Open Source a Comdex Bright Spot
Nov 21, 2003, 22:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)
How to Help Your Business Become an AI Early Adopter
By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer
"This was one of the busiest places at the show," said Amber
Schneu-Davis, about 30 minutes before Comdex 2003 came to a close.
Schneu-Davis and other volunteers at the Open Source pavilion were
surprised to find that most people who stopped by the booth could
be better characterized as Windows rather than Linux users.
OpenOffice and Linux Terminal Server Project constituted two big
draws, according to the .Org volunteers. Many folks catching a
glimpse of OpenOffice mistook the open source office suite for
Microsoft Office. Showgoers stopped by to ask why the "Open Source
Innovation Area"--presented by O'Reilly & Associates--was
demoing Windows software.
Schneu-Davis and her husband David explained to the curious that
OpenOffice is open source software that runs in both Linux and
"Some of them told us, 'I've heard of OpenOffice, but what is
it?'" she said. "Running OpenOffice on Windows can be a great
gateway application for people transitioning from Windows to
OpenOffice 1.1, the version shown at Comdex, adds some new
features to the suite, including file export to .PDF. Some Linux
distributions include OpenOffice 1.1, but others still use
StarOffice--a commercial office suite from Sun that's based on
OpenOffice--tends to provide stronger compatibility with Windows
files formats, she acknowledged. Other enhancements from Sun
include database support and more fonts.
Jim McQuillan, another volunteer, estimated that about 75
percent of visitors to the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP)
booth were Windows users.
Companies use LTSP to tie together Linux and Windows
environments, noted volunteer James A. Glutting, who was also on
hand. One user, Chicago-based Binson Hospital Supplies, is using
LTSP to support 150 desktops.
Some Linux users dropping by the booth had been unaware that you
can use LTSP for remote access to Windows 2000 desktops from Linux
Other .Orgs on the roster at Comdex included Zope, an open
source Web application program; Plone, a content management system
powered by Zope and Python; GIMP, a GNU-based program for photo
retouching and image composition; KDE; GNOME; Apache.org; Mozilla;
The LTSP volunteers said that many visitors to the booth
complained about the small size of this year's Comdex show floor,
and the difficulty of finding new products that interested
Those visitors weren't alone. "I've been trying to locate a
'silver bullet' at Comdex for three days now, and I haven't seen
one yet," said a computer reseller, as he left his hotel early
Thursday morning for the airport. The reseller had decided to pack
things in a day early this year.
Actually, though, foot traffic at the Open Source pavilion was
heaviest on Thursday, the last day of the show, McQuillan
Schneu-Davis, who owns a computer store in Las Vegas, said she
was able to get into longer and more detailed conversations with
showgoers than at previous Comdexes.
Is it possible that the smaller size of the show floor was part
of the reason why?
She was less than thrilled, though, by a decision by a new
policy that charged a $50 admission fee to consumers and small
businesses from the local area--as well as to other expo
registrants from anywhere--who hadn't received an official
invitation to the show.
Schneu-Davis said that she didn't have pay the fee. As a
volunteer in the Open Source pavilion, she qualified for an
exhibitor's badge, anyway.
"But what is wrong with 'local'? Some people might not realize
this, but casinos and other businesses in Las Vegas use lots of
computers. Las Vegas is a very big computer market," she pointed
In a teleconference before the show, Comdex officials explained
that the new policy was part of a push this year to place a bigger
focus on the IT business market.