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Frontline Report: Linux World Expo Turns Businesslike

The Pendulum Swings

  • January 31, 2002
  • By Dennis E. Powell

The 2001 Linux World Expo in New York City was a gala affair, packed with companies desperate to burn through loads of startup capital.

The 2002 Linux World Expo in New York City is subdued, anything but packed, and clear in demonstrating that those companies met last year's goal -- a lot of them burned through all that money and then simply disappeared.

Other companies -- most other companies -- have a reduced, subdued presence. The .org pavilion, the place where all those companies actually got much of what they're trying to sell, is now limited to the back wall and one corner of the vast Jacob Javits Convention Center.

And even some well-known names in Linux, companies that have demonstrated considerable success, are entirely absent from this year's event. SuSE, for example, is not represented; Troll Tech was rumored to be in attendance, but no one could find them.

It is in some respects as if a pall has been cast over the event, and if that were the case it would scarcely be a surprise: it was not many weeks ago that the Javits Center was the rallying point for those involved in the recovery efforts connected with the World Trade Center atrocity. But the events of September 11 are not the reason this year's LWE has an entirely different flavor, nor is the sudden shortage of venture capital in need of spending. Linux has become an industry; indeed, an industry that little benefits from things like trade shows.

The geeks are out, and the marketers are now firmly entrenched. "Server solutions" might as well have been the theme of the event.

But I've always held that computer trade shows are supposed to be like the state fair. Sure, there are areas of very specific interest, but the midway should be a good time for one and all.

I'm very glad to say that the fun has not been entirely sucked out of Linux World Expo. There were items of interest and, yes, even things for which one can yearn.

But make no mistake: Linux has become big business or else it's making one hell of a try.

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