LinuxWorld Expo--More Suits, But Plenty Of Sandals
The Word on the Floor
At LinuxWorld 2002, T-shirted developers are intermingling with corporate managers in business suits. LinuxWorld is gradually getting less geeky, almost everyone agrees. Despite growing interest in Linux on the corporate side, though, show management plans to keep gearing a lot of the content to the Linux community.
With only the Day One figures fully calculated, LinuxWorld looks likely to come close to--and possibly to exceed--last year's attendance of around 18,000, according to Rob Scheschareg, VP of sales, marketing & product development for IDG World Expo. "This is at a time when some other shows are losing a lot of attendance," Scheschareg maintains.
For trade shows like LinuxWorld and MacWorld, he says, IDG uses advisory boards to keep a close eye on the interests of the development community. Statistically, though, corporate attendees represent the fastest growing attendee segment at LinuxWorld.
"This is a reflection of what's been happening with Linux itself," he adds. Businesses have recognized the cost advantages of Linux for some time now. At this point, they're starting to explore other capabilities, such as scaleability and security, according to Scheschareg.
Andreas Walker, a first-time attendee at LinuxWorld San Francisco, has witnessed the same attendance trends at LinuxWorlds in Europe. "When developers say they want to use Linux, the managers want to make sure that's the best thing to do. Now, the managers are going to LinuxWorld to learn more about Linux," notes Walter, who is CIO at BBDO Interactive in Dusseldorf.
For the sake of the "suits," IBM held a Customer Day at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. IDG reprised the introductory track "A Taste of Linux," first rolled out earlier this year at LinuxWorld in New York City.
On the other hand, many tech sessions at the Moscone have been filled to the brim. When seats run out, people are happy to sit on the floor. At a session on "Linux Intrusion Detection Systems," latecomers had to be turned away entirely, due to legal capacity limits.
As a matter of fact, some of the first-time visitors in San Francisco are technically inclined. For instance, Dennis Hayes, senior software engineer at Raytek, usually goes to the Software Development (SD) show instead.
Hayes says he thinks the T-shirts being given out in LinuxWorld's Dreamweaver booth are very cool. The reason he's at LinuxWorld this year, however, is to hook up with other members of the Linux community who are working on the Monovision Project.
"Let me tell you, a lot of people are really pissed off at Microsoft because of what they're doing with licensing. Microsoft was much more of an engineering company when Bill Gates was in charge. (Steve) Ballmer is a marketing guy. He's been sending out letters to customers threatening to audit them. Microsoft will milk you till you're dry, and I for one am tired of being milked," adds Hayes.
On a more light-hearted note, a female bird called "Penelope" is taking her first bow this year as a member of LinuxWorld's long-time cast of penguin-suited characters. "I think Penelope might have a crush on 'Tux the Penguin,'" jokes a person who is escorting Penelope around the conference center.
To some observers, the changes at LinuxWorld are barely detectable. "The only real change I've noticed is that the keynote speakers keep coming from bigger and bigger companies. But I guess that's a good thing for Linux," says one woman. .
Others haven't been thrilled with the overall show experience this time around.
"LinuxWorld used to be more 'fun,'" grumbles an unemployed software developer, who returned to the show this year, after a long absence, to brush up on his Linux skills.
Enthusiasm reigns, though, among a wide variety of LinuxWorld attendees. "Fun is fine, but that's not really why I'm here. I am at LinuxWorld because part of what I do is to 'sell' the management at my company on Linux," says Thomas F. Rischer, Jr., who is assistant VP for data systems at GuideOne Insurance.