The perks of catering to an open source community

“Oh, we know the Yocto Project, we use it for one of our projects.”

“So nice to hear that! So, what do you guys do?”

“We build software for rockets.”

This kind of conversation happens during conferences more often that you might think. The Yocto Project is helping a lot of developers and companies get their projects off the ground. We are happy and pleased whenever we find out about it. Unfortunately there is no way of listing or counting all projects and developers that use our tools. By definition, everything is up for grabs, so conferences remain wonderful places to get in touch with our audience. This was proven once again at the Embedded Linux Conference in San Jose at the end of April.
We planned our presence at the Embedded Linux Conference months ahead. We decided we should ship there the booth; we lined up speakers and signed up for sessions, decided on giveaways and other goodies to give whoever visited our booth. And since no tech conference is the same without demos, we also reached out to people in the project and to the participants in order to put together an appealing set of demos for the booth. Things were planned, things were good, even booth coverage was taken into consideration. However, our presence at ELC NA turned out to be so much cooler, and all thanks to open source developers we did not know about!

It all began when unpacking the boxes with the booth. We found many "leftover" giveaways in the boxes from previous conferences, so we suddenly discovered that we could give away t-shirts, keyboard cleaners, and stickers. Obviously we did not plan for that, but no one said no.

It continued with the demos. On the first day we had a Toaster demo, and another ARM demo with the latest YP 1.6 build. Initially we were also expecting a MinnowBoard demo. That ended up running between booths in the form of K-9, the replica of the robot dog from Doctor Who. But then, day 2 came. And with it came another demo. A developer brought a Raspberry Pi board. Another YP build was running on the board, and the engineer who brought it was using it in his car as a radio. You could actually listen to broadcast music while at the booth.

Final day came, and this is when the team really got creative. Some folks from Atmel brought over one of their boards with a touchscreen as a demo. We were offering some power bricks as giveaways. The kind that you can use to charge your phone or tablet using your laptop, and these ones were actually planned. Our team powered up some bricks, and then started using them in order to power up the ARM, Raspberry Pi, and Atmel boards. The demos kept running. It was fun, it was creative, it drew people in to our booth, and it populated the idea that the Yocto Project is really for everybody. The possibilities of using the tools are endless, and we hope to hear about more and more projects in the future as well. When you see us next at a conference, please don’t hesitate to stop by. We might help you build the next super charged power brick rocket.