I returned home from the sunny delights of San Francisco on Friday. It was an eleven-hour flight, and I was crushed into steerage class on an aging Boeing 777. After the guy in front put his seat into the recline position, my head was about 6 inches away from the top of his head. Nice if you’re studying alopecia, not so great if you want to open your laptop. I would have preferred to watch Iron Man six times over. But I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I love travelling and the chance to see new places. SF, in particular, was well worth the trip - even if the same can’t be said of the Linux World event itself.
As it was my first visit to Linux World, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. It was quiet, corporate and mostly uninspiring. Previously, the event spilled into the gigantic hall on the other side of the street. This year, the main exhibition hall wasn’t even full. Attendance was down from 10,000 to around 7,500, apparently, and there certainly wasn’t much buzz. The only exception was Canonical’s stand, which was busy from Tuesday morning to closing on Thursday afternoon. Canonical put on a variety of presentations, starting every hour or so, and they seemed to attract a lot of attention. Canonical was also pushing its new alliance with Alfresco CMS and IBM Symphony, both of which can now be installed through Synaptic. There was also talk of an impending announcement within the next couple of months, tying Ubuntu NBR to a major Netbook manufacturer.
Other important vendors were conspicuous by their absence. There was no major presence from Novell, Red Hat, IBM or Nokia, for example. This left the event feeling a little malnourished. But that didn’t stop me speaking to over 40 exhibitors. There were many people pushing mail servers, exchange replacements and online collaboration tools (OBM, Kerio, Unison) and almost as many pushing server hardware and management systems (OpenGear, Cluster Resources, Inc.), and we’re bound to cover more of these subjects in the future. Linpus, creator of the tailored Aspire One operating system and single click desktop interface, is rapidly expanding its coverage to many more Asian Netbook devices. Access, the company behind the NetFront web browser, now provides embedded Linux support, an open source API, and new web widgets interface for Dashboard-like functionality on your mobile phone. And there were many more glossy corporate announcements. Some people are definitely making good money from Linux. Which is a good thing. But not as good as the beer ;)