Red Hat Summit is primarily about bringing together our customers and partners to help share practical IT insights and solutions to their computing problems. But, well, we're Red Hat. We also like to have a little fun with it and mix it up a little. Here's a few things about past Red Hat Summits you may not know, and you never know what might happen this year! 

The Red Hat Free Press

Smartphones have changed a lot about the conference-going experience. One of the first things I do when attending a major conference these days is download the conference app and use it to navigate my schedule and get updates about the event. (Pro-tip, download the Summit app as soon as it's available if you're going this year!)

Red Hat Free Press header

But in the musty old days before everybody had smartphones, you know 10 years ago or more, we made do with paper schedules and (in the case of Red Hat Summit), a daily newspaper. The Red Hat Free Press was a "daily" that was put together the night before. Ruth Suehle, senior manager, Community Outreach says that The Red Hat Free Press ran for several years, and got its start in Boston.

"The first five Red Hat Summit events were held in different cities. Although now it is held in Boston every other year, in 2008, we were there for the first time," says Suehle. "Themes around the event were tied strongly to location; for example, the Summit logo that year featured Faneuil Hall. In the spirit of Boston's rich news printing history, we created the Free Press, a daily newspaper for attendees with highlights from the previous day, interviews with speakers, and--because there were only six tracks then--the entire daily schedule."

Unfortunately, we don't do the Free Press anymore, but it does mean that we don't have Red Hatters squirreling away at the paper until 1 a.m. during Summit. 

A perfectly cromulent keynoter embiggens any conference

Red Hat Summit has had some big name speakers to headline the general sessions. IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were on stage with Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst last year, for example. We've had too many others to list, but did you know that in addition to tech luminaries we've had our own keynoter from The Simpsons? 

In 2008, Joel Cohen (then a writer and associate producer for The Simpsons), gave a keynote at the fourth annual Red Hat Summit. "The Business Tao of Homer: Lessons in Creativity and Innovation from The Simpsons" was reportedly very funny and a big hit with the audience. Sadly, we don't have video of the keynote as we do with more recent Summits.

We do know, from an interview Cohen granted to the Free Press that Red Hat Enterprise Linux was used to help create The Simpsons Movie. Cohen said that the final product was hand-drawn, RHEL was used for helping the team during the "writing and re-writing" phase where things were being changed at a "furious pace." 

"For that purpose, crudely animated scenes were produced with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Linux animation technology, so our animators were able to show us these scenes incredibly quickly," said Cohen. "Once a scene or piece of a scene was approved, it would begin the more traditional animation route; however, the volume and speed of material that was created for the movie could never have been done without that Red Hat-fueled system."

123456 for the first time live

Last year Fitz and the Tantrums had a top 20 Billboard hit with their song "123456." If you're a fan, or a chart-follower, you probably knew that already. 

But if you went to the Red Hat Summit party that Fitz and the Tantrums headlined last year, you got to hear "123456" live for the first time. 

As an avid concert-goer, there's nothing like being able to say "yeah, I saw that live the first time the band played it." Who knows what Vampire Weekend might add to the setlist for this year's Summit party

Singing the gospel of open source

Detractors and supporters have likened the free and open source software movement to a religion. Mostly it means that FOSS folks tended to be very passionate about the cause in the early days. Sometimes, though, proponents might take it to the next level. 

Kathryn Poole, senior director in marketing communications, reports that "a local gospel choir joined then CEO Matthew Szulik onstage to sing "Oh Happy Day" as well as an original song written for the Summit and Matthew about open source. Matthew wore a custom designed gospel robe, they don't come standard for 6'5 men." 

Going to the Summit and we're gonna get married

At a major tech conference, you expect to witness partnership announcements where two companies get up on stage and affirm their commitments to working together for their customers. You might even be there for a big unveil with a surprise announcement between "rival" companies, but nobody expects an actual unveiling.

But that's pretty much what happened in 2016, when Paul Cormier presided over the ceremony between Shannon Montague, an American sign language interpreter, and Matt Hargrave, a senior Linux engineer with GM Financial. (OK, technically the bride did not have a veil, but that is where the term comes from. Work with me.) 

How we've grown...

In 2009 we held the 5th annual Red Hat Summit in Chicago and Jim Whitehurst's keynote had about 1,500 people in attendance. Ten years later we held the 15th annual Summit with about 8,500 people in attendance for Jim's general session.

What happens next?

Red Hat Summit is all about learning, collaborating, and planning for serious business--but it just wouldn't be Red Hat if we didn't do the unexpected, unusual, or just plain fun from time to time. What's going to happen this year? The only way to know for sure is to be there! 

Register today using the RHBLOG20 code and save $100 off registration fees. (Code only valid once per attendee, and can't be combined with other offers.) 

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Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.

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