PyCon Personality: Vern Ceder


As I continue to highlight PyCon planners in prepartion for PyCon this week in Atlanta, Georgia, I'd like to introduce you to Vern Ceder, PyCon planner, Python developer, and author.

Amber Graner: Can you tell us a little about you and your role with the PyCon? How long you have worked on this event?

Vern Ceder: I’ve been going to PyCon since 2003. For the past several years I’ve helped organize the Python in Education BoF and done a little onsite volunteering,. Last year, picking up a suggestion from Steve Holden, I proposed that PyCon offer a poster session. In the PyCon world your suggestions have a much higher likelihood of being adopted if you’re willing to also step forward and work to make them happen, so I became the chair of the poster session.

Last years poster session, with 17 posters, was quite a success. A lot of people liked the poster session -: it gave more people a chance to present a PyCon, particularly if they were not comfortable with the spotlight of a regular talk or if they had topic that was too generic, or too esoteric, or too whatever to win a regular talk spot. Presenters also liked the fact that the poster session is plenary session, so they could interact with a huge crowd of people.

This year I was asked to chair the poster session again, and we’ve more than doubled the size of the session to 35 posters. This years posters cover an incredible array of interesting topics, from community management and open book making, to super computing, climate modeling and hardware hacking. The only problem will be in seeing all of the posters you’re interested in within the time available.

AG: Since most event planners in the FOSS community are volunteers, what is your day job?

VC: For the past *cough* years, I’ve been the Director of Technology at Canterbury School, an independent college prep school in Ft Wayne, IN. I also teach programming, both at Canterbury and online through Northwestern’s Gifted Learning Links. Starting in April, I’ll be the main Python developer at, a B-to-SMB e-commerce start-up in the Chicago area.

AG: How did you get involved in FOSS? What was your first Open Source/Linux distribution and when? What do you use now and why?

VC: I got started in FOSS using MSDOS ports of tools like AWK, in the early 90’s. My first Linux distro was Yggdrasil in around 1995, I think. Then around 2000 I started using both Linux and Python seriously at work and for personal things. I was one of the founding organizers of our Linux Users Group ( in 2003. My participation increased pretty steadily over the past 10 years, mainly because both the Python and Linux communities are so open—if you want to participate, it usually just requires stepping forward and doing it.

Right now I use a blend of Ubuntu and Debian for most things, with Debian going on older hardware. I’ve been using Ubuntu since Warty first came out, so I’m just comfortable with Debian based distros and the way that they do things. I’ve also used Tinycore a bit, though.

On the Python side, I mostly have to use 2.x versions, although I’m hoping to move more to 3.x as libraries get ported.

AG: If someone wanted to get involved with the PyCon, how would that go about volunteering? What areas do you need the most help in?

Getting involved with PyCon is a very simple two step process:

1. Sign up for the PyCon organizers mailing list.

2. Speak up and pitch in when things come up.

Simple as that process is, there’s an even more streamlined way. Since we always need people to help at the conference - session chairs, runners, things like that - go to volunteer page on our website and pick a job, and then just show up at PyCon!

AG: How do you see the future of the PyCon? What numbers do you hope to sustain?

VC: I’ve been going to PyCon’s since the first one in 2003 where there were something like 200 attendees. Now we’re aiming for 1500. I think maybe holding at that level for a couple years might be good idea.

AG: For people planning to attend PyCon what are the hastags you all are using for the PyCon for micro-blogging sites such as and Twitter. Is there a Facebook Group? Where and what else can they do to help spread the word about the PyCon these final planning days before the event?
VC: #pycon of course... and we are using quite a bit.

AG: Is there anything about the PyCon that I haven't asked that you would like to tell me about?

In my humble opinion PyCon is the most fun and the most rewarding conference of the year. ‘Nuff said!

For more information PyCon or how you can help or attend the event visit the PyCon Website.


Follow along as Ubuntu enthusiast and Community organizer Amber Graner helps put the "You" in Ubuntu.

Amber Graner is an active Ubuntu community member and organizer who encourages everyone around her to participate, support, and learn about Ubuntu and Open Source. With a smile and a sense of humor, Amber reminds people that there is a place for everyone in the Ubuntu community – regardless of technical skill level (or lack thereof). She is constantly looking for people, places, and events within the Ubuntu community that help inspire Ubuntu users to participate actively within the Ubuntu community. Email Amber at amber AT ubuntu-user DOT com.


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