August 17, 2000

Thursday<BR>Speaking of GNU/Linux

Author: JT Smith

By: Emmett Plant
Live from LWCE
Well, I'm here, reporting live from LinuxWorld
Conference and Expo, the show I talked about last
week. T-shirts. Nothing else matters. I can't tell you
how much swag is available at this show, everything
from little "horn" things for the BSD people to T-shirts to
stickers to temporary tattoos. It's kind of insane.

I'm sitting here in a black beanbag chair at the OSDN
booth, which features Slashdot, Linux.com,
Sourceforge, ThinkGeek and all the other OSDN
properties." Jessica Sheffield from Linux.com has got a
couple computers up on the stage, and getting
inexperienced people to install Red Hat and Debian on
two workstations, teaching the maybe-not-so-clued
audience members how to do it. She's doing a fantastic
job, and people are getting into it. Sitting on a beanbag
chair, I'm sitting at a strange angle, and I'm almost
facing straight up. Jessica could kick me from here; I
best not say anything and stick to writing the column.

There are a lot of Linux.com'ers around the booth,
assisting with the presentation, but there are a lot more
people in the booth than usually hang out. Earlier,
myself and the rest of some other guys I work with
were roasting Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan. Every
time Khan would appear on the screen, the crowd
would scream "WASSUP!?" like in the Budweiser
commercial. I love this community.

Elsewhere at the show, I've seen women covered in
body paint, women in stilts and women dressing in
sharp black business suits. All of them love me. Well,
they love everyone. I covered the evils of marketing
people in the last column, I just wanted to let you know
that the lines are being blurred, and they're not just
smart looking blondes with smiles anymore, they're
entertainers, and getting smarter by the minute.

Last night, I went to the AMD party, and left with some
fantastic giveaway martini glasses. Friends and I
walked back to my room to discuss to the future of
Linux (I'll say what they said next week), the good and
bad things about the GPL versus the BSD license (The
week after) and the concepts of communist behavior,
capitalist behavior, and how it matters to the Linux
community (Never).

I can give you a little profile of the type of people that
this show caters to by telling a little about the people
who were discussing stuff in the room. There's Clyde,
who is a GPL enthusiast and works for a massive retail
empire; Jesse, who works for a massive application
server company; Sarah, who was between jobs but
starting work at another San Diego dot-com on
Thursday; Nathan, the systems administrato;, and
Emmett, the writer. None of us were over 25
years old.

I was out smoking on the patio today and ran into
Linus. Linus rocks. Just thought I'd mention that. He's
a fantastic, friendly contrast to the fascist security
guards who stand outside the conference. This one
women nearly drove me insane this morning. She
wasn't even letting people in when it was 10 in the
morning, the time the expo was supposed to open.
Meanwhile I chatted with Linus for a while and he was
affable as ever. I'll say it again. Linus rocks.

Linux is becoming viable business, and the hopeful "this
is the future" vibe has turned into a more mellow "let's
do this together" mode instead of the hyper-desperate
"please give us your money" pleas the pundits were
talking about the direction of Linux. The money is here,
the money is being spent, and for the first time,
companies are starting to realize that Linux is about
the community. Take care of the community on their
own terms, and everything will fall into place. There's no
reason why it can't happen. But, if you do it incorrectly
and send mixed messages to the community (Corel
and Sun, I'm talking to you), you will shoot yourself in
the foot.

Next week, I'll be back in Philadelphia, rocking it on an
ideological journey.

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