SCALE Linux and free software convention returns to Pasadena for first time since COVID lockdown

The Southern California Linux Expo and the city of Pasadena are getting back together.

Known by its acronym SCALE, the convention for lovers of the Linux computer operating system and other free, open-source software last took place at the Pasadena Convention Center in early March 2020 — right before the COVID-19 lockdown.

SCALE organizers spent the weeks prior to their 2020 dates watching COVID case numbers, consulting with experts and weighing whether or not to cancel.

But the show did go on. Like in years before, thousands of free software users, developers, advocates and professionals came to Pasadena for the keynote speeches, technical talks, booth-filled convention floor — and to meet old friends and make new ones.

The 2020 convention ended, and within days, gatherings of any kind were off the table as the new virus grew and threatened a world without any vaccines or treatments.

Along with day-to-day work, school and family gatherings, tech conferences turned to Zoom, and SCALE went dark for 2021.

In 2022, SCALE organizers hoped to return to Pasadena, but it was not to be.

“In the months leading up to March 2022, Omicron had been spiking in LA and the U.S. in general,” SCALE Conference Chair Ilan Rabinovich recalled.

“While all the experts suspected that by February things would subside, many of us — organizers, speakers and sponsors — were reluctant to commit to travel without knowing what the world would look like in February and March.”

“To be safe, we moved to the summer, and unfortunately our home of Pasadena was already booked for the rest of 2022.”

SCALE was postponed until July and held at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

But things are looking up in 2023 for SCALE 20x — the convention’s 20th (now mostly) yearly outing. Programmers, systems administrators, advocates, students and others passionate and curious about Linux and other free software are slated to return to Pasadena from Thursday, March 9, through Sunday, March 12.

“We’re excited to be back in Pasadena for 2023 and hopefully beyond,” Rabinovich said. “Our community loves how walkable downtown Pasadena is, and the many options for food and entertainment. The city has welcomed us and supported us over the last eight years.

Rabinovich credits the Pasadena City Council and the VisitPasadena team for helping SCALE make the city its home.

For its 20th year, SCALE will feature more than 100 exhibitors and nearly 200 speakers, and about 3,000 are expected to attend over the four days, said convention volunteer Dennis Rex.

A four-day SCALE pass that covers all talks, keynotes and the expo hall is $90. An expo hall-only pass is available for $20. For more information and to register for SCALE 20x, go to

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