LinuxTag 2009 Wrap-up

Article Source Dissociated Press
June 29, 2009, 9:57 am

It’s amazing how quickly four days can zoom by! LinuxTag 2009 is now in the rearview, so how did it go? By any objective measure, LinuxTag 2009 was a bit of a mixed bag. It drew a quality crowd, but smaller than last year (which by many accounts was smaller than the year before) and fewer exhibitors than the year before as well.

Part of this can be blamed squarely on the economy, and part of it lies with the fact that Linux is no longer the exciting new kid on the block technology.

Community Shows / Regional Shows Rule

So far this year I’ve attended seveneight nine events (that I can recall off the top of my head, anyway — there may have been more) related to Linux and open source:

  • Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE)
  • Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit
  • Florida Linux Show
  • Linuxfest Northwest
  • SouthEast LinuxFest
  • Open Source Business Conference
  • LinuxTag

Now, the Open Source Business Conference really is the “one thing not like the others” in this list because OSBC is aimed squarely at a non-community crowd and not directly at Linux folks, either.

Of the others, the most successful events have been the regional shows like SCALE and LFNW, and events that have very specific audiences like the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. By “successful” I mean, they’ve drawn close to their capacity for exhibitors and attendees, the crowds have been enthused and engaged, and the shows themselves have run well and pleased attendees and sponsors (and, presumably, organizers).

LinuxTag is the only “big budget” show on the list, and I’m not really sure it needs to be “big budget.” From a commercial perspective, I’m not at all impressed by LinuxTag — don’t get me wrong, I think it was a fine show and drew a pretty enthusiastic community audience — but as a show where commercial interests would get leads, and show some return on investment? Not so much. The venue is probably a bit too pricey for the show itself. The LinuxTag folks might want to re-think the “.org meets .com” thing and consider just going all-out .org and scaling down the venue to meet the needs of the exhibitors who have remained. LinuxTag draws a community audience, but at commercial prices it’s a tough one.

If I added up the sponsorship fees and real costs for SCALE, LFNW, SELF, and the Florida Linux Show, it would probably not pay for LinuxTag. Considering we’re reaching the same kind of audience, I’m not sure that’s justified. Food for thought for next year as our openSUSE Ambassadors start thinking about FY10 shows.

openSUSE Day

The openSUSE Day got off to a slow start, but the room started to really fill up with Andreas Jaeger’s talk on What’s new in 11.2. The Wine and “Why my WLAN isn’t working” talks were really packed and for the most part the room was quite well-packed. Pictures of some of the talks are available on my Flickr page with the openSUSE set:

Most if not all the pictures are uploading to Flickr as I type this.

A couple of thoughts on openSUSE Day for next year’s LinuxTag and/or future events:

  • The popular talks (excepting AJ‚Äôs) are not distro-specific.
  • Presentations are good, but more interactive sessions would be better. Next time, we need to have a mix of presentations and working sessions as we will have at the openSUSE Conference.
  • 10 a.m. Saturday is still to early to expect people to show up after two days of talks + social events. Next time, we‚Äôll serve coffee and donuts at 10 a.m. and start the proceedings at 11 a.m.
  • We cut for two hours for the keynotes and lunch. I think this would have been a good time to do some working sessions ‚Äî not everyone cares about the keynotes.
  • Though it was a bi-lingual event, the talks in German seemed to be much better attended.

My intent was to sit down right after LinuxTag on Saturday and write up a summary, but Brent McConnell, Jan Weber, and Vincent Untz were available for dinner and a trip into the downtown area of Berlin — and that seemed like a much more relaxing way to spend the evening.  So, this post is a little later than planned, but in time for Monday reading while you’re settling in with coffee or passing time during conference calls.