Most of the questions we got for LinuxWorld exhibitors were pretty general, with no specific exhibitor attached to them. I did my best to get appropriate people to answer them. Here are the results. (And for those who wonder... Kevin Mitnick emailed - he's been traveling and busy, but hopes to get his answers to us shortly.)
Strategies (Score:5, Interesting)
by Oculus Habent
For Hardware Vendors:
What basic strategies are you employing to better penetrate the server/appliance market with Linux systems?
I chose to ask Lou Martelli, the PR guy for InfiniCon Systems this one first. He said, "High-performance, low-cost clusters on commodity servers, specifically that work with InfiniBand." Okay, fine. He then launched into a spiel about InfiniCon products that had words like "value" and "interoperability" in it but didn't answer my question. I asked again, and got another sales pitch. Okay. Fine. This company's strategy to better penetrate the appliance/server market with Linux is to use a lot of marketing buzzwords.
Tim Lee, president of Pogo Linux, did better. He pointed to the products on display in his company's booth, and they looked so good I wanted to take them all home with me on the spot. The company's "Why Choose Pogo Linux?" Web page, which Tim pointed me to, showed more of their strategy: Strong Linux commitment.
Tim also said, "We're right across the street from Microsoft. We sell a lot of stuff to Microsoft people. There's a lot of Linux running at Microsoft. A lot of Microsoft developers prefer to work with Linux."
Heh. If Tim and his crew are making money selling Linux systems to Microsoft, well and good. You start getting the geeks in a company interested in Linux, and as those geeks get promoted up the management ladder, more often than not Linux starts to infiltrate the company's server rooms. This often takes place without top management's knowledge. We'll want to keep in touch with Tim, and see how big the "server/appliance market" for Linux systems gets inside Microsoft.
Dear Redhat Software (Score:5, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward
What is your response to the vulterant claims that your Gnome/KDE setup is breaking QT apps and causing havoc for developers who make use of QT?
Red Hat's Jeremy Hogan said any KDE breakage was unintentional; that the big problem is that Red Hat's developers are almost all Gnome people, and Bero (Bernhard Rosenkraenzer), their only real KDE person, left the company last year.
(Bero has since started his own distribution, Ark Linux.)
Anyway, Hogan says, the breakage is only in Red Hat 8.0's default hybrid Gnome/KDE Bluecurve desktop, but "if you just run KDE, not Bluecurve, there are no problems."
And for the followup questioner who wanted to know what "vulterant" meant, it doesn't show up as a word at dictionary.com and a Google search with "vulterant" as a keyword returned zero results.
To Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)
Considering that this is called "LinuxWorld", what product will you release next for Linux?
See the answer to the next question. Might as well handle these two together...
To Microsoft (Score:5, Interesting)
by Oculus Habent
Do you plan on producing Open Source components to any of your products? This primarily refers to server components, such as HTTP, DNS, IMAP, etc. which could function externally to the base programs (Exchange, ISA, etc.) and offer simpler and more granular control over active services.
I approached a person in the Microsoft booth whose badge identified him as "John Kotas" and asked him what products Microsoft planned to introduce for Linux. "I don't know," he said. I turned to one of Kotas's coworkers, whose badge was not visible, and asked the same question and also the one about producing open source components for Microsoft server products. Again, "I don't know."
I tried again, both questions, with a Microsoft person whose badge identified him as Jeff Albertson. He said, "As far as I know Microsoft has no plans for Linux products, but I'm not a media spokesperson, hold on, I'll get you one."
I turned around, and there was smiling, affable Mark Martin, an account executive with Microsoft's PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, who said, "I can work on getting an official spokesperson for you," when I asked him about Microsoft's Linux product plans.
In response to the other question, he said, "Microsoft has made its bet on Windows, and at the present time continues to stay the course. We hear from customers that they are getting great value from the Windows platform.
"We realize it's a heterogeneous world, and that's one of the reasons we're at LinuxWorld, talking about Unix services, which are also applicable for Linux."
Then we talked about football. Mark thought the Raiders were going to win the Super Bowl. I figured the Bucs would take it. He offered to help me set up any interviews I needed with Microsoft people. I will take him up on this offer. (In the past, Waggener Edstrom and Microsoft have been very poor about returning calls and emails from Slashdot and NewsForge people. We will see how well this promise is kept. We haven't interviewed a Microsoft exec for a long time.)
What is the best giveaway item? (Score:5, Interesting)
In your experience as a convention exhibitor, what is the most effective giveaway item you've ever used to draw people to your booth long enough to make a pitch? What will people wait in line for, sit through demos for, fill out long questionaires for, let you swipe their card for, jostle others to get?
Conversely, what was the lamest giveaway item you were ever saddled with? Where you had to throw it at passersby, and even then they recoiled in dismay?
None of the exhibitors I talked to wanted to go on record with this one. A Red Hat person said (on condition of anonymity), "Demo CDs are always the best." This was echoed by other software vendors: A Linux crowd likes demo software more than anything else.
In the press room, long-time tech journalist -- and now owner of food site eGullet.com -- Jason Perlow said his favorite was a miniature Rubik's Cube on a key chain from Intel. He also liked an HP giveaway: "It's a stuffed, squeezable penguin that you only get if you sit through a presentation first. It's very nice to hold. It could double as a marital aid, too."
Ummm... okay, Jason.
Other journalists chimed in. A Favorite was the foam penguin marionettes several had spotted around the show, but no one remembered who was giving them out. The journo crowd also liked the Red Hat (red) baseball caps, which were being given out at set times, and you had to line up to get. The SuSE lizards were also prized.
On the down side, t-shirts were considered passe, at least by the tech journalists at LinuxWorld, most of whom go to enough trade shows that after a few years they have a lifetime supply of corporate t-shirts and don't need any more.
One well-known reporter said, "I've seen so many giveaways over the years that the only way to get my attention now would be to give me a server. No, make that a cluster."
To icculus.org (Score:5, Interesting)
To icculus.org (booth #9): What is it like to be a small organization at a big convention with people like HP, Microsoft, Red Hat, etc? Do people give you any credit for what you are doing?
The obvious answer: Icculus was the darling of LinuxWorld. Their booth drew more traffic per square foot than any other display.
A deeper answer, by email over the weekend from Icculus dude Ryan Gordon:
To the KDE team (Score:5, Funny)As to being a little organization:
There were really two types of people coming by the booth. One would say, "Wow, you can do this on Linux?!" and the other would say, "How much are you selling this for?"
This tells me, contrary to popular belief, that people don't always expect handouts when looking at open source software. However, they don't see something that impresses them as often as they should, and it's gotten to the point where a product with any amount of polish is assumed to be commercial...and anything free is buggy, ugly, slow, something. I remember feeling a sense of awe the first time I loaded Enlightenment many years ago. Maybe people were feeling that same awe while watching a round of PyDDR: the sense that the technology that's been staring you in the face all this time can be much, much cooler than you ever dreamed. You can't get that feeling of awe from a presentation on how Company X's servers are 20% more scalable than their competitors.
Video games are sexy. People need to be aware that GNU/Linux is more than just something to drive your webservers.
Oh, and representatives from all the "Big Companies" stopped by at various points in the show to play the video games. Including Microsoft. I'm not threatened at all. :)
As for credit:
A lot of people (myself included) feel that video games are a major factor in getting GNU/Linux to the masses. I can't count the number of people that have said, "Thanks for porting [GAME X]! It was the only reason I kept a Windows partition around!" I heard this a million times at the show from people that don't even consciously consider themselves gamers. I also had a lot of students ask me how to get into the video game industry. We're the answer there, too. Just look at our ports of Quake 2, Freespace 2, Alien vs. Predator, etc. Commercial games that have been open-sourced are a great way to see how the pros did it, and give you a means to tinker with the code (experience, experience, experience). The amateur games we host (Black Shades, Bitstream, OES, etc) are also an attempt to nurture future game developers that are Unix-friendly. The person writing Battle Pong today might be writing Unreal 3 tomorrow.
A lot of people see icculus.org as a kind of Loki reborn. I don't know about that, but overall, people seem to be happy with what we're doing, both as a project hosting site and as game developers.
Which will come first, Duke Nukem Forever or KDE 3.1?
I didn't manage to hook up with KDE. Sorry. I went to where their booth was supposed to be, but didn't spot them. Another journo said they weren't around.
Perhaps a KDE developer reading this can fill us in.
To Macrovision Corp. (Score:5, Interesting)
by josh crawley
To Macrovision Corp. (booth R10)
As I understand, your main stakes are in the encoding of ntsc and pal video signals as to make them uncopyable in receiving hardware (correct me if I'm incorrect).
As that stated, why are you involved with Linux? Are you contributing to the video section (V4L) of the Linux kernel or making user-land utilities? In general, what are your open business plans with Linux?
Nancy Robbins of Macrovision said, "We're not with the video group." She offered to put me in touch with the people at the company who are. (Perhaps we'll talk with them another time.)
The Macrovision people at LinuxWorld were from their Enterprise Software Division (formally Globetrotter Software). They were there to push Electronic License Management and Software Asset Management products.
Ms. Robbins described this as "electronic licensing for software" and said their new Java-enabled version worked with Linux. She explained the value of their "license management system" and talked of how one of its great "value-adds" was its ability to handle "multiple pricing models."
Apparently Macrovision believes there is now enough commercial software being written for Linux -- by companies that want to use encrpyted "unlock" keys to prevent unauthorized used of their precious intellectual property (sigh) -- to make it worth their while to be at LinuxWorld.
As a follow-up question, I asked how long they thought it would be until their licensing scheme was cracked. Neither Ms. Robbins nor her coworker, Pam Watkinson, had an answer for that one.
To Linux Software Vendors (Score:5, Interesting)
Is Mac OS X a big enough competitor (for want of a better word) to the Linux server/desktop market to warrant porting products over to either OS X or to Darwin?
This is with focus on the server side.
I asked Pete Goodall of Ximian this one. He said, "Not that it's not viable, it's just a lot of work. We have no plans [to port to OS X] at this time."
One of the software engineers at Cylant (whose CylantSecure 2.0 was named Best Security Solution at LinuxWorld) said, when asked about a Mac OS X or Darwin port, "That's not for us, I don't think. No." He ruminated for a second, then added, "That's because there aren't enough Mac servers to make it worthwhile."