The view from LinuxWorld

Let me offer a bit of advice unrelated to IT for just a moment. If you ever get the chance to take a road trip from Denver to San Francisco, take it.

Let me offer a bit of advice unrelated to IT for just a moment. If you ever get the chance to take a road trip from Denver to San Francisco, take it. Some of the best scenery in the world lies between those two cities. Let me offer one other piece of advice -- if you do take the roadtrip, make sure to spread it out so you have plenty of time to enjoy the sights. Making the drive in one day leaves a little to be desired in terms of appreciating scenery, not to mention being well-rested upon arrival.

I don't usually attend trade shows, but it's been a long time since I've been to a Linux show, and wanted to have the opportunity to speak face to face with people I talk to frequently via phone and e-mail. So I packed up the station wagon and made the trek to Linux World Conference and Expo, which is taking place this week in San Francisco. (Hence, the above reference to San Francisco...)  

My first LinuxWorld Expo was in 1999. If nothing else, the conferences are a useful watermark by which to judge the health and vitality of the Linux business community. The 1999 show was a bit more modest than this year's LWCE, and many of the vendors who were at the show in 1999 are no longer around -- but they've been replaced by a number of companies whose names are much more recognizable in the average household.

Even Microsoft wants in on a piece of the action. They're participating in LWCE this year, and I'm curious to see what Microsoft will have to say to the gathered throngs of people who are doing business with Linux. I'm looking forward to stopping by the Microsoft booth to talk a little turkey with the "other side." There is a healthy gathering of Linux-related projects here at the show, the Linux Terminal Server Project, Debian has a booth that they're sharing with, is represented, and many other groups are here -- but make no mistake, the vast majority of participants are people making a buck with Linux in one way or another.

Dana wonders whether the trip is worth it. Even though the conference floor hasn't opened yet, I'm already glad that I made the trip. There's a lot going on in the Linux community, and even covering the technology on daily basis, you don't really quite get the full sense of it until you see all of the companies and organizations bundled into one place. But the point is well-taken. I've been on both sides of the Expo, and I know how costly it is for a company to attend -- and one has to wonder if that money would be put to better use in advertising for the vast majority that don't attend LWCE. It often seems like an inefficient way for companies to draw attention to themselves. If I were running a smaller company in the Linux space, I'd schedule announcements for the two or three weeks running up to LWCE when the other companies are in hush-hush mode.

For attendees, though, I think the trip is worth it.There are a ton of (what appear to be) useful talks and sessions. Eben Moglen will be doing a talk on the GPL v3, which I'm looking forward to, and there will be a "State of Samba" talk which is also interesting... actually, there are more interesting talks than I will be able to attend -- and, naturally -- several interesting talks are being schedule simultaneously. It's not quite the techie conference that the Atlanta Linux Showcase was, (and how I miss that show!) but it's a good set of sessions anyway. I'm looking forward to the next three days, and I'll be sure to report in with more as the show goes on.