COMDEX in Chicago (April 20-23) was a titanic Linux hit. Vendors around us were astonished by the attention and business we drew to our booths.
The Linux Pavilion had a huge sign overhead (thanks to Carlie Fairchild of Linux Journal and Andy Wahtera, our new ZD/COMDEX representative), and multiple large floor signs guided people entering COMDEX to the Linux International Pavilion. We had a page on the COMDEX web site, mention in the Show Daily and other marketing “aids”.
Linux International vendors with booths in the Pavilion were Caldera, S.u.S.E., InfoMagic Inc., Linux Journal and Red Hat Software, Inc., a small number of vendors, but big in heart.
While smaller in attendance than its Las Vegas cousin, COMDEX in Chicago seemed to have a lot more end-user customers than the Las Vegas show—not really surprising when you consider Chicago is a cultural, economic and manufacturing center. While Mr. Bill was still trying to boot Windows 98 and have it stay up, the Linux International Pavilion was singing a sweet song. Some people thought we had set a new world's record for “longest line at COMDEX”--the line where people waited to pick up a free Linux CD-ROM.
I accompanied Red Hat's “booth gang”, Anna, Terry and Mike, to visit the Argonne National Laboratory and Western Suburban Chicago Linux Users Group (which thankfully is abbreviated AALUG and has its web site at http://hydra.pns.anl.gov/lug/lug-main.html). The meeting was actually held at the Fermi National Lab, which recently announced that Linux will be officially supported at their laboratory and with their applications. Donnie Barnes flew in from Durham, North Carolina to give a talk on Red Hat 5.0, and to help give out Red Hat “souvenirs”. I gave a brief talk at the end of Donnie's epic speech.
After the meeting ended, Dr. G. P. Yeh, a physicist in the computing division, invited us on a tour to see a particle-collider detector. Fermi is expanding their collider, and the new one is expected to produce more than 20 times the data of its predecessor. To expand the computing power to analyze and store this data in real time with traditional methods would have been very costly, so now Fermi is building a 1000-node Beowulf system to detect quarks (and other little things). Dr. Yeh told us that without Linux and the concept of Beowulf systems, the costs of supplying computer power for the next generation of collider would be many times what they are now forecasting.
Our sincere thanks to Dan Yocum for setting up the meeting at Fermi and advertising it, and to Dr. Yeh for showing us the collider.
On Wednesday S.u.S.E. gave a talk at the Chicagoland Linux Users Group, and on Thursday I gave a two-hour “ramble” to the same group after COMDEX was over. Then, tired and thirsty, most people retired to the Goose Island Brewpub.
The Chicagoland Linux Users Group (http://clug.cc.uic.edu/) helped to staff the Linux International booth, hand out flyers and line up user group meetings. So “thank you” to Clyde Reichie, Don Weimann, Simon Epsteyn, William Golembo, Gennagy “Ugean” Polishchuk, Long Huynh, Perry Mages, Viktorie Navratilova, Ben Galliart, Richard Hinton, and especially to Dave Blondell, the president, who organized the group and the schedules.
Linux International would like to encourage other Linux vendors to join us in the next Linux Pavilion at COMDEX, whether it be in Las Vegas or Chicago. We are definitely looking forward to the next COMDEX in the windy city. For information on membership or other information about Linux International, visit our web site, http://www.li.org/.