The Linux tribes are gathering this week for the Fifth
Annual Linux Showcase and Conference, taking place
through Saturday in Oakland, Calif. Event organizers are
hoping that free registration will attract a greater than
usual number of attendees to this year's conference, and attendees were standing in line to get in Monday.The conference, called ALS for short, started life in 1996 as the Atlanta Linux Expo, a
smallish one-day gathering coordinated by the Atlanta Linux
Enthusiasts. In 1997, it became the Atlanta Linux Showcase,
jointly presented by ALE and Linux International (LI), and
expanded to two days. The USENIX Association joined ALE and
LI to help organize the three-day 1999 show.
In 2000, the name was changed to the Annual Linux Showcase
and the program was expanded once again, this time to five
days. In addition to offering an ambitious six days of
activities, the 2001 event is the first ALS to take place
outside of Georgia.
While the names, locations, and dates may change, ALS is
still known in Linux circles as being the serious
"What makes USENIX events in general the best conferences
around," said ALS tutorial coordinator Dan Klein, "is
they've got good technical sessions, they've got good
invited talks, they've got a good exhibit floor, but most
importantly, it's just standing in the hall and talking to
"If you've got a problem just start a conversation with
somebody. If they don't know the answer, the person
standing next to you will. If they don't, the three of you
will mull around for a while until somebody will walk by
and join the conversation and know the answer."
"LinuxWorld Expo is where the marketers meet," said one
person standing in line for registration, "but [ALS] is
where the community meets."
If the Monday morning scene in the lobby of the Marriott
City Center Hotel is any indication, then a free
registration offer brought the community out in droves.
Twenty minutes before the conference registration desk was
scheduled to open, a small but patient crowd stood around,
watching a small army of volunteers finish their setup
duties. About five minutes after the official 8 a.m. start
time, about 30 people were waiting on line to pick up their
Until the last person registers on Saturday, organizers
won't know for sure just how many people showed up for the
event. "It's always difficult to tell with this
conference," said Klein, "but we're always surprised at the end."
Responding to the ongoing economic downturn and the
changing security and political landscapes of North
America, ALS organizers decided to offer free registration
for the showcase and technical sessions.
"People have been leery about traveling and now they're
discovering, 'oh, it's OK, nothing's happening,' and so
folks are making the last-minute reservations," said Klein.
Those technical sessions and the vendor showcase will take
place this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The tutorials
taking place through Wednesday, however, still require
Today's tutorial session was a look inside the Linux kernel
with long-time kernel hackers Stephen Tweedie and Ted Ts'o. Tutorials taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday
focus on system administration and security. On Wednesday,
Willem Schreuder will present the tutorial on building and
using a personal Beowulf.
Business was quietly booming at the tutorial signup desk.
Like many participants, Pete Peterson was there to learn a
bit more about Linux in his position as a network
administrator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
His division provides support for more than 700 users, and has
used Linux on a variety of application, network, and print
servers since 1998. "It's getting much more polished," he
said, "and there are a few individuals using it on their
We'll have more coverage of the Fifth Annual Linux Showcase
and Conference this week. Stay tuned.
Editor's note: OSDN, of which NewsForge is a member, is one of the corporate sponsors of this