August 15, 2002

LinuxWorld diary part three: Business is good

- By Robin "Roblimo" Miller -
Let's not knock the "business side" of Linux and Open Source. Even those gloomy old-timers who feel this edition of LinuxWorld is less clubby than previous versions will benefit from increased mainstream Linux exposure and spread, because this exposure will create more Linux and Open Source jobs. (This article will be updated throughout the day, same as part one and part two.) Now let's see what Red Hat has to say about UnitedLinux and Sun.

After hearing UnitedLinux talk about how there was only room for two commercial Linux distributions, and listening to all the Sun talk about how they were getting into Linux in a big way, I wondered what Red Hat had to say in return, so I buttonholed Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik and asked. He said, "Only two Linux distributions? That would be disappointing. And what about the embedded marketplace?" He pointed out that the embedded Linux marketplace, alone, has room for lots of players, and that there should always be plenty of competition for Linux user's hearts and minds. (We didn't get into a long conversation, since we were both rushing off to other meetings, but let's note here that Red Hat is fully in synch with the Linux Standards Base, same as UnitedLinux -- and lots of others.)

As far as Sun, Szulik asked, "Did you notice the Red Hat screens in Sun Linux?" Yes, we had. Right now "Sun Linux" is nothing but Red Hat rebranded. Perhaps this will change as Sun's Linux effort cranks up. After the LinuxWorld hoopla dies down, we'll talk to Sun people and ask, although they seem to be trying to hold off on answering questions about their Linux plans until their own conference in September.

Meanwhile, attendance at this LinuxWorld is up nicely from last year, and the crowd seems to be in a buying mood. These are, for the most part, people seriously interested in Linux. There are not many swag collectors or partiers. (We'll have a report from last night's FSF party for you later.) Let's not lament this evolution too much. If you want a hard-core, inner-circle Linux tech gathering, nowadays you go to the Ottawa Linux Symposium or one of several regular "kernel crowd" get-togethers, and leave LinuxWorld to the new users and corporate people.

When you think about it, the fact that Linux is now "big" enough to have different gatherings for different purposes is amazing. We should all be glad to see this evolution take place.

12:15 p.m. -- Things are winding down. I spent the morning cruising the dot-org pavilion. First stop, the Free Software Foundation booth. They had a nice party last night at a local bar, with about 200 people there. Some FSF volunteers felt it could have been promoted better and drawn a bigger crowd, but some of the folks who were at the party said its comparatively small size kept it fun.

The KDE booth people say this show has been "awesome" for them. The X.org people say it's "gone very well, lots of enthusiasm ... it's good to see that what we do is appreciated, both in terms of individual users and in terms of companies." The Free Standards Group (who run the Linux Standards Base) called it a "good crowd." We couldn't talk to the OpenOffice.org people except to say "hi" because their booth was so crowded. The same applied to the Linux Terminal Server Project. They were just as mobbed.

We exchanged plenty of business cards and will be writing about many of these projects -- and others -- in coming months.

Now, back to the show floor ...

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