August 13, 2002

LinuxWorld diary, part one

- By Robin "Roblimo" Miller -

They're lining up to hear Scott McNealy, whose keynote is going to begin in a few minutes. I'm going to skip it and do "exit interviews" to get the gist of what he says, and I might drop in on the press Q&A session afterwards for half an hour. But there's lots more to LinuxWorld than Sun, and this little diary, which I'll update several times today, will give you an idea of what's going on here at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Out front, on my way in, a winsome Sun PR person handed me a pair of earplugs "to block out IBM Linux hype." Next to her, an equally winsome Oracle hireling was handing out flyers of some sort. I didn't take one, but she said lots of other people had and, she added, "I haven't seen many of them in the trash."

If exhibit height and floor-space use is the primary indication of Linuxness, HP wins hands down; they're right near the entrance, and their theater-type presentations are being run through a sound system so loud and full of thump-bass music that I felt sorry for the poor AMD guy a few feet away, trying to give a highly technical presentation using nothing but his voice and a few slides.


We might as well get them out of the way. I listened as an MS person with a badge that identified him as "Todd Brix" earnestly explained to a gentleman wearing a Red Hat cap (Red Hat is giving them away like mad) how Microsoft thinks "there is plenty of room for Open Source as well as commercial software." Brix was careful to distinguish between Open Source and GPL software. Microsoft still thinks GPL is bad, bad, bad, even though they are exhibiting at a show dedicated to the world's most famous GPL software: GNU/Linux -- and I'll bet no one at Microsoft ever uses that full, true name. Most telling thing Brix had to say was how the best kind of Open Source development "takes place with Microsoft guidance." I did not make this up. I would not put such silly words in the mouth of a Microsoft employee. I don't think they're going to win many converts here talking that way.

Quote of the day #1

A C|Net video-type guy to his cameraman: "We need to find a couple more weirdos ..."

In the pressroom, the person sitting next to me, freelance reporter Jacqueline Emigh, is logging on to AOL through her Windows laptop ... and more than half the people in the pressroom are using Windows (including me at he moment -- a borrowed workstation). Sad in a way, but also proof that Linux is getting noticed more and more by the mainstreamers. In fact, the reason I'm covering LinuxWorld in this loose "diary" format is that there are so many of them here that they'll cover all the boring stuff to death, leaving me free to have a little fun.

Quote of the day #2

Asked to describe his LinuxWorld experience so far, booth person Josh said, "Umm, right, well, we worked hard, we trained hard, and it paid off. That's my favorite sports quote, and I've always wanted to use it in an interview ..."

Star Power!

I just ran into a CNN crew in the press room, sucking down some nice roast beef sandwiches on excellent sourdough rolls. They are not here to cover LinuxWorld, just the McNealy speech -- and Sun wouldn't allow them (or anyone else) to tape it. Whatever. Time to go to the McNealy Q&A. The CNN people say they're allowed to tape that, anyway.

Dell made some sort of annoucement earler. A fellow journalist said it was "boring" and can't even remember what it was about a few hours later.

After lunch and the McNealy Q&A

Hah! Finally spotted a woman carrying a giant stuffed Tux doll. Every Linux show or conference should have giant Tux dolls. As far as women, if we had a "sexist quote of the day department," this one (from a guy we know who hails from the Old South) would certainly qualify: "There are more pretty women at this show than at the previous five LinuxWorlds combined."

Male or female, there are a lot of new users and potential corporate Linux customers floating around this builiding than I'm used to seeing at Linux conferences. A few minutes ago I was chatting with one of the old Debian stalwarts about how there's less of a "club" feel here than we're used to; how we aren't spending half our time saying "hey!" to people we already know.

This is good in a business sense, I suppose.

More on Sun: Their Q&A was great fun. McNealy and crew score for "best corporate repartee" by a large margin, but they managed to say exactly zero about their future plans for Linux on the desktop beyond an invitation to come to a conference they're holding in Septermber. "This is what you call a 'tease,'" McNealy happily admitted. I asked whether "Sun Linux" was going to use apt or RPM, and all I got back was a short lecture about how Sun supports standards, blah, blah blah, but no direct answer.

There's another Sun event this afternoon. I'm not going to go. Later, though, I'll probably go to the UnitedLinux press conference because they're giving out free booze and massages. Can't miss that one, right?

(The woman next to me in the pressroom as I type this is a CMP person covering Sun and McNealy, but who apparently has no real interest in Linux. Say what you will, the big IT names give Linux a lot of visibility.)

To Be Continued...


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