But this is not Jim Zemlin's first rodeo. The executive director of the Linux Foundation told me he is seeing great momentum for Linux at this show.
I spoke with Zemlin (right, at right) following his talk before a few hundred people in a conference room at the Taiwan World Trade Center (TWTC), a subsidiary venue for CompuTex. The main exhibits are in the Nangang Exhibition space several miles away.
There are really two shows here, he said, one that you see and one that you don't.
"If you look at the show floor you're only seeing half the picture," he said.
"The argument I just made is real and people in Taiwan understand it and are looking for an alternative to Windows. They live in a world of very tight margins, of hyper competition, they struggle every day to differentiate. That comes from software, and Windows does not provide that diferentiation."
Zemlin's talk was scheduled after a talk on the Moblin project, which Intel has since passed on to the Foundation. The talk on Moblin seemed to draw more excitement than Zemlin's discussion of Linux. Dozens of people left the room after he began speaking.
This did not discourage him one bit, just as the Taiwanese habit of listening quietly and offering little reaction to what is heard did not discourage him. Nothing seems to discourage Jim Zemlin.,
In response to a question about Moblin and Android, he admitted that Android currently has an advantage, because of the HTC phones already on the market. But he predict Moblin will shine in the coming "convergence" world where laptops and phones become one.
"In the next 6-12 months, when you start seeing Moblin devices in the market, when it's productized, you'll see developer interest go crazy," he predicted.
While we sat we also compared netbooks. I showed him the HP Mini 1000 I bought at Fry's, which only had Windows versions. He showed me an identical device (only with more internal memory) he had bought at the HP web site, for the same price I paid, and with Ubuntu Linux installed.
As in so many things Zemlin's answer to problems in the channel is to find another channel. Actions to live by.