LinuxWorld Boston 2006 Wrap-Up

by Kevin Shockey

Many people who attended last week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in
Boston are able to provide a comparison of it to previous years' shows.
But I'm not one of them, as it was my first LinuxWorld--although I'm
sure I wasn't the only first-timer there.

For its second year in Boston, the show moved to the gargantuan Boston Convention
and Exhibition Center facility. In some ways, it was difficult to
get a sense of the size of the crowd, because the facility is so big--attendees
were spread far and wide. In talking with exhibitors
and other repeat attendees, though, the general consensus was attendance
was down from previous years. Many attendees noted that the east coast LinuxWorld
event used to be held in New York City, and they believed
it was more popular there. Bruce Perens, who gave the
"State of Open Source" press conference, agreed with that observation
and noted that with the glaring absence of exhibition cornerstone companies IBM and HP,
it's obvious that the event should return to New York.

Exhibitors included the obligatory projects and
foundations, and the OSTG Slashdot Lounge clearly was one of the
most popular exhibitors within the pavilion. The Lounge featured a
steady line-up of activities and personalities, along with the
announcement of its First Ever Annual Community Choice Awards. The best overall
project winner was the Azureus-BitTorrent Client; Azureus is a powerful,
full-featured, cross-platform, Java-based BitTorrent client.

Another large group of exhibitors was at the show in support of enterprise-focused system
administration tools, many of which I had never heard of. One
company that seemed to receive a popular response from attendees was
VMware. Most of the times I wandered by their booth, a big crowd was
watching demonstrations and asking questions. The last big group
of exhibitors on site saw was a healthy representation of commercial
open-source companies pushing their applications, including Alfresco,
Business Objects, GreenPlum, Pentaho and

Overall, Novell seemed to have the biggest presence of all the exhibitors.
In addition to having its own booth, the company sponsored the Zen
Email Garden. Also, Novell won the Best of Show award for its OpenSUSE product,
which recognizes the best total industry solution, as well as the Best Application
Development Platform award for the Mono Development Framework.

Although I was able to attend a couple Birds of a Feather (BOF)
sessions, I was unable to attend any keynotes or breakout sessions. I couldn't
attend because TUX, for which I'm Editor in Chief,
conducted a three-day event that coincided with LinuxWorld. In conjunction
with IDG Events Group, we hosted
ABCs of Desktop Linux: Everything you Need to Start Using Linux
. The ABCs event came about because at previous events, the LinuxWorld team
consistently received requests for more introductory material on
Linux. So, we partnered with them to fill that need.

Our ABCs event provided three daily presentations on such subjects as
introducing what desktop Linux is, exploring the office
suite and showing what can be done with Linux. Luckily, all of our
sessions were well attended, with a majority of participants exactly matching
our expected audience. We also had more experienced Linux users
in the audience, such as system administrators. Some of these sysadmins
were looking to learn more about desktop Linux so they could help friends
and coworkers try Linux for the first time.

We were fortunate to have the participation of several groups that made
the ABCs event possible. First, Dell donated the use of four laptops
on which we installed four different Linux distributions. It was an
interesting laboratory for us to install four different distributions on the
exact same hardware, all at the same time. We installed Fedora Core
5, SuSE Linux 10.0, Linspire Five-O and Ubuntu Breezy Badger 5.10. The
purpose of these machines was to provide participants with an opportunity to
touch and feel Linux. We also received CDs from Ubuntu Linux that were
distributed to everyone attending our sessions.

Linspire was another great source of support. The company provided us
with hundreds of copies of Linspire CNR editions, which includes a one-year
free subscription to CNR, as well as hundreds of copies of the
book The No Nonsense Guide! Linspire Five-O, which
includes a live Linspire Five-O CD. All attendees received copies of both.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, we had the participation of Kendall Dawson,
Community Liaison for Linspire. No company ever had a better ambassador
and evangelist. Dawson brought a level of enthusiasm and professionalism
that was contagious to everyone.

As I mentioned in my sessions, our ABCs activity plus many other
exciting activities truly are bringing about a desktop Linux
reality. Two particularly exciting events are coming up. Later this
month, Linspire, Novell, Red Hat and Ubuntu (among others) will host
the 4th Annual Desktop
Linux Summit
, which is the only event to focus exclusively on
Linux and open source for desktop computing. Second, in August
TUX and IDG will team up once again to sponsor a new
Linux user activity at the
Conference & Expo
in San Francisco. Those attending these events
should be prepared to participate in the growing momentum towards the arrival
of desktop Linux. We hope to see you there.

Kevin Shockey is the Editor in Chief of

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