SCaLE 20X Retrospective

SCaLE 20X Retrospective

Folks from all over the open source world descended upon Pasadena, California for a weekend full of talks, workshops and fellowship. The 20th anniversary of the preeminent Linux expo boasted an impressive lineup of presenters from computing legend and UNIX co-creator Ken Thompson to Arun Gupta, vice president and general manager of Open Ecosystem Initiatives at Intel Corporation. Between the workshops and presentations, conference goers could explore the exhibition hall and its numerous booths adorned with an equal amount of conversation and enticing swag.

The Booth

In booth #318, conference goers were greeted by the unmistakable bright orange of Ubuntu. The trademark ‘Circle of Friends’ banner was flanked by multiple devices running various versions and builds of Ubuntu: 22.04 LTS, 22.10, 23.04 Daily and even Ubuntu Touch were all proudly represented. Interested participants were encouraged to take the machines for a test drive, ask questions, tell us their Ubuntu story and gather some official Ubuntu swag for their collection.

A little something for everyone

The Team

The Ubuntu booth was made possible by the incredible volunteers who spent countless hours preparing the table, chatting with conference attendees and advocating for our community. At any point during the multi-day conference, you were likely to spot the following individuals:

Nathan Haines - Community Council Member and Linux author
Aaron Prisk (Myself) - Community Engineer at Canonical
Simon Quigley - Ubuntu Member and Core Dev
Riley Quigley - Student and Swag Aficionado
George Mulak - Long time Linux user and Ubuntu advocate
Monica Ayhens-Madon - Community Council Member and Ubuntu advocate
Richard Gaskin - Software Developer and Ubuntu advocate

Getting ready for the doors to open

monica@scale:~$ sudo apt-get install coffee

The Connections

While exchanging stickers and pins is always good fun, the real value in a community conference is the human connections that are forged. The Ubuntu booth was home to scores of incredible conversations. We spoke with students looking to sharpen their Linux skills or dive into Ubuntu for the first time. Developers and engineers were thrilled to learn about Multipass, Microk8s and Ubuntu Pro. The Lunar Lobster workstation attracted a flock of curious users who were excited to get a sneak peek at the next iteration of Ubuntu.

The engagement didn’t stop at the edge of our booth, amazing conversations and discoveries were easy to find all over the convention center. The lads from the Lutris booth were showcasing an Ubuntu powered Nintendo Switch appropriately dubbed Switchbuntu. The fine folks over at the Meta station gave us a quick tour of their incredible ML platform running on Kubuntu.

A PyTorch demo running on Kubuntu 22.04 at the Meta Booth

In the evenings, there was cheerful comradery among fellow community members (often with food and drink involved).

Orange meets Green - An Ubuntu and OpenSUSE dinner

The Closing

SCaLE perfectly represents what makes the Linux and open source community so unique. You have students, hobbyists, programmers, engineers, managers, sales representatives and executives all coming together to learn, share their knowledge and create lasting relationships. The folks behind SCaLE have managed to grow the conference from a small hotel room event to a stadium sized venue all while keeping that personal, tight knit feeling alive.

You can expect Ubuntu to be at next years SCaLE Expo – Just look for the bright orange booth!

Did you go to SCaLE 20X? Tell us about your experience below!


It was so fun to see you all at SCaLE! I was glad to share my Nintendo Switch running Ubuntu at your booth! Sorry I didn’t take any pix, but it was a wonderful time.


I loved having your Switch at the booth. It was a big hit, and I only wish I could’ve answered a bit more about it. So I’ll just have to study more about it for next year!


Aaron, this was a fantastic write up! Your caption under that photo is absolutely brilliant. I’ll do my best to add my account!

This year was just as fun working the booth as a community volunteer. Nathan and George are amazing local community volunteers and long time SCaLE attendees, and getting to help them out in representing the project and welcoming people to the booth is a great experience.

SCaLE has also become a family event for me for a few reasons. I’m originally from California, and my dad and I have geeked out together since I was small. Last year, my dad met me at SCaLE, hung out a lot at the booth with us, and got immersed in the world of Linux. This year, my husband, who has been a Linux user since the days of Hardy Heron, joined in on the fun, and I hope this is a tradition we can keep up for years to come.

Linux (Booth Staff) in Space!

SCaLE is in Pasadena, and you know what else is in Pasadena? JPL! A few months ago I reached out to Tom Barber, a fellow former Canonicaler who is currently a contractor for JPL working on the Deep Space Network. I asked if there might be a way to get a Linux or open source focused tour, and he put me in touch with Val, a data scientist who soon had to recruit a coworker, Lewis, to get our entire group! And that group was the Ubuntu booth crew and their families (my two, and @tsimonq2 's awesome brother Riley), a whole bunch of the SoCalSUSE gang who help out at a lot of the community booths, one of the Debian crew, and Michael Tunnell from Destination Linux!

Our tour hit all the highlights, and here’s a few:

The family that nerds together! John, me, and my dad in the exhibit hall

The Europa Clipper under construction in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility

Coffee break at the JPL Starbucks

Probably where they hide the Raspberry Pi stash

Mars! Okay, not really Mars, but Pasadena pretending to be Mars to test drive rover models

Holy freaking crap, it’s JPL’s Mission Control

Happy Linux geeks, with Ubuntu orange front and center

At the booth

Obviously, I helped keep the booth caffeinated, which wasn’t an easy task! The coffee pots were only out for limited times, and the Starbucks at the convention center closed at two in the afternoon, which was obviously not ideal. But on one of the coffee runs to the next closest Starbucks on Saturday afternoon, when we were all running on fumes, the most wonderful encounter happened. I was in my orange polo, and my barista smiled at me and said “I love Ubuntu!” Turns out she’s been using it for years, and with any luck she’ll be at SCaLE next year. I came back after the booths closed to drop off one of the new pins and a flash drive - she’d already left for the day but I hope that brought as much joy to her as her conversation did to me.

And honestly, that’s the best thing about community conferences - the people. Almost everyone who came to the booth had a story - how long they’d been using Ubuntu, how their whole family used it, how they’d put it on their Switch (@s31bz you are welcome at every SCaLE, seriously), or how they used it to drive innovation for the Los Angeles city government. And what’s even more special about SCaLE is how many kids are there. There’s a whole day’s track dedicated to them on Saturday, and it was exciting to chat with them and share what some of the young adults in our community, like @rs2009 and @itzswirlz , are doing. It would be great to see us have a strong presence in this part of SCaLE next year.

Better Together

Another one of the great things you notice at events like this is that we all have so much more in common. So many openSUSE people came with us to JPL because they are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Riley got more swag than anyone could imagine because he got to know everyone at SCaLE, and I mean everyone! He jumped in and helped at our booth, and then did that for so many others. Ken Gilmer, the head of Regolith, had his booth and we made sure to keep a healthy sticker exchange - just like we did with the GNOME booth. Jill from Destination Linux has enough positive energy and joy to power the entire state of California. There’s so much cooperation and conviviality - and any competition has lots of healthy banter and so many bad packaging puns. It’s just a good environment to be in.

Thanks and encouragement

This trip was only possible thanks to the Ubuntu Community Fund, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the help in applying - and for the fund itself. Getting our community out to conferences like SCaLE, LAS, Akademy, GUADEC, etc. is so important - it builds knowledge but maybe even more crucially, it builds relationships. Community is the heart of open source, and these events put building community at their heart. So if you’re an Ubuntu member and you have a great idea for a talk at a conference like this, and/or want to help represent Ubuntu there, go for it. You’ll be so glad you did.