Author: JT Smith
Author: JT Smith
Author: JT Smith
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
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
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
Next week, I’ll be back in Philadelphia, rocking it on an
Author: JT Smith
Editor in Chief
Company-sponsored parties are an integral part of the trade show scene. They are also an expensive proposition for their sponsors — and don’t always create as much good feeling as the people who run them would like.
I am turning in this bit of copy about 15 hours later than originally planned because I spent last night checking out several corporate parties associated with this year’s LinuxWorld in San Jose. This is not the easiest part of covering a trade show but somebody has to do it, and I was self-selected for the task.
Computer show parties are always a bit tilted toward male participation because, like it or not, there are far more men than women in the business. This gender imbalance is especially pronounced at Unix and Linux shows; the “Chicks dig Unix” T-shirts worn by some of the show’s attendees were pure wishful thinking. Men outnumbered women by between 4:1 and 10:1 at every show party I visited.
And yet, several of the most expansive parties held here in San Jose this week were held in dance bars, as if they were expected to have a “normal” male:female ratio.
Tuesday night, for example, MandrakeSoft, publishers of Linux-Mandrake, took over a bar called Polly Esther’s, a place with three dance floors and hardly anywhere to sit and chat, not that the high noise level made conversation possible anyway. So the “party” ended up being primarily a horde of milling (mostly) males sucking down booze, which was free, and standing around looking lost.
Polly Esther’s is apparently used to hosting a slighly rougher crowd than this one. They had three large headset-wearing bouncers working the front door, with more inside, all scanning the crowd with wary eyes. If a flame war had suddenly broken out between competing GUI development groups Gnome and KDE, there would have been little chance of it turning into a dangerous physical melee. But no such battle ensued, perhaps because of all the security. Instead, the crowd’s competitive spirits went into raiding the snack tables, which were loaded only with a scanty selection of appetizers.
The AMD party earlier Tuesday evening, held in the San Jose Fairmont Hotel, featured a full buffet and less obtrusive (if any) security. But by the time I got there, about 90 minutes after it started, the food was gone so I cannot comment on its quality except to report from second-hand sources that it was tasty, at least in the judgement of people who had spent the entire day on their feet and had eaten little else since waking up 10 or 15 hours earlier.
But last night — Wednesday — was the big party night. VA Linux, our very own parent company, rented a dance bar called The Usual, which I heard was of considerable size. I was not able to attend this party for several reasons, including long entry lines, music beyond my personal decibel tolerance, and the sad fact that I was part of a group that included several Debian developers and Linux.com volunteers who were under 21, and local laws, enforced by yet more tough bouncers, kept them out of the bar despite the fact that the Debian “Potato” distribution release the party was supposed to celebrate had been produced in part by talented teenagers.
The younger crowd got sent to a coffee bar across the street with tickets that got them free non-alcoholic beverages, which some of them felt it was rather like being banished to the children’s table at a family gathering. We can’t really fault VA’s staff for this. Their community relations people said that they chose the party venues they did because they were the only ones available within a reasonable walk of the San Jose convention center and the hotels where a majority of attendees were staying.
Indeed, according to one VA staffer, a second entire bar and pool hall they rented next to The Usual as a gathering spot for attendees of all ages who wanted to keep their ears intact, was allowing underage patrons to enter (as long as they did not consume alcohol) when VA checked it out — but that they had done their research during the day, and it turned out that local laws allowed the sub-21 crowd in during the day but not at night. Arrgh!
Meanwhile, across the street, the party spot selected by Helix-Gnome allowed entrance to anyone 18 or over, but the manager was yelling so loudly about calling the police on anyone underage who so much as touched a glass of booze that the entrance experience was far from pleasant, and during the party’s first minutes employees were charging for drinks even though the sponsors had “bought the bar.” At least this place had an outdoor patio where smokers could congregate, which was a plus for many of us because California does not allow smoking in bars, and the music was quiet enough that we could carry on conversations without yelling.
Perhaps San Jose is not a good place to hold conventions that have parties attached to them, especially if many attendees are under 21. There were none of the problems described above at the LinuxWorld Expo held in New York City last February.
And hopefully, the LinuxWorld expo scheduled for summer of 2001 won’t have most of these party problems, either. It is going to be held in San Francisco, not San Jose.