed. The primary organizer, Todd Lewis, and his team have worked intensely on this relatively new show and have attracted some great names in open source and beyond to speak. The con offers a very useful and comprehensive set of talks, panels, and other content.

All Things Open has a slightly different feel to other more corporate open source conferences. It has a distinct personality that runs through it. This is why I have added it to my annual rotation of events I am getting out to.

If you want to a attend a show that has a great mixture of community and company, All Things Open is an excellent choice.

SCALE 14x event photoPhoto by Elizabeth K. Joseph-Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

SoCal Linux Expo (SCALE)

Where: Pasadena, USA

When: March 2–5, 2017

Why: Great community feel, strong content, and fun attendees.

Am I going? Yes.

I have something of a soft spot for SCALE. The first time I attended was back when it was a little conference put on by some local LA Linux user groups. While SCALE has grown into a large and popular event, it hasn’t lost any of the personality and charm that it formed back in the early days.

SCALE is a different kind of conference and more of an enthusiast's show. This is not to say it isn't a tremendously valuable show for people working professionally in open source, and it boasts extensive commercial sponsorship and participation, but the show really does cater to the needs of the community first and foremost.

What results is a show with distinctive personality and charm. That, backed up by a tremendously friendly organizational team, results in a fun, informative, and enjoyable event. I will be there every year, for sure.

Attendees at 2016Attendees at 2016 (Image by Brett James on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Where: Hobart, Australia

When: January 16–20, 2017

Why: Community vibe, great content, fun attendees.

Am I going? Sadly, not, due to time conflicts., or LCA, has been around for many years. I have only been out to two of them myself, one being last year, but both times they were well worth attending. is similar in many ways to SCALE, but has a particular focus on serving the needs of the local community. It has become one of the primary events for people in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia to attend. As someone based on the other side of the world I always enjoy seeing a different and fresh group of people.

Conference-wise the show offers some great keynotes, plenty of talks, and the evening events are always fun. What makes special are the people and the sense of community that bubbles through the event’s veins.

Notable mentions

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some additional conferences that have given me a great experience. Now, the caveat here is that some of these I haven’t been to for a while, so your mileage may vary. They are very much worth exploring:

So, that is it. What do you think? Do you have recommendations for conferences that I missed off the list? Well, be sure to share them in the comments

Top open source conference picks for 2017 was authored by Jono Bacon and published in It is being republished by Open Health News under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0). The original copy of the article can be found here.