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Editor’s Note: Diamonds and Rhinestones

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

“So, Brian what do think of the show thus far?”

Please, don’t even get me started.

Okay, maybe I was just grouchy because I’d blown out my knee the
week before and was limping around a building that could swallow a
small town. Maybe it was because there were no big releases being
announced this time around. Maybe it was because I got suckered
into thinking one of the after-show gatherings was going to be a
really cool spot and it was actually a dive.

But people, this show was seriously lacking.

Energy. Traffic. News. Fun. Whatever. You name it, it was
lacking. And this bothers me because, given the recent successes of
Linux, there was no reason to be anything but a very cool show.
And, save for a few stars, it wasn’t.

But, with my leg encased in ice in my comfy home office, I feel
better now and want to highlight the positives (and mock some of
the negatives). There were some excellent nuggets at
LinuxWorld–you just had to know where to find them. So today, I
happily present the first-ever (and, likely, the last) Brian K.
Proffitt Smart-Aleck Awards to give more participants their just
due. Winners receive nothing, though non-winners may breath a sigh
of relief at not being associated with me.

Best Overall Booth: Booths overall were smaller
this year; they didn’t have the giganto mega-booths for some
reason. Intel, Novell, and Red Hat all had significant size going
for them, but I’ve seen them bigger. Novell’s layout was intimate,
but it really turned out to be more cramped than anything. Red
Hat’s was really open, but spread out. Intel had some nice modular
features that were a good balance. But I thought the best layout
was newcomer rPath, who was jammed in between the SugarCRM booth
and the down escalators onto the show floor. rPath made
particularly good use of their space, with a narrower but deeper
slot that you could walk back into and have a discussion without
being surrounded by passersby.

Best Presentation Gimmick: This one came down
between Pogo Linux and Unisys. The latter had a magic show for
their presentations, and while it’s been done before, I thought the
banter was snappy and illusions pretty good. But I have to say it
was Pogo Linux’s spoof on The Daily Show that won it hands down.
When I first saw the “Jon Storage” sign, my lame-o alarm went way
off, not to mention that fact that you don’t mess with Jon in my
little liberal world. But I swung by during one of the actual
skits, and I have to say that the impressionist was pretty decent,
and they got in a few shots of dry humor in without looking like
they were trying too hard.

Hottest Booth: Unisys, of course. C’mon, did
you actually think I’d let that one slip by? Unisys also gets the
honorable mention as Company with the Least Sense of Humor, since
they were pretty uptight about the whole booth-on-fire thing to the
press. Guys, no one was hurt and the show went on as planned. Be
thankful for that and take the jokes in the spirit they were
intended.

Best Show Tchotchke: Novell’s SUSE ball caps
were on almost everyone’s heads, but the winners by a landslide
were Splunk’s “Take the Sh out of IT” t-shirts. Funny and wrong,
great combination.

Worst Booth Costumes: In honor of their
upcoming Nashville summit, Red Hat’s bright red country-style
sequined shirts were wrong on two levels. First, rhinestones.
Second, what a great way to show event attendees that you are
clearly focused on where you really want to be (Nashville/Your Own
Event) instead of where you are (Boston/LinuxWorld). (Jokes aside,
our strongest wishes of safety go out to those in the Nashville
today.)

Most Talked-About Product: This one was harder
to pick, since there wasn’t a clear winner. Certainly the One
Laptop Per Child product got some attention, as did Xen–if only
because the latter was mentioned in collaboration with so many
other product announcements. Xandros Server got some buzz time, but
I think the overall winner in this category was the OpenXchange
Server, since so many people were grabbing me and asking me what I
knew about it.

Most Trash-Talked Company: This one was a tie,
because the companies are in two different IT sectors and they were
getting smack dealt out all week.

First was VMware, who got dissed by almost every virtualization
player in the joint. Harsh stuff, though a lot of it seemed to
focus on past performance issues, and not present ones.

Second, in the messaging sector, Scalix was the one getting
slapped around. One company was so adamant about how much better
they were than Scalix, I had to remind them that I was there to
talk about them, not their competitor. Word of warning to those who
like to toss the insults around: run that stuff by the media too
much, and we’ll start wondering about your inadequacies.

Least Talked-About, Yet Coolest Product:
OpenSUSE is about to launch a new public package building system
that, if it works, will be a very easy way to packages (RPM, DEB,
tarballs) created for any configured platform (i586, IA-64, PPC). I
saw an early proto-alpha demo and my eyes got all big and
sparklely. I know, XGL will be mondo-cool, but this solution has
some serious far-reaching potential for all the distros.

Best New Show Feature: No more Rookery. Instead
of being shoved into a separate section, new show vendors could be
wherever the could afford/fit. They were given little white signs
that said “New Show Participant,” and that was all. Good move, IDG.
Now all the vendors can have a chance to sit at the big table.