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Linux Expo '99 is now history. Congratulations are due to all involved for running a high-quality show. Attendees at the Expo seemed to be generally happy with what they found. Some of the technical sessions were truly excellent. A worthwhile experience.

Please see our Linux Expo page for our coverage of events at the conference, and pointers to coverage from others as well. Included are stories on network traffic control, the LinuxCare "Simply Supported" poster, keynotes, competing certification agencies, Zenguin, the homeless Pacific HiTech models, and more...

All is not perfect with Linux Expo, however. It is clear that the event is suffering somewhat from the competition from the LinuxWorld Expo. In particular, there was a significant amount of grumbling among the vendors on the exhibit floor. Many of them did not feel that they were getting the sort of interest that they had hoped for - especially from people who might actually end up buying things. This feeling contrasts strongly with that at LinuxWorld, where the vendors were ecstatic. Unhappy vendors is a dark omen for Linux Expo; it suggests that many of them might not be back next year.

Nothing is written in stone, but it seems unlikely that Linux Expo will be able to recapture its former position as the primary trade show for Linux. LinuxWorld has the funding, publicity and momentum at this point. Over the next year, LinuxWorld will bracket Linux Expo with two separate events, one on each coast. In the future, LinuxWorld will likely be the place where people go to see the glitz, make deals, and shake hands.

So where does that leave Linux Expo? The organizers of Linux Expo may want to consider adjusting their focus to take better advantage of their strengths:

  • Linux Expo draws a higher level of technical content. Many of the talks were leading-edge and very good. The Extreme Linux events were worth the price of admission on their own.

  • Linux Expo is a more community-oriented event. Consider the birds of a feather (BOF) sessions at LinuxWorld: they are few in number, all at one time, tightly controlled, and already set in stone for August. LinuxWorld seems explicitly designed to minimize the amount of unstructured interaction between participants - it is a highly scripted event. Linux Expo, instead, encourages informal gatherings and interactions; as such, it is a far better forum for organizing communities.
Some of us also appreciated the lack of loud music, lasers, fog generators, etc. at Linux Expo.

This all suggests that Linux Expo should aim at being the premier technical and community event for Linux. More technical content is called for - including perhaps a stronger set of tutorials and the addition of workshop sessions. Build on the success of the Extreme Linux track with more specialized, leading-edge tracks in the future, preferably without the registration surcharge. Finding a way to bring in development projects - which can not generally afford booth space - would be a great move. LinuxWorld may be the place you go to shake hands, make deals, and hear product pitches. Linux Expo can be where you go to find out what is really going on, participate in the process, and get your questions answered.

Responding to Mindcraft. Dan Kegel wrote in to report on performance improvements that have been in response to problems demonstrated in the Mindcraft report. "So far, three serious kernel performance problems that caused Apache to do poorly on Linux have been identified and partially resolved. Most recently, an SMP scaling bottleneck was found, and a three-line patch was posted that quadrupled performance on one test (erasing the SMP penalty)." More information is available.

What we are seeing here, of course, is that the yelling is done, for now, and the Linux community has gotten serious about fixing the problems that do exist.

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May 27, 1999


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