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Editor's Note From the Road: When Everyone Wins

Feb 14, 2006, 08:00 (7 Talkback[s])

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

We seriously need to have more community shows. These things are great.

But not necessarily for the sense of comraderie and fellowship, though that's good too. Shows such as the Southern California Linux Expo are going to be vital to the open source community and the business arena because they are going to provide a much-needed conduit for communication.

Case in point: on the second day of SCALE yesterday, the first keynote was delivered by Dan Kegel of Google. The presentation was entitled "Why Won't Johnny Run Linux?" and preceded to list all of the various areas that need improvement, in Kegel's opinion, in the Linux operating system. There was nothing on Kegel's list we haven't heard before: lack of commercial applications, lack of consistency with libraries and packaging, Microsoft application integration problems, and the usual assortment of hardware and software compatibility issues.

Now I was pretty sure at the time that Kegel was going to list all of these concerns and then move into some form of solution set. You know the kind that I mean: "here's how we can change the future." It's a bit trite, but it's a worthy play. Heck, I've written columns with that methodology myself.

Instead, that was it. No solutions, not even a rally for the future. It was to say the least, a bit disappointing. So when the Q&A started, the audience let fly with counterpoints on why Kegel was a being pessimistic. During one of his comments, Kegel mentioned historic troubles with laptops, and asked the audience how many of them ran a laptop with no problems. Quite a few hands went up, and he seemed skeptical. I just picked up mine off the table and held it up in the air. I mean, are we back in the 90s or something? I have wireless access (without running iwconfig), plug-and-play digital camera support, streaming media, and (if I were to break the law), DVD viewing and I'm running Kubuntu on an iBook. And PPC has less packages than the Intel platforms, for goodness sake.

So, I think Kegel may have been delivered the message: the Linux desktop is more robust than he thinks.

Another example of how the communication works both ways occurred during the sessions on virtualization led by Dan Kusnetsky and Kir Kolyshkin, of Open-Xchange and the OpenVZ Project, respectively. Dan went very high end and presented a strong business case on why virtualization will be a huge part of the IT workplace in coming years. Kir, who's working to get the OpenVZ code into the mainline Linux kernel, went high-tech, outlining the various virtualization techniques and then presenting a live demo on how the vzctl client works.

Different approaches to nearly the same topic, but the audiences really got into it, and while each of their talks were okay, it was the Q&A sessions that really got people motivated. And, talking with Dan and Kir after the show last night, I know they picked up some new ideas as well.

And that was happening over and over throughout both days of the show. In quite a few cases, the presenters were learning just as much as the audience members. Which is why I think that these regional community shows are a must-have. Businesses and open source leaders can communicate with community members on an individual basis at any time, but the real synergy comes through these group dialogs.

If you are a LUG and are contemplating holding a regional show, such as SCALE, the Ohio LinuxFest, or NorthwestFest, I urge you to examine the benefits of these shows and others like them. I believe in the long run they will be very advantageous for the Linux operating system.

Tomorrow morning will find me in San Francisco, exploring the very opposite of these shows: the Open Source Business Conference.