delegates can expect a high-profile surprise with the revelation that Linux pioneer Linus Torvalds is attending their conference in Perth this week.

Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel and a guru to the open source community, will join an already high-profile speaker list. That list includes names such as legendary Linux kernel hackers Alan Cox, Paul “Rusty” Russell, PHP innovator Rasmus Lerdorf and OSDN director Jeff Bates.

This year’s conference is set to be one of the biggest in Australia, with 359 registered attendees. According to Jeff Waugh, Gnome project coordinator and one of the guest speakers at the conference, “ is Australia’s premier developer-oriented open source and free software conference. It is a pretty special event for everyone in the community. Meeting face-to-face with your co-developers is very useful”.

So what do Linux enthusiasts expect to get out of the conference? “Friends we rarely get to see face-to-face, sharing our knowledge and work, dragging overdressed Europeans to the beach in the Australian summer, hacking away at cool new code… and being able to thank the people who work on your favourite software,” Waugh added.

Despite its size, the conference is still community-based. “ has always been fully volunteer-driven, and with around 400 delegates every year, many international guests and speakers, and support from significant players in the IT industry such as Sun and IBM, pulling it off is no mean feat,” says Waugh.

Stay tuned for more information on 2003 as ZDNet Australia will be covering the conference.