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Editor's Note: Attending Linux Business Expo
Bad Karma from Microsoft to Blame?
April 20, 2000
The Linux Business Expo--held in conjunction with Spring COMDEX and Windows World in Chicago--didn't have the same sense of excitement found at previous Linux shows. Part of the reason for that was logistical, as Spring COMDEX tends to draw smaller crowds than Fall COMDEX. And part of the reason had to do with timing, as Montreal's Linux Expo attracted a wide range of Linux vendors (Red Hat Software, Stormix, Linux-Mandrake) who skipped Linux Business Expo.
So how successful was Linux Business Expo in pushing the Linux agenda? Moderately. Between meetings with Linux vendors--which I'll cover a little later--I spent some time watching attendees visit the Linux booths to see what they were asking for.
Generally, the attendees fell into two camps: folks who knew Linux well and were using it on a personal level, and folks who didn't use Linux intimately but were curious enough to sit through a presentation. I can't say that there were a lot of sophisticated Linux users at the show, but there was a general awareness of Linux that made baseline Linux evangelism unnecessary. (Digression: How does one get to become a "Linux evangelist"? It seems like every other day you find some yahoo or another proclaiming themselves to being a self-proclaimed "Linux evangelist." Quite often these "evangelists" are fringe players who contribute little to the Linux community. Too many Linux evangelists, not enough shotguns.) Indeed, we've already won the first battle in creating a solid base of Linux awareness in the overall computing community.
Some highlights at the show:
- There was a beehive of activity surrounding the BSD booth. Sure, part of it was trade-show schtick, as folks were lining up to have their pictures taken with the BSD Devil and to snare free devil horns. But there was genuine interest in BSD from many, many potential customers who want an alternative to Windows or commercial UNIX and who were evaluating BSD on the same basis as Linux.
- There was also a beehive of activity surrounding the certification examinations offered by the Linux Professional Instiutute. Dan York has done an admirable job in making Linux certification something to be taken seriously (as opposed to the joke-like MCSE). As more vendors sign on, Linux certification will be more and more important.
- Solid attendance at the SuSE and Caldera booths. Presentations at both booths were filled to capacity, even though neither company was throwing out mass quantities of giveaways to attendees (unlike the seals who show up to the Microsoft booth and clap their hands in order to snare a T-shirt).
- The first public appearance by SCO after reorganizing the firm into three groups and making more of a commitment to Open Source. At the show it was announced that two useful developer tools were released as Open Source, with more technology coming down the pike. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about the SCO booth was that it didn't even contain a PC: just people there to answer questions.