By now, most of the Linux community is aware of Microsoft's first full-frontal assault on Linux, based on their claim that "the Linux operating system is not suitable for mainstream usage by business or home users."
There has been plenty of thoughtful reaction to this; I don't think I can do better than Jonathan Corbett's response in the Linux Weekly News.
Having said that, I suggest a little levity: don't hate Microsoft, ridicule them. I highly recommend a look at the current issue of Mad Magazine (number 386). While its offer of six different ways to kill a Pokémon Pikachu is reason enough to buy it, I think many readers here will appreciate Mad's take on Microsoft's legal fight with the U.S. Department of Justice. They speculate on what would happen if the trial was run by Judge Judy -- definitely worthwhile reading.
And now to the main course.
Montréal is like no other city on the continent. The taxicabs are Toyota Camrys, and restaurants that are merely good don't survive while some of the hundreds of others invite you to bring your own wine. There are two underground cities; the subterranean pedestrian walkways that are kept open year round, and the tunnels that are dug through the snow each winter. In general, this city seems to know how to have a good time better than anywhere else. For me, it's worth coming just to make a pilgrimage to the world's finest deli, Schwartz's.
Enough travelog. In early October, the traveling IT-hype road show known to most of us as Comdex rolled through this city. But make no mistake; Comdex Québec (which Web site you use depends on whether you pronounce it KAY-bec or KWE-bec) is far more than just a warm-up to the annual pilgrimage to Comdex Fall in Las Vegas next month.
This is, for the most part, a show done in French with English provided where necessary. Unlike Comdex Miami, a show that teaches English-speaking people how to sell in Latin America, the Montréal show is predominantly done in French to reflect the way most people do business around here.
Different language, same Linux
One thing, however, is no different. As at most Comdex shows this year, the Linux presence is clear and popular. Two large Linux booths, with very different flavors, made certain that conference-goers were aware of the main alternative to the booth that asked Jusqu'où irez-vous? ("Where do you want to go?").
"This was our coming-out party," said Martin Dumas, administrative director of Group ITPS, a Linux consulting firm which had a large, slick booth that was prominently identified as Comdex's Linux Showcase. ITPS has been in existence since February, and Dumas said Comdex provided the company with the perfect audience to show off its Linux smarts. The company was giving seminars throughout the conference, and also had demonstrations of Linux running on a SPARC and iMac. "This has been a very big success for us," Dumas said.
At the other end of the show hall was another Linux booth. Headed by Linux-Québec and arranged with the assistance of the Canadian Linux Users' Exchange, this booth comprised a number of small consultancies and a bunch of eager volunteers.
"It's gone very well here," said Cyrille Béraud, director of Savoir-faire Linux, one of the groups involved in the Linux-Québec booth. "I've seen interest from a number of corporate IT managers, as well as people from the Québec government," he said. The booth was split roughly in half between serious demonstrations of Linux, and people playing Quake.
La joie de Linux
The Linux conference spirit won't go away very quickly in Montréal. Within just a few weeks, a technical conference called Alternative: Linux will open a few blocks from the Comdex site.
"We have two worries about the conference, whether we get too few people or too many," said Robert Cajolet, president of the local Camelot chain of computer bookstores, one of the Alternative: Linux sponsors.
Cajolet, who says his camelot.ca online bookstore is doing extremely well throughout the French-speaking world, says the Montréal Linux scene is incredibly active. In keeping with the city's spirit, Cajolet's stores give out 3D glasses so that you can meet him up close and personal.
Organizers expect about 400 people to Alternative: Linux, which boasts Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond among its speakers. The conference, put on by Camelot together with the 8D consulting firm and Le Centre de Recherche Informatique de Montréal (CRIM), is being sponsored by IBM, Oracle, and a number of local firms.
I expect the conference will be first class. At the very least, I know that Stallman and Raymond will be able to sample some of the best dining in the world. They may even make it to Schwartz's, if they're lucky.