In such a stellar year for Linux, it might seem that the
Linux Business Expo at
Comdex'99 in Las Vegas with only 68 Linux vendors was somewhat less
that climactic. But in many ways, Linux Business Expo was the most
remarkable Linux event yet.
Last year, the Linux Pavilion was on the ground floor of the
Sands Convention Center. This year, it was not a pavilion but
Linux's own Linux Business Expo in the Las Vegas Hilton running
concurrently with Comdex.
Last year, Comdex'98 in Las Vegas was an exciting expo for
Linux. Never before had so many vendors (12) exhibited. For the
first time, these were assembled into a Linux Pavilion garnering
much excitement and press.
I attended Comdex'98 as a media correspondent for Linux Today,
then less than two months old. Linux Today had only recently
acquired its first advertiser, Linux Hardware Solutions, now part
of VA Linux Solutions.
Certainly the Linux Pavilion of Comdex'98 was one of the busiest
of the show. Attendees thronged the aisles and the lines in front
of some booths were five deep at times.
Comdex'98 seemed something of a coming out party to old hands in
the Linux community. But nothing in that event foreshadowed the
astonishing Linux explosion in the year that followed.
Already by March 1999, LinuxWorld Expo, sponsored by IDG, had
one hundred vendors exhibiting and 12,000 attendees, 6,000 alone to
hear the Linus Torvalds keynote. And many more equally successful
expos and conferences followed throughout the year.
In 1994 when Mark Bolzern with Robert Young opened the first
Linux exhibit booth at Comdex, they set as a goal to have Linus
Torvalds give a Comdex keynote within five years. Last Monday
evening on November 15, 1999, that goal became a success when Linus
Torvalds gave the last of four Comdex keynote addresses, delivering
a compelling message of Linux and open-source advocacy to a packed
house of 6,000 largely Microsoft Windows users. Torvalds seemed
extremely relaxed, poised, polished and even charismatic -- this
was by far the best Torvalds speech I have yet heard.
The remarkable success of this year's Linux Business Expo,
produced by ZD Events under the direction of Sonny Saslaw, was
recognized Wednesday night at the Penguin Playoffs awards ceremony
when Byte.com magazine and CMP publications awarded it 'Best of
Show' for Comdex'99.
A flurry of press announcements punctuated the event. Perhaps
the most significant of the announcements was the acquisition of
Cygnus Solutions by Red Hat Software.
Also important was the exciting and on-schedule release of the
Corel Linux distribution, preparing the way for the release of the
Corel office suite for Linux in the first quarter of 2000.
Besides the Torvalds keynote, the week's highlights included
keynotes by Robert Young of Red Hat, Michael Cowpland of Corel, and
Ransom Love of Caldera. Other highlights were the Linux Learning
Center, a hands-on Linux training center sponsored by Caldera, the
Linux COMmunity Hub sponsored by LinuxMall/SCO which included
booths representing many of the prominent non-profit Linux and Free
Software and open-source projects and the E-Mail Garden sponsored
by VA Linux Systems, where attendees could check and compose e-mail
on dozens of Linux-enabled workstations.
Over 38,000 attendees made this the best attended Linux expo
Linux Today was privileged to be the official Linux streaming
radio for Linux Business Expo in partnership with ZD Events. From a
60 x 20 foot theatre flanked by Caldera, SuSE, Andover.net and
AppGen in the center of the exhibit hall, Linux Today delivered 36
hours of continuous programming to the assembled audience and
streamed over the Internet in mp3 via Icecast from our Dallas-based
With Emmett Plant as host and Paul Ferris as audio engineer,
Linux Today interviewed many Linux notables throughout the week and
these audio interviews will be made available from the Linux Today
Most enjoyable of all were the many opportunities to share
information and rumors with other members of the Linux community.
There was a perceptible excitement and anticipation of many more
good and profitable times ahead among the Linux vendors. The
community feeling was extremely strong and created a cooperative
business climate among competitors which quite possibly has never
existed before in this or any other economy.
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