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BrainShare: Customers Satisfied for Now

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Today is the day at BrainShare that I get some learnin' done.

One of the things that intrigued me about this show was the depth and breadth of its education tracks. These were no high-level glossy look at the pretty pictures sessions; some of them seemed to be really down at the code level.

Now, I don't code, but I thought I could attend some of the easier courses, the ones that highlight deploying Linux in a variety of environments. I'll touch on those in a later entry.

The atmosphere of this show is different from any LinuxWorld I've attended; it's closer to an OSBC, only more huge. People here are way more serious, which is a bit odd given the number of planned distractions provided for them: bean-bag-seat theaters, massages, LANed gaming center, and a bazillion after-show parties (the biker bar party was *especially* interesting).

It was at a couple of these events where I managed to talk to some folks about how they feel about Novell's switch two years ago to Linux and about the current partnership with Microsoft. A more social setting puts people at ease.

While the public face of Novell customers is optimistic, in private I would say they are cautiously optimistic to really indifferent. The GroupWise customers here? They don't give a darn about Linux or deals with Microsoft. The system managers and implementers are much more engaged in these issues. I would say, based on the 25 or so companies I talked to last night (what? you think I wasn't working?), the general feeling is a sense of mistrust for Microsoft's motives, and a cautious optimism about Novell's Linux plans.

Mind you, these people want Novell to succeed. They have been working with the company for a long time, on average, and to leave that relationship is something they are not ready to do yet. So they seem willing to wait and see what the near future will bring. But I emphasize near future, because I don't think they are going to keep waiting for long.


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