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August 14, 1999
Day Three, August 12, San Jose Convention Center: The final day at LinuxWorld Expo is the wheeler-dealer day. All deals are closed and new deals are broached.
One of the booths at the exhibition is host to a local radio station. This is Business Radio 12.20 am (http://www.kbzs.com).
They are interviewing all the luminaries and if you want to get close to people like Richard Stallman, John 'maddog' Hall, Tom Chritiansen and Larry Augustin, all you have to do is hang around the booth.
Today I decided to cover the .org pavilion. This pavilion is hosting the best of the free efforts on promoting Linux on the Net.
I cornered Rob Malda or 'CmdrTaco' of slashdot.org. Rob is a 22-year-old guy who runs the popular slashdot.org site (http://www.slashdot.org). One look and him and you can tell he is the textbook Linux geek. Sprawled on a beanbag and typing away on a slim Sony Vaio laptop, sucking on a glass of cola, Rob is a workaholic.
We spoke about Linux in India and how it can change the entire piracy issue in India. Also he is quite surprised to see so much mail coming to him from India. I invite him to speak at the LinuxIndia conference that TFCI will hopefully re-organise soon.
Rob then showed me some cool stuff on slashdot.org that he is working on and I swapped some cool stuff that I have been working on; mostly my yet-another-Linux-portal (YALP!), called www.morelinux.com (http://www.morelinux.com) that is slated for an early release. This will offer a couple of interesting new technologies for the Web. Rob is interested and hopefully some of the stuff will appear at slashdot.org.
Richard Stallman is next. At the Free Software Pavilion he is animatedly speaking about GNU and its role in Linux development. So remember guys, it's GNU-Linux and not just Linux. But as some guy said... What's in a name?
The people from Debian at the .org pavilion are displaying several versions of Debian on different systems.
Unbelievably, they have Debian Linux running on; hold your breath, a Mac SE!
Yow! It's like putting a 1999 Porsche engine in a 1960 Ambassador car.
Debian Linux seems to be popular among the more serious Linux geeks. Rob is already moving slashdot from Red Hat to Debian.
Anyway, I got myself a couple of free CDs of Debian Linux that they were handing out at the show. That's the cool thing about this LinuxWorld Expo. All... well almost all software is free and therefore shareable. Like, I got myself a copy of WordPerfect for Linux and as many copies as I could lay my hands on of Red Hat 6.0... software heaven!
Also seen at the Debian booth is www.linuxlaptops.com (http://www.linuxlaptops.com) for all those who need help setting up laptops with Linux.
Debian won a slew of awards for best distribution of Linux and best software tool etc. Very impressive!
Today's giveaway of the day for me was at the Compaq pavilion. You fill in an online survey form and you get a metal license plate for your car that says 'LINUX'. Cool!
There are a lot of companies doing Linux training and certification activities. These companies like LinuxCare.com are offering certified courses on Linux development, administration etc. I wonder how long will it take before Indian training giants like NIIT and Aptech begin offering Linux courses.
A lot of people are signing up for these courses but you could immediately make out the disdain they receive from the Linux geeks who seemed to be saying "Hey man, don't throw your money away read the HOWTO and get a life..."
As for the range of software available on Linux, there is everything from UPS management software from APC to financial analysis software.
I am really impressed with the quality of software and range of it! Now there is no reason to stick around with legacy operating systems...
Also, the range of development tools boggles my mind... I am a bit concerned, however, because this could open up development to novice programmers who believe in the F7 model of debugging (people who know, will know what I mean by F7, remember Turbo C 2.0?). For instance there is CodeWarrior from MetroWorks who have this development software on 52 platforms!
The Linux version is incredible and I imagine lots of companies can now use this simple GUI compiler / debugger / IDE. There are lots of other IDEs but CodeWarrior wins hands down.
Anyway, like root beer, all good things come to an end. Now they have started dimming the lights and announcing 'The exhibits are now closed'.
A furious exchange of swappable materials is in progress. I am grabbing all the penguin mints I can get along with t-shirts, cloth Frisbees and beanbag penguins.
I am carrying two bags in each hand filled to the brim with hundreds of stickers, buttons, posters, pens, coffee cups, caps, monitor sweepers (don't ask), wiggle sticks, squishy rubber balls and other unmentionable objects ;-).
Nobody wants to leave and only when the security guys move around herding everyone towards the door that the vendors start disassembling their booths and packing.
I can't wait for the next one in February 2000 in Big Apple. Maybe I will have a booth there...
Gautam Godse is president and CEO of Questionable Ventures Inc, a new company he started for developing Linux software and portals. You can reach him at email@example.com for suggestions, criticisms and offers of free beer! He is also the coordinator of the Pune Linux Users' Group at http://www.plug.org.in. He also helped start India's first private ISP, WMINet .
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