October 10, 2001

Linux a hit at Eugene Computer and Internet Expo

Author: JT Smith

- By Larry A. Price -

Many of the visitors to the Eugene Computer and Internet Expo in Oregon this past weekend noticed that one of the booths had more traffic than some of the commercial internet service providers and hardware
vendors who made up most of the exhibitors. As the expo hall filled
and emptied, one booth in the back of the hall always seemed to have a
cluster of people asking questions and picking up literature.

The
people staffing the booth represented a fairly broad cross section of
the local computer industry, from sharply dressed business consultants
to guys in T-shirts who looked mostly at home, planted in front of a
monitor whacking away at a keyboard.

The odd thing was that this booth, unlike many of the others, was not
selling a particular product or representing a service vendor, it was
instead a community group talking about a concept. They were EUGLUG,
the Eugene Unix and Gnu/Linux Users Group. As the first day of the
expo drew to a close and the LUG members chatted and compared notes, they started noticing something odd. People that were known to be die-hard Windows NT admins were sidling up to the EUGLUG booth and asking questions, about running Apache on Red Hat, about Staroffice for small businesses, about basic Linux and Unix
administration. They would nod gravely when security was mentioned and
walk away with copies of Kevin's Redhat Uber Distribution or SuSE LiveEval CDs and flyers.

Over the course of the weekend, expo visitors attended classes on Linux
for Business, and presentations on security and Python for Business
given by Sean Reifscheider from tummy.com.
Computer Security heavyweight Symantec, one of the sponsors of the event, was there giving presentations on viruses
and the security issues that are arising with the current generation
of wireless network devices. The expo's keynote address was given
by Chris Monnette of Symantec, and exhibitors included IBM, the
Software Association of Oregon, Netcorps and A-1 computer wholesalers.
More than 2,000 people attended the event and most of them stopped by the EUGLUG booth, whether just to gawk at the penguins (plastic ones) or to ask probing questions like "Red Hat owns Linux, right?"

The consensus among EUGLUG members is that there was a difference in
the tone of the inquiries, compared to earlier events. Compared to the LUG's last demo day, in June 2001, there were more business oriented questions, and more questions about using Linux for Web services. There were more than a few references to Code Red, Nimda and Sircam as reasons to be interested in Apache on Linux
servers, instead of Microsoft prodcuts. And it was clear that some questioners had spent many hours cleaning up after Microsoft's security mistakes, and that the recently announced XP licensing changes were forcing businesses to consider whether or
not they wanted to be dependent on a single monolithic vendor, or if
they would be better off making an investment in educating their staff
about Open Source. The conclusion among LUG members is that there is
now a growing interest in the Eugene business community
about putting Linux to work in a variety of different settings.

Rusty Savage of Webolium, who organized the
expo, said he was pleased that the event attracts more vendors and attendees every year. Savage
emphasized that the expo is not just about sales but that it also has
strong community and educational components. At the conclusion of the
expo, a $2,000 check was presented to Patterson Elementary School
representing a portion of the gate proceeds from the event.

When asked about the popularity of Linux Savage said that he was impressed by and
grateful for the energy the LUG had put into making the expo a
success. This is the third year that the LUG has had a presence at the
expo, and the fifth year that it's been presenting demos in the
Eugene/Springfield metro area.

LUG members answered a bewildering variety of questions ranging from
"What can Linux do?" to bewitchingly specific questions about using
USB peripherals under Mandrake. After giving away more than 200 copies of
complete Linux distros, Ximian monkeys and frisbees, and many copies of
"The Beautiful Gift of Linux" pamphlet, tired Penguinistas dismantled the network that allowed them to download and burn "distros on demand." There were quite a few
questions about Linux on the Mac. And one or two about repurposing old
Sun workstations.

The most popular Linux distros were:

DemoLinux

Mandrake 8.0

KRUD

and among Luggers themselves, Debian

T he Eugene Unix and Gnu/Linux Users Group can be found at
http://euglug.org.

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