February 1, 2001

LinuxWorld journal: Charting a course for bounty

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
Walking around the Linux World Expo in New York City, it is clear that the Javits Convention Center is the place to be, even if you're looking for non-Linux amusement. Horny headgear, anyone?Sure, I thought I was cool, slithering out of the cab and strutting into LinuxWorld with my black NewsF orge fedora. But that exultation was short-lived. Was it a not-so-subtle dig or just honest helpfulness that the media registration booth was handing out free copies of "Linux for Dummies" to each journalist requesting a badge?

I didn't take one, but as I strolled up and down the aisles, some of the technologies present made me wish I'd received a copy of "Tech-Convention Navigation for Dummies." Where to go first? My reasonable side (and my boss) said I should make the schmooze rounds, talk to a few sales reps and itinerant CEOs, but Slashdot was giving out free T-shirts ... and I heard tell there were light-up Chuckie horns to be had at the BSD booth. Oh well, work can wait. Horned headbands won't.

The Dummies guy and the Daemon girls

Come to find out that they were giving the Linux for Dummies books to everyone. A life-size, living Dummies guy with a huge triangular head was walking around the show floor, shaking hands and flirting with women. I asked the Dummies guy if he was like, the king of the dummies, or if he was supposed to be really smart and full of answers. He had no comment.

A couple of aisles over, I found the source of the Chuckie horns. Two nice-looking women, dressed in red leotards and sporting red, pointy tails, were passing out the horns with the blinking lights to a throng of eager young men. According to one of the women, who works for a character company, she and her companion travel all over the country doing shows with BSDi, along with other costumed characters, like Chuckie the Daemon himself.

The "Daemon girls," as they are known, pose for pictures with show visitors and hand out not only the popular headbands, but the long, pointy tails as well. As I walked away from the Daemon girls, a troop of guys with the Chuckie horns approached. "Did you pose for a picture with one of the models?" I asked, and was answered with a chorus of yesses. "One of them promised to give me some tail," said a young man. "That's why I'm coming back."

Incarnations of the Penguin

Tux, the Linux penguin, is getting a lot of play these days. He's so Open Source. He shares himself with all kinds of companies, dressing up with a crown here, a sash there, and a pair of boots somewhere else. It's Tux holding a Corel building block, or Tux sporting a top hat and holding a pocket watch. The Mandrake Tux has a befuddled, slightly insane look on his face - reminiscent perhaps of the typical new Linux user that Mandrake seems to be targeting?

IBM had several inflatable Tux chairs in its booth which looked comfortable enough, but who wants to sit in a penguin's lap, especially when you know that silly Tux grin is right behind your head, probably laughing at your bad breath or struggling under your weight? Nevertheless, young slim hackers sprawled on the chairs, staring at their laptop screens.

The official Linux World penguin is geometric and spare, completely different from the cute, cuddly, personified Tux with whom we are familiar. One company took on the likeness of an Emperor penguin, which seemed discordant in its realism. But of all the manifestations of our friendly mascot, Chilliware takes the cake as the owner of the freakiest distribution of Tux. With his television host pose and cartoonish rendering, it's not a stretch to say he looks a bit like Daffy Duck at the intro to the Looney Toons show, singing "this is it, we'll hit the heights... and oh, what heights we'll hit..."

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