Linux World Expo and Conference New York 2002 -- Report

From Wednesday January 30th, to Friday February 2nd, the Debian Project was present at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in New York City. Representing Debian were Clint Adams, Dann Frazier, Joey Hess, Jimmy Kaplowitz, Matt Taggart, and myself (Jaldhar Vyas). Other developers who dropped by were Christophe Barbe, Chris Fearnley, Laurence J. Lane, Kenshi Muto, Roger So, and Takatsugu Nokubi.

After some initial problems with the show management not wanting to give us power or network connectivity in our booth (which were happily resolved) we got machines of several architectures (sparc, mips, alpha, and parisc) running which most visitors found quite impressive.

The size of the show was smaller and the mood more subdued than previous years. Large companies like Sun, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard dominated the floor. Which brings me to the good news. While IPO-fueled hysteria is a thing of the past, Linux itself is still being taken seriously by suits and techies alike.

The visitors to our booth seemed to fall into basic classes. People who were familiar with Linux who were well aware of Debian and people who were completely new to Linux who had no idea what Debian was at all. Perhaps the Debian community can find ways of reaching out to this second group? Against expectations, I found that our staunch advocacy of free software did not alarm anyone--even the suits. This is important to note because a persistent piece of FUD is that you have to tone down such ideas when dealing with corporate people. It's not necessary. You just need to be sympathetic to their concerns and honestly answer their questions.

The only hairy situation came about when a guy from iPlanet almost seduced us into the world of proprietary software with his dark, hypnotic sales pitch and enticing plastic binder. Luckily we managed to find excuses to avoid attending his demo and thus falling under his power and the plastic binder mysteriously disappeared. However it is still at large and presumed dangerous.

The top questions on peoples minds were: "When is woody going to be released?" and "What are you going to do to improve the installation?"

All in all we had fun meeting people and showing off our little gem of an OS. We made almost $1500 in t-shirt sales to benefit the project.

We would like to thank Sun Microsystems for lending us an Ultra10 system and a cool flat-screen monitor.

Jaldhar H. Vyas