To: None <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Christian Weisgerber <email@example.com>
Date: 07/07/2000 01:45:05
LinuxTag is the largest European Linux event. This year the
show--affectionally abbreviated "LT2K"--had moved from the cramped
confines of the University of Kaiserslautern to the trade show
center in Stuttgart, Germany, and had been extended to a total of
four days, June 29 to July 2. Some 100 commercial exhibitors and
25 Open Source projects occupied more than 6000 square meters of
show floor. What had started out as a few enthusiasts presenting
Linux and Open Source solutions has turned into a professional
trade show, featuring big names like IBM, Compaq, and Siemens.
Guests of honor were Richard M. Stallman, Illiad, and Alan Cox.
As in previous years, entrance to the show floor was free, as were
the talks on Friday to Sunday. Only the Business Track of
presentations on Thursday was subject to registration and a hefty
admission charge. Altogether, there were some 100 presentations
covering a wide range of Linux and Open Source related topics.
The show floor was open from 09:00 to 18:00 (16:00 on Sunday).
Total attendance was 17,000. The event proved a complete success
for all parties concerned. Jolt Germany, who had cleverly set up
camp in the passage from the main entrance to the first exhibition
hall, sold every single can of Jolt cola they had brought.
The BSD Talks
My talk on Saturday (Room 2, 14:00) went quite well. I gave a
basic introduction to BSD, explaining the differences or lack
thereof as compared to Linux, and generally tried my best to
answer in advance the primary questions Linux people always ask
when confronted with BSD. Competing against Torben Weis' KOffice
and Anselm Lingnau's Tcl/Tk presentations, I saw some 300 people
Subsequently (Room 3, 16:00), Thomas Graichen presented a performance
comparison covering Linux 2.2/2.4, Solaris 7/8, FreeBSD, NetBSD,
and OpenBSD. Thomas had done painstaking work to ensure that the
results were reproducible and to avoid a variety of typical pitfalls.
Still, the findings turned out to be highly questionable. For
example, nobody believed for a second that the *BSD's I/O throughput
as measured with the bonnie benchmark is really an order of magnitude
better than Linux'. Obviously, more work is needed. Thomas is
still to be lauded for what was very likely the largest investment
of time and effort of all speakers and his courage to present such
a flame-triggering topic.
The Social Event
Thursday night there was a party at the Frontsite booth. I'm afraid
I still don't know what this company offers, and some malicious
tongues suggested that even the employees don't seem to know, but
the free beer and cocktails were widely appreciated.
To facilitate socialization between exhibitors, speakers, and
organizers, Friday night featured the official Social Event. 600
tickets had been given out, and attendance seemed fairly complete.
An empty exhibition hall had been furnished with tables and a
catering service had set up an appropriately sized buffet. There
were ample amounts of cold and warm food, fruit, sweetmeats, etc.
The beer was top quality, and so was the wine I'm told. I met a
lot of people I knew from previous LinuxTags and similar events.
A young woman, who had garnered some moderate notice during the
day due to the amounts of clothing she wore or rather didn't wear,
turned out to be a singer who presented the organizers with a song.
I kind of failed to understand the connection between love swooning
and LinuxTag, but it was a decidedly nice idea by some exhibitors
who understood just what amount of work had gone into making the
whole event come true. Afterwards, Richard Stallman was persuaded
to perform his Free Software Song. "Share the software..." Well.
The rendition was somewhat better than the audio file floating
around on the net. Then the woman tried her voice again at a Mariah
Carey tune. There was tongue-in-cheek disagreement over who sang
worse, Stallman or the girl, but general consent that she had the
far better looks to her favor.
Saturday night saw another booth party, but we decided to skip that
one in favor of getting someting to eat in town.
The BSD Booth
Food and sleep are for wimps. If you ever had to pull booth duty,
you will probably know what I mean.
We arrived on Wednesday to set up the BSD booth, which was a three
by three-meter cubicle in the Open Source Pavilion. There were
several FreeBSD machines on display, including an SMP one and an
Alpha, a variety of boxes of moderate age showcasing NetBSD, a
MicroVAX II running 4.3BSD Tahoe, and a Sun and a couple of notebooks
under OpenBSD. Norbert Meissner had fashioned stickers from several
popular BSD logos. Setting up went smoothly, contrary to some
commercial exhibitors who had been working till three in the morning
as we learned the next day.
On Thursday, Wim Vandeputte arrived from Belgium with a trunkload
of OpenBSD paraphernalia: shirts, the first 2.7 CDs available in
Europe, posters, caps, and even daemon's forks. This greatly
improved the looks of the booth and visitor attraction. Wim turned
out to be a superior salesman as well. I understand he also managed
to talk some of the present manufacturers into donating hardware
to the OpenBSD project for driver development. We'll see what
comes out of this. The booth also sold 150 CDs burned on the spot.
These were mostly FreeBSD 4.0 for i386, but also a few for alpha
and some NetBSD 1.4.2 ones.
Thursday started out somewhat weakly as expected, but on the
subsequent days there was plenty of visitor interest. All those
BSD shirts served to draw attention. I'm told that traffic at the
booth also increased after my talk. I think we were quite successful
in spreading the BSD message. In fact, our booth was "booked" for
a (much smaller) Linux event later this year in Feldkirch, Austria.
Relations with the people from the other (mostly Linux) Open Source
booths were great. There was a general sense of comradeship and
not a trace of hostility in either direction. It also bears pointing
out that the BSD booth smoothly united people from all three BSD
projects without rivalry.
Some time after his wife had already picked up a FreeBSD CD, Alan
Cox, Linux kernel hacker incarnate, dropped by at the booth and we
had a brief chat. Surprise, Alan already has a FreeBSD box for
comparison purposes. Apparently there are some secret communications
between Alan and FreeBSD's Matt Dillon with regard to VM development,
and Alan suggested that the FreeBSD and Linux VM handling will
converge over the next two or three years.
After five days, the dominating feelings were exhaustion and a
general sentiment of success. Many exhibitors already promised to
return for LinuxTag 2001 and the venue will continue to provide
sufficient space for a few years to come. Clearly, BSD should
again be present, too.
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber firstname.lastname@example.org