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Dean Pannell aka Dinotrac: Linuxworld 2001: Hope, angst and karma

Feb 01, 2001, 22:02 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dean Pannell)

Yesterday was the first day of my second LinuxWorld.
It's different this year, and it's not just the karma points. Well, the karma points matter, but we'll get to that later.

Last year, VA Linux and Red Hat were Wall Street darlings and LinuxCare was poised for IPO. Atipa computers had its name plastered everywhere, even on the stairsteps. Lots of money, lots of exhuberance. VA rocked the hall by dropping some of its IPO money on Andover.net. It was everywhere:Money, excitement, big splashy parties.

That was then, this is now.

Atipa is gone, VA, Red Hat and Linuxcare have come back to earth. "Survivor" was playing when I checked into my hotel room. Fitting.

Sound glum? If you bought high and sold low, it is.
If you're a roving Microsofty, it's definitely glum.

Want some news?

This year's Linuxworld is bigger than last year's. I talked to IDG's Sales Director and he confirmed it. Last year's show fit neatly into one conference hall. This year it spills into two. The big red Atipa banners may be gone, but big blue IBM banners fill in nicely. Worried about corporate influence? No problem. Wander over to the .org Pavilion. If Big Blue isn't your cup of tea, a guy with blue hair will tell you all about the Linux Greenhouse, the Free Software Foundation's open source incubator. The .org Pavillion is bigger and better integrated this year. Last year, it was off to the side. This year's location feels like it's at the hear of the show. Intentional symolism or not, it's something you won't find at COMDEX

By the way, did I mention the karma points?

Another welcome difference:
Last year, all of the Press Room computers ran Windows (personal note: grrrr!).
This year, Linux computers are available, too. No KDE, but GNOME beats Windows like paper covers rock.

It's not all different. Some things haven't changed much at all.
My advice to Linux faithful remains unchanged: If you feel lonely, unappreciated and "out-there", if the people you know think that Linux is a good name in fine china, then get thee to LinuxWorld.

Fair warning: You won't get mom's warm embrace, but your eyes will be opened. Here you can see what you know in your heart: Linux is for real and serious people are doing serious things with it. One walk around the floor and one good look at the Big IBM mainframe running Linux will convince you of that.

People are also having fun. User Friendly and Dust Puppy still have a spot on the floor. Nick Petreley's Golden Penguin Bowl was a genuine hacker hoot. How many times will you see Linus get the definition of bogomips wrong (or at least different from "the answer" -- also a Torvalds quote)? You had to be there. The "winners" had negative 5000 points. Forget the losers.

Even the serious vendors are having fun. I met with Borland's product manager for Kylix this morning, and he definitely seems to be having fun with all this. The Borland folks are justifiably proud of what they've done. It is a very slick addtion to the Linux and to the Windows universe. It's the perfect antidote to post-doubting-middle-management-PHB syndrome.

Jon "Maddog" Hall is still roaming the LinuxWorld range and patiently help clueless yours trulies. Hey look - Blue-haired incubators, Linus playing games and Maddog giving directions. This is still Linux land, suits or no suits.

Jon "Maddog" Hall is still roaming the range and patiently offering useful information to anyone who asks.

Like last year, there are plenty of new exhibitors as well. I spent some time with the folks from Aduva, for example, taking a look at their system configuration and administration service/software. Interesting stuff for a couple of reasons: It's one answer to corporate question about administering and distributing Linux software. They have their own certification lab from which they derive a knowledge base of what goes where and with what else. They have a no-cost version of the service for home users, which I intend to test-drive when I get home. Also interesting is their business model. They can offer subscription services to corporate clients and distribution deals with vendors, etc.. Distribution deals with vendors could actually make free home use a selling point - the old razor and blades game. With all the flack we took on Wall Street last year, it is good to see people investing money and developing business models around free software.

To sum things up neatly, this penguin that is not on the endangered species list.

Now, back to those karma points. I've been grabbing every /. type I could find to demand my justly deserved karma points. You see, one of my articles, I want my DVD, your honor, was posted a couple of months back as a reply to a ./ article. No big deal there. I explicitly give people the right to re-post or publish my articles, so long as they attribute me. Well, this guy didn't. Fortunately, /. readers came to my rescue corrected that situation (thanks a lot, guys). No beef there, but here's the thing. The post was moderated up to 5 karma points. Those should have been MY points, and I want them. I want them now and I want them with interest. This is a terrible injustice that should be righted today! After that, we can get on with global warming and world hunger. I made my case to Jeff "Hemos" Bates to no avail. Oh, he gave me some rigamorole about getting him the URL and letting him look into it. I'm not sure, though. Maybe we could LT ./ ...

Til later,