What is the SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF)?

The SouthEast LinuxFest is a community event for anyone who wants to learn more about Linux and Open Source Software. It is part educational conference and part social gathering. Like Linux itself, it is shared with attendees of all skill levels to communicate tips and ideas, and to benefit all who use Linux and Open Source Software.  SELF is the place to learn, to make new friends, to network with new business partners, and most importantly, to have fun!   The most similar events to SELF are Linuxfest Northwest, Southern California Linux Expo, Penguicon, and Ohio Linuxfest.

What makes SELF unique?

While SELF is centered on Linux and Open Source, both desktop and enterprise, we are happy to explore related geeky areas.   We reliably have content on networking, programming, hardware, information security, amateur (“ham”) radio, and similar areas.   We also have a /dev/random track, which has proven very popular, where all bets are off in terms of content.  We’ve had everything from the Ukraine War to hardware computers used in WWI era battleships and their use in the Battle of Jutland to home automation.   Talks on these subjects are all day Friday, all day Saturday, and Sunday until after early afternoon.

The sponsors and exhibitors you’ll meet in the hallway range from our ham radio special event station W4L to community exhibitors like makerspaces to major companies behind major FOSS projects and IT service providers like datacenters and cloud providers.

In addition to running a ham radio special event station (W4L, we send QSL cards!), we offer FREE ham radio license testing for all three license classes.

SELF also leans into the social and networking aspects of an event and has a very strong “hallway track”.  Starting in 2023 we’re introducing a full time lounge.   The lounge features recharge stations, places to sit down, places to play tabletop and similar games, water and iced tea, and an around the clock LAN Party.  Food trucks are brought in for lunch.

Friday and Saturday night are our parties in the lounge.   Pizza will be provided.   These parties also feature our Craft Beer Bottle Share.   The conference will purchase an assortment of various microbrews from throughout the southeast.   You are then encouraged to bring some microbrews from your own neck of the woods, and when you get a beer from the SELF provided selection, you trade it for one of your own local beers which then becomes available to be selected by others.  Please only bring beer in forms conducive to this (read:  bottles/cans … no growlers, no made-it-at-home, no unsealed containers).

SELF is near a high quality indoor shooting range, where we have a Geeks with Guns event.  This includes having a more interesting firearm for all participants to use.   This is however a strictly pay to access event.

Have an interesting thing you want to share as a talk but don’t think it’s worth a full hour slot?   Try having a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session!  We have space set aside for ad-hoc talks/meetings on a first-come first-serve basis.

Can’t make it in person?   You can attend remote for just $5 and have the talks streamed to you live.

What does it cost to attend / What kind of attendee types are there?

SELF is FREE to attend.  You read that right.  Pay nothing, get in, have full access to the talks, full access to the lounge, full access to the expo hall, full access to the after parties.

OR … you could be a Supporting Attendee, for $50.   That gets you everything a free attendee gets plus a t-shirt and some stickers which will be very Linux penguin-ish but related to that year’s theme.

OR … you could be a Speaker by submitting a talk and having it accepted.  That gets you everything a Supporting Attendee gets plus a catered speaker’s BBQ dinner for you and a guest as well as access to the SELF hospitality suite which has around the clock food and refreshments.

OR … you could be an Individual Sponsor for $500.   That gets you everything a Speaker gets plus a thank you in the program guide.

OR … you could be a Sponsor for $500 and up.   That gets you everything an Individual Sponsor gets plus more.  See our prospectus for full details.

Will SELF ever sell my info to others?  I get enough sales emails already!

So do we!   We do not sell your info to anybody.   We do not provide your info even to sponsors even when they ask nicely.   Our way of facilitating genuine contacts at the event is that your badge will have a QR code on it which is a contact vcard.  If you want to exchange contacts with exhibitors or other attendees just take pictures of each others badge on your smartphones.   Are you a curmudgeon wearing extra tinfoil who doesn’t want contact from anybody and by the way get off my lawn?   You get to choose what is put on your vcard at registration.

How did SELF get started?

The SouthEast LinuxFest was started in 2009 by members of the Upstate Carolina Linux Users Group with help from the Charleston Linux Users Group and Columbia Linux Users Group.  Having attended other awesome events like the Ohio Linuxfest (OLF) and Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE), there was a desire to have such an event close to home so people in the southeast wouldn’t need a plane flight every year to attend such an event.   Just like with OLF and SCaLE, the organizers wanted a community ran conference about Linux and Open Source that emphasized being fun, educational, community building, community oriented, and inexpensive.  As SELF has grown and evolved it has taken on an increased Penguicon flavor including adding a lounge and having an event at a local shooting range.

Why Charlotte?

There are a few important things when deciding where SELF is located.   The cost of obtaining the venue must be reasonable to keep costs down for our sponsors and our attendees.  There must be convenient interstate travel, preferably from a major north-south and east-west interstate.  Lastly, there must be convenient air travel, meaning an air hub or at least highly competitive major regional airport.  Within those requirements, the I-85 corridor makes the most sense.   Just as I-5 is the spine of the Pacific Coast and I-95 is the spine of the Atlantic Coast, I-85 is the spine of the Deep South.    SELF will be somewhere in or very near the I-85 corridor for the foreseeable future.   Charlotte seems to be the best compromise location within the I-85 corridor.  There are plenty of venues so pricing is competitive.  It isn’t overly expensive to stay at or get there.  There are family friendly attractions to go to such as Carowinds, the US National Whitewater Center, and NASCAR Hall of Fame since SELF occurs while school is out in the summer and many people take their entire family along.  It is an easy day drive from Atlanta, Knoxville, TN Tricities, Asheville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Columbia (SC), Charleston, and Greenville-Spartanburg.   Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is a major air hub and top 25 airport worldwide in passenger volume.   Particularly for those using US Air, it can be VERY cheap to fly to SELF.   JFK to CLT is typically less than $150 round trip on US Air if booked early enough, for example.

Will the event ever be elsewhere?

Possibly, but probably not too often.    SELF is open to being elsewhere once in a while so that people throughout the southeast can have a chance to easily attend an event.   Alternative locations which make the most sense are Birmingham, Atlanta, Greenville-Spartanburg, and Raleigh.   While other locations such as Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Knoxville, Greensboro, and Asheville aren’t out of the question, a very attractive package would be necessary to offset making travel more difficult for SELF’s organizers, attendees, and sponsors.

Family Friendly?

SELF is roughly a PG-13 event.  Talks and general decorum is polite and we’re a hospitable bunch (it’s the South ya’ll!).   However, it wouldn’t be unexpected to hear the odd profane utterance from time to time.   Basically, SELF is safer in terms of adult content and language than primetime television.  If you have kid(s) or friend(s) you are considering taking to SELF but would not let them watch a primetime TV show, they are probably too young for the event.  We will not bar them from entry, but it is presumed you’re okay with a PG-13 environment if you attend.   There are some notable exceptions to this:

  • Craft Beer Bottle Share: The Craft Beer Bottle Share is an adult only event and only those with a valid government issued ID that are 21 or older will be allowed to attend.
  • Geeks with Guns: The Geeks with Guns event is generally more adult oriented, but we leave it to parents to decide the appropriate age to bring their kids to the range.  Our recommendation is that Geeks with Guns should not be your first time shooting for non-adults.  We recommend novices who are not adults get private instruction first so they can fully appreciate the safe use and operation of firearms before participating in Geeks with Guns at SELF.
  • Private conversations: Private conversations that occur outside the expo hall and tracks as well as “after hours” discussion in those areas after talks have ended at SELF are not subject to these guidelines.  If you don’t like the content of a conversation, vote with your feet and remove yourself from the conversation.  If someone refuses to respect that wish, please contact SELF staff immediately.


If we can answer questions or provide accommodations (for example: restrooms, disability equipment, allergies, etc) — that would help you feel comfortable attending SELF, please let us know by contacting us.

Contact SELF’s Organizers Before or After the Event

Please use our contact us form.

Reaching SELF’s Organizers During the Event

We care about the safety of everyone.  If at any point you need to speak to SELF staff, please go to registration.  They will be able to quickly reach conference organizers.  Overnight, SELF hires an off-duty law enforcement officer for security.  This off-duty officer should be at or within eyesight of registration at all times throughout the night.  And 24/7 for all days of the event you can ask the hotel staff in the lobby to contact SELF staff and they can do so.  Additionally, the hotel is used by flight crews servicing Charlotte-Douglas International and thus typically has a law enforcement presence in the lobby at night.

Code Of Conduct

SELF expects everyone to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully.  If you need assistance relating to conduct of another person at the event, please contact SELF organizers.

Gold Sponsors

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Bronze Sponsors

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Supporting Sponsors