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Linux Desktop Summit 2004 Review
"We're not leaving."
William Nett

I had the experience this week of attending the Linux Desktop Summit hosted by Michael Robertson's Linspire, Lindows, or whatever you want to call it these days. Irregardless of what you call it, it's Linux, and the general consensus from vendors and attendees was, "We're here to stay."

I have to say that this was an interesting convention. Keeping in line with the Linux community, there was more of a sense of community rather than the typical "Choose our product" ambiance, With a few exceptions of course.

My first stop was Epson's free printer raffle... Interesting to see that they cared about Linux and driver support.

Next was LPI (Linux Professional Institute). There they were offering $25.00 exams for certification, which was one helluva deal considering Red Hat's pricing model. Which prompted me over to the Red Hat booth with arms raised...

I asked Red Hat what the hell happened to them with their multimedia support? They nervously responded that they were respecting IP rights of others while maintaining their commitment to putting out a good product. This is an oxymoron. Don't get me wrong Red Hat makes an excellent server,
but I choose the path of least resistance. If you were a server admin, wouldn't you want your desktop computer to be the same with all your desired functionality and minimal hassle? I mean for familiarity reasons at the very least. "Were going to make a press release soon," was their response. Okay Red Hat, it may only be the seventh inning, but SuSE has one hell of a batter, which was my next booth.

When I approached Novell (aka SuSE) I asked a one word question... SCO? Their Rep kindly smiled and asked, "Who? Never heard of them." "But what about their lawsuit?" I asked. "We're not afraid of them, we've reserved funds to indemnify their potential targets that are our customers, we've sent letters to SCO... no response, and our reserve hasn't spent a cent," said Novell. If one could imagine an ultimate stone-like stance, Novell had it. They weren't budging, indicated no intent to budge, and even invited SCO... funny, Caldera didn't have a booth? I grabbed my free t-shirt, swag, and moved on.

Further on down my wanderings, I bumped into GarageGames.com. They have a kick-ass commercial game which looks a lot like Mech Warrior, and it runs nicely and natively under Linux. They also demo'd the classic Doom game which runs under Linspire's Click-And-Run installation. VERY Nice... but who's playing the DVD Finding NEMO on Lindows? and how did they do it?

I sought out the first Lindows geek with long hair and glasses and asked him... how did you do it? "I'm running Xine," I said. "I have the DVD libs... but DVDs are really sketchy, and don't play well!" The geek responded by informing me to turn off DMA on my DVD drive. "Just let it stream," He said. I tried it and he was right. One step closer to freedom. 

So on to the transition dilemma... how do I get my users to convert? "Over here!" said NeTraverse. Their plan is simple. Give your Windows users applications which run on both Linux and Windows, teach them how to use them and when they are comfortable, replace the Operating System with Linux. I would have liked to see CodeWeavers helped out on this, but baby steps right? All in all NeTraverse has an ingenious idea, and their Computer Based Training CDs provide an excellent angle.

I spoke to a few other companies, shared some thoughts, but walked away with a confident feeling... "Linux is not going away, it's here to stay."

Good job Michael... Linspire gets my thumbs up.

William M. Nett


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