The alternative operating system will enjoy a very prominent role at the upcoming Windows World and Comdex/Spring '99 in Chicago. This year, the huge computing exhibition will feature a Linux Pavilion filled with Linux-related products. Its attendees will be treated to a series of symposia called Linux Global Summit.
In addition, alter egos Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds will hold back-to-back keynotes -- although Microsoft chief Gates will appear in one venue and Linux creator Torvalds will be in another.
And it's sure to make for a compelling contrast -- and theater. "This will really be the first time people will be able to see the two godfathers talk about their thing at the same time," said Bill Bierman, the show's general manager.
The dueling keynotes will take place as Microsoft turns up rivalry with Linux. During a speech in Houston Wednesday, Gates attempted to portray the alternative OS as peripheral, saying that Linux would only have a minor impact on the industry.
Technically, Windows World and Comdex/Spring '99 are different shows. But both are taking place simultaneously, starting April 18.
Comdex organizers are expecting more demand for the Gates speech. His keynote will take place in a forum that can hold about 6,000 people.
Torvalds, who created Linux eight years ago, will speak in a nearby room that holds only 600. Gates' speech is open to all attendees while only those involved in the show's Linux symposia are invited to Torvalds'.
In addition, Silicon Graphics Inc. (NYSE:SGI) Chief Executive Richard Belluzzo plans to outline his company's Linux strategy during a keynote Monday night. During fall Comdex, he summarized his company's NT strategy.
Bierman called Comdex a "comparative environment," where people can weigh the different operating systems and accompanying software.
Though the Spring Comdex show is usually much smaller than Comdex/Fall, the Linux Pavilion will be bigger than it was during last November's event. Plus, unlike previous pavilions, this one will host large companies that haven't been associated with Linux until recently, such as Compaq Computer Corp. (NYSE:CPQ).
The pavilion also will have a more prominent location. Bierman said it would be three booths from the front of the main hall. In November, Linux companies were tucked away at the Sands hotel, miles from the main exhibit area.