Some of the corporate booths at this year's San Francisco LinuxWorld were bigger than what Microsoft puts up at regional "generic" computer shows. But the orgs -- the volunteer and cooperative groups that are the heart of Linux and Open Source, are still around (although hidden, as usual, behind the huge commercial displays), unfazed, unbattered and proud.
The one I found most fascinating was SHARE.org, an IBM users' group that has been around since 1955.
Yes, that date is correct. 1955. Back when the IBM 704 was first conceived and a few forward-looking companies, universities and government agencies had ordered them, some scientists and engineers got together to figure out how to use the things when they finally shipped, which they did in 1956.
According to the people personning the SHARE.org booth, members back then routinely wrote and swapped free software. GNU/Linux, to them, is like bell-bottom pants; so old a concept that it's new again. This was SHARE.org's first time at a major Linux show. What can we say? "Welcome, Daddy," I suppose.
KDE was back in the .org area too, basking in yet another show award. They were pretty blase about it. Waldo Bastian, one of the KDE folks in attendance, said they had won awards at every show they had been to in the last four years except the 2001 Comdex in Germany, where Windows 2000 beat KDE out for some sort of "best desktop" honor.
There were other orgs, large and small, all worthy of your support. Check the .org pavilion list to see them all.
We'll be talking to some of these fine groups in the future. But right now it's late, the show has worn me out, and I have an early flight to catch. And so, to bed.
- Robin Miller
San Francisco, California
10:53 p.m. PDT. 30 Aug 2001