The two biggest names in the Linux industry – Linus Torvalds and Red Hat – skipped out on LinuxWorld again.
It’s no surprise. Torvalds, the creator and lead developer of the Linux kernel, rarely delivers keynotes or makes public appearances at conferences. His right-hand man, the No. 2 kernel maintainer Andrew Morton opened up the show this year.
“We always ask Linus [to give a speech]. Linus gets to do what he wants and he chooses not to speak in public,” said Melinda Kendall, vice president and general manager of IDG World Expo, as she introduced Morton before his keynote on Monday afternoon.
Torvalds often makes public comments on issues affecting Linux such as the recent General Public License 3, but he has decided to take a more private posture in the future, said one source close to the Linux Foundation.
“He’s doing his own thing and he’s sick of being a public figure. After 15 years, he doesn’t want it anymore and he has retreated to the background to work on the kernel.”
Red Hat is another no show. Its Fedora group occupied a small booth in the open source projects pavilion on the show floor but its commercial parent, Red Hat, the leading distributor of Linux, did not have a booth at the show for the second year in a row. Executives made no apologies.
In a brief meeting at LinuxWorld, vice president of business development Mike Evans said Red Hat focuses its marketing activities on customers and LinuxWorld is a developers show. The company holds an annual summit in the spring.
Putting the focus on Fedora is appropriate because of the sizable contingency of developers who come to the show, he said. “We look at it every year,” Evans said of Red Hat’s participation in LinuxWorld. “We do want to make sure the community aspects of Fedora get some airplay. They don’t get enough as much as they deserve.”
Perhaps more significantly, Red Hat does not have deep pockets like its proprietary brethren and must spend its marketing dollars carefully, he said. “We have to be judicious about where we spend our money,” he said. “We’re not like Google and Microsoft and can spend $10 million each quarter and no one notices. “