LinuxWorld SF 06: Closing Report

Posted on August 18, 2006

And so yet another LinuxWorld has come and gone. This year, for the first time, OpenSolaris was an official .Org booth and I had the honor of running the booth for the community. All in all it was a very good show. Attendance was lower this year than in any year gone past, at least based on what I saw. The talk of the show was about what wasn’t there: Red Hat. Journalists were asking everyone they could find about what Red Hat’s abscence meant and several articles have appeared. The big news about OpenSolaris was a really sad FUD attack by IBM VP Dan Frye, which more than anything just suggests that IBM and others consider OpenSolaris a threat.

Despite the low attendance of the show in general we did really well in our booth. While we all try to have really kool demos to show off just about any exhibitor will tell you that you rarely can get people to sit through a demo no matter how exciting. Most people at the show want to chat and see quick and nifty thing, nothing in depth, which makes enticing people really difficult. Thankfully due to the great kindness of Sun’s Bill Moore (ZFS co-inventor) we had a Sun Fire X4500, aka “Thumper” on hand. Thumper was a huge draw and was wonderful because it allowed us to talk about Sun’s future direction, innovation and return to engineering excellence, open development, and ZFS all in a single swipe. Additionally, Alan DuBoff brought his MacBook Pro on which he was running OpenSolaris using BootCamp. Between Thumper and the MacBook people were really excited and most of the “What about driver support?” issues went out the window quickly.

We were well stocked with swag, thanks to Teresa Giacomini. A box of 100 OpenSolaris Starter Kit DVD’s disappeared in the first 3 hours of the show. I came with another box on Wed and they went almost as fast and I was forced to pull some aside into a private stash for the super-needy who might arrive later. We also had piles of shirts (50 or so) which we gave to thoughs who really were excited about OpenSolaris and those went like hot-cakes. Stocking up swag for a show is tough. I was talking with some friends at the Splunk booth who are notorious for giving out gobs of shirts and asked “How many shirts did you bring?”… the answer was 1,200 shirts! Damn. Splunk of course is sparing no expense in getting out the word and its working, Splunk is now a common word in just about every data center around.

In the booth was a pretty star studded cast. Michelle Olson, Teresa Giacomini, Alan DuBoff, Bill Moore, Steven Lau, Dan Price, Edward Pilatowicz, and others all helped out at the booth talking with folks and brining their particular talents to conversations. A number of other Sun folks stopped by while in attendance at the show to say hello and give a supporting thumbs up.

We were visited by several members of the press and it was nice to get the word out first hand. I had the honor of doing an interview with a Japanesse analyst through an interpreter which was really kool. ComputerWorld came over to talk with us and Michelle had a good chat with him, lots of notes were taken. Eugenia Loli-Queru of OS News stopped by and we had a lovely talk. Timothy of Slashdot stopped by and swapped me a /. shirt for an OpenSolaris shirt, and we learned that we both share a love for WarGames, Ally Sheedy, 80’s Nerd fashion, and pocket protectors; I’ve gotta hang out with him some time. We even got an on camera interview with Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miller of NewsForge, although I haven’t seen the video pop up.

On the first evening of the show a special dinner was held by the PostgreSQL project, which we were all invited to. From the OpenSolaris side, Michelle Olson, Alan DuBoff, Alan Coopersmith (at the show representing Xorg), and myself were in attendance. Josh Berkus, head of the PostgreSQL project, is of course now a Sun employee so we count him as one of our own as well. The resteruant was interesting, serving up Peruvian cuisine, which wasn’t really up my ally. Alan and I both picked and proded at each course as it went by, getting public mention from time to time, untill finally the last dish was basically the Peruvian equivilent of steak and potatoes and we both chowed down. The night was made more interesting because the joint was across town from the show so we all enjoyed a ride on the streetcar over, which was unique. Sitting across from me was the chief editor of, and other notable figures were all about, so I enjoyed eves dropping on conversations throughout the nite.

I spent most of Thursday in search of Mr. Dan Frye of IBM after I learned of his comments reguarding OpenSolaris being a “facade”, as reported by CNet News. I sat outside his morning session but was alas too late, even though the session was schedualed to go 10 minutes more the room was empty. I searched the show, I left a note at the IBM booth desk, I asked everyone I could, search room after room looking for his but never found him. Supposedly he was giving interviews to OSTG all afternoon but still never found him. Its a shame, really, I’d liked to have had a pleasent realtime conversation rather than leave a rather rude open letter like I did, but what will be will be, I suppose.

And so now the show is over. We made lots of new friends, enjoyed meeting up with many old friends, we had some fun and collected a bunch of new stories to tell. What will happen with LinuxWorld next year? Who knows, the shows future really felt uncertain based on the turnout and Red Hat power play this year, so we’ll have to watch and wait. Reguardless, we’ve yet again shown that we can take OpenSolaris to the masses at shows even bent toward Linux and hold our own. I’m endlessly thankful to everyone who helped out and made the show a success.