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Editor's Note: Explaining LinuxWorld

Aug 18, 2006, 22:30 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)


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By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

Well. That was certainly interesting.

I write, of course, of my attendance at this year's San Francisco edition of the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, which--from most reports--was a successful venture, much more so than the much-maligned Boston show this past Spring.

Having ventured forth into the big trade show for all things open source, I am compelled to give my brief synopsis of what this year's show was all about. I have to admit to you, it wasn't easy at first. I talked to a lot of people about a lot of different things, so trying to nail something down in one topic area was impossible.

But while I was talking, I began to notice a thread of commonality. A thread that I think was inevitable, once you find it. So, my (non) patented one-word summary of what this LWCE was all about is...


Finally Linux and Open Source technology is about what the end-user needs, and not what the developer wants.

Finally it's about an ecosystem so robust that there is no way on Earth that the proprietary businesses will ever be able to make open source go away. Ever.

Finally about companies who are beginning to reach out to the open source development community in non-condescending or -exploitive ways. Where the collaborative method is seen not as a curious oddity, but as an actual necessity.

Finally products and services are being put together not just to emulate existing technology, but to surpass it with new and totally different offerings. Sure, it'll be cool to see more apps ported to Linux, but it's the new stuff that will knock your socks off.

Finally people realized you can have a Linux show without Red Hat and the planet won't stop spinning on it's axis--and the Linux axis doesn't spin through Cary, NC.

Finally Microsoft is going to start dealing with open source companies on their terms--not Redmond's. There were several Microsoft staffers at the show, publicly or otherwise, and they were definitely in community outreach mode.

There were flaws in the event, don't get me wrong. With the exception of the Lawrence Lessig opening presentation, the keynotes were basically glorified marketing pitches from the show sponsors.

The .Org Pavilion was stuck in the back again, this time dominated by VA Software's sprawling Slashdot Lounge--something I find ironic, given that VA's most profitable product, SourceForge Enterprise Edition, is neither free (unless you have a developer shop of 15 or less people) nor open.

The caliber of the presentations was very good, based on my own observations and what folks were telling me. I thought the Healthcare Day hosted by the OSDL on Tuesday was very well put-together, though a little on the market-y side.

So, there is a ways to go. But these are logistical issues, and should not detract from the fact that every time we have one of these shows, the strengths of Linux are highlighted even more, and it's demonstrated that open source is not a fad that will fade.