Kiwi Linux gets lift from conference

It got more than a few Australians peeved and stirred up controversy, but the successful Dunedin, New Zealand, bid for Linux Australia's 2006 conference married slick planning and Kiwi ingenuity.

The week-long conference, at the University of Otago, has attracted 500 delegates from around the world.

Linux Australia president Jonathan Oxer is adamant Dunedin was an inspired choice. The nonprofit incorporated association accepts competing conference bids in the same way as the International Olympic Committee does.

Linux Australia conferences have been rotated around major Australian cities since 1999, but when a Dunedin team of Linux users led by Mike Beattie stuck their oar in with a compelling proposal, Oxer and his executive were convinced it would be worth taking some heat by shooting across the ditch rather than accepting a competing bid from Melbourne.

"At the time the decision had to be made, the Dunedin team were much more advanced in their planning," Oxer says.

"They'd put together really a good proposal and they had a good concept of what they wanted, so we decided Dunedin was the better bid.

"At the time we had a bit of controversy from people asking 'how can you have an Australian conference in NZ. The [Dunedin] team was so well organized, and ultimately the objective has to be to provide the best conference possible for the community or members of the organization.

"Whether that happens in Australia or offshore is neither here nor there," Oxer says.

"There are advantages to both approaches. If there are enough people interested within New Zealand to have critical mass and make a local organization happen, that would be fantastic."

Oxer says at the very least, holding the conference in Dunedin has certainly raised the profile of Linux and open-source within New Zealand. "That has to be a good thing."

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