March 31, 2006

Symantec (heart) Linux?

Author: Tina Gasperson

With LinuxWorld Conference and Exposition approaching, security vendor Symantec began nestling up to Linux reporters. The company sent out an invitation to a come-one-come-all "media appreciation dinner" at a tony Boston restaurant the first night of LWCE, perking up the ears of dozens of open source writers and starting the wheels of speculation turning. What could Symantec want with the Linux press? But the dinner was canceled due to "conflicts," according to Symantec's PR firm, which makes us wonder, does that mean Symantec doesn't appreciate us anymore?

Ruminations have been running rampant regarding Symantec's flurry of interest leading up to LinuxWorld, though the company has been at least a little interested in Linux for years. It even considered putting Linux on its enterprise desktops a couple of years ago. All along, the interest has been kind of like a cat sniffing around a partially opened can of tuna, trying to figure out how to pry the damned thing open to get a bite. After all, this is Linux, an operating system not generally considered by its users to be too virus-susceptible. Linux servers need antivirus software to protect Windows workstations from infection, but beyond that, it's been a tough sell for Symantec.

But Symantec keeps trying, probably because it sees the continued growth of the Linux market and it wants a share. So much so that instead of just using LinuxWorld briefing opportunities to sell itself, the company's marketeers are asking journalists at the conference to share with them what's going on with Linux. Can you see the cat licking her whiskers? And if so, what does it mean when a fancy dinner for journos gets canned? It can't be that Symantec all of a sudden changed its mind about appreciating the media. The official excuse was conflicts with the restaurant and the presenter, but the organizer also said that very few reporters had contacted her to accept the invitation. Maybe Symantec didn't want to throw a party and not have anyone show.

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