Unique Quilt Displays Linux History for the OLF Conference

One of the most respected and long-lasting conferences in the free and open source space is Open Libre Free (OLF), originally called the Ohio Linux Fest. Launched by Ohio Linux User groups, and Ohio State University Volunteers in 2003, the conference has outlasted many splashier affairs and has attracted top-ranking speakers over the years.

This year, OLF was looking for a unique item to raffle off for a fund-raiser. Jon “maddog” Hall, Board Chair of the Linux Professional Institute, and an early supporter of OLF, furnished the raw materials.

maddog is an avid collector of swag from the many conferences he’s spoken at and attended. At this point, it’s hard for him to estimate how many T-shirts he has accumulated, but they number in the thousands.

Xen Panda Mascot
Susan Rose, one of the OLF organizers, at the railing
where the quilt was hanging at OLF.

About half of the collection is related to GNU/Linux or Unix, so it did not take too long for maddog to find 42 T-shirts appropriate to OLF. His choices include projects such as Debian, conferences such as DebConf19 and FISL 13 (Brazil), the historic Linux Symposium (Ottawa, Canada) that annually brought free software contributors together with the leaders of Linux kernel development, and of course an LPI T-shirt.

How to package this historic wealth? Well, nothing could be more appropriate in Ohio than to make a quilt. Beth Lynn Eicher, President of OLF, inspired the idea by sending maddog a coupon from a company called Project Repat that makes custom quilts from T-shirts, not only reducing landfill waste from textiles, but also generating a living wage for refugees and other marginalized workers.

From each of the 42 T-shirts, a 14-inch patch was cut by maddog and shipped to Project Repat.. A 6-by-7 patch quilt was sewn together with black fleece as a backing. LPI paid for manufacturing and shipping.

The generous donor who won the raffle is Robert Provins. The pictures attached to this article show the quilt with Susan Rose, an OLF organizer, and Robert.

maddog says, “I have been collecting things for over fifty years, and it may take me another fifty years to get rid of it all.”

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