The Linux Faithful Invade San Jose

by Jason Schumaker

I talked with Jon "maddog" Hall about this when he stopped by the LJ booth. maddog was very excited about the size of the show and the fact that we have become too big for our own britches. Moving the show to Moscone is a solid stick by which to measure the growth and acceptance of Linux, but it isn't necessarily enough for him. maddog talked about the mile-long tradeshow floor at the convention center in New Orleans, saying, "We will really know we have made it when we can fill that place." That's maddog, always looking to the future.

I spent most of my time in the Linux Journal booth helping answer general questions about LJ and Linux, signing up subscribers, giving out magazines and T-shirts, and meeting with the occasional vendor. Of course, LJ was once again giving away our now-famous inflatable penguin chairs! If you didn't get one at the show, you can purchase one at our on-line store (

The Capitalist Keynote

There was time for me to venture out onto the floor and to other events. I was able to catch Michael Dell's keynote address, which was fairly interesting. The Dellster was quite personable and seemed to have the favor of the crowd... early on. He spoke highly of Linux and Dell's commitment to helping Linux grow. He said the future of software development seems to be the open-source development model. Dell said that "Linux can be a highly disruptive technology to many companies entrenched in proprietary models."

His speech wasn't completely a marketing pitch, but he certainly included plenty of that. After all, he is Michael Dell, self-proclaimed capitalist. This proclamation came near the end of his Q&A session with the crowd. Here is where we saw Dell stumble a bit. When asked why his Linux systems cost more than Windows boxes, he stammered and evaded and eventually got around to saying that his company makes money based on the number of units shipped. He went on to talk about fair markups and so on. What hurt him was when he said, "We're capitalists and we won't apologize for trying to make money for our shareholders."

Hmmm... probably not the best thing to spout to an open-source-dominant crowd. However, I'm not really letting it taint my support for Dell. I support Dell, because Dell supports Linux. Dell sells more computers every day than any company in the world, and if they are selling Linux pre-installed on systems, then I can't see a real reason to object. If I were buying a pre-configured Linux system I wouldn't go to Dell, but if the general public does... better for Linux.

IDG/Linus Torvalds Community Award

Immediately after the Dell keynote, Linus and IDG awarded $25,000 to the Debian project for their tireless efforts at furthering the Linux cause. Congratulations to Debian! The impetus for the award, of course, is to give a nice chunk of cash to a Linux/open-source company that has given back to the community. As Linus said, "You can take, but you have to give back."

Linus presented the award to the Debian group, saying, "I always enjoy giving away other people's money." He added, "I hope it (the money) won't cause undue strife. It's (figuring out how to spend the money) a good problem to have." I would think Debian should be able to put the money to good use.

The Announcements and More

Linux Journal has a new Editor-at-Large. Richard Vernon made his LJ debut at LinuxWorld. You will be hearing more about him soon, but feel free to welcome him to the community. He can be reached at We are very excited to have him join the LJ staff. Welcome Richard!!

Linux Journal was voted "Best Publication" for the second straight year by LinuxWorld attendees! Thanks to everyone at the show who voted for LJ. We really appreciate (and need) your support.

Corel announced that Michael Cowpland has stepped down as CEO of the company. The company press release said he was doing so "in order to dedicate his time and resources to new start-up opportunities". Dr. Cowpland will remain as a director and technology advisor to the company. Best of luck to both.

VA Linux unveiled BOSS (Built-to-Order Software Selector), which allows customers to point and click their way through a custom system configuration. A customer can choose from over 700 software components. VA Linux will then install the software and ship the system per customer request. The system seems slick! Learn more at

The Electronic Freedom Foundation had a booth directly behind LJ. If you aren't familiar with this non-profit organization, you should be ashamed of yourself. Check out their web site immediately ( and more importantly, make a donation... they need MONEY! The EFF was formed to protect freedom on the Internet. They do their fighting in the courts. One current battle involves representing the Open Source software community against the movie studios over the right to publish and link to DeCSS software. This is something we all need to get involved in. Join their organization today... they will send you a cool T-shirt, and your self-esteem will soar!

Linus Torvalds announced that the next kernel should be released in a few months. He acknowledges that Linux is still a few years away from appealing to the masses, and admits that his parents and daughters prefer Windows and Macintosh systems over Linux. Yikes!! Let's focus on the good stuff: the new kernel will be out this fall.

Caldera's Ransom Love showed off Cosmos, their new Linux management solution. This tool provides a single point for managing multiple systems on your network. Get more info from the Caldera web site (

Transmeta has filed with the SEC to raise $200 million in an intial public offering. Is it wrong for me to be yawning? If you're excited by this, I apologize. The ticker symbol will be TMTA.

GNOME announced the formation of the GNOME Foundation, which will promote the development of the GNOME desktop and its continued efforts to make Linux easier to use. Part of the announcement involved the adoption of Eazel's Nautilus as the standard file manager for GNOME. I liked what I saw at the Eazel booth, but certainly need more time to explore the tool. Check out both web sites for more information ( and

Microsoft has vehemently denied that third-party developer Mainsoft is working on a Linux port for Office. My message to Microsoft: Resistance is Futile. My second message to Microsoft: Office?! We don't need no stinking Office!

The Wrap-up

I always love attending trade shows, and LinuxWorld is usually the most exciting because it's all about Linux. This is our chance to show the world how much Linux has grown and how important it has become to the computing world. The sheer size of the show proves that Linux is far from having reached its potential. Those of us in the community know that Linux is ready for use in the enterprise, as well as the desktop. With over 165 vendors (100 of which were new!) and tens of thousands of attendees, LinuxWorld provided enough evidence that Linux is continuing its ascent. But, there are still those who doubt and we must continue to educate. Keep spreading the word, and keep attending the shows! It's important. Let Linux Journal know about your LinuxWorld experiences and stories.

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