My week at Linuxworld Expo in Toronto

Hello everyone,

It has been one heck of a week, but it has also been a lot of fun. As the title implies, the week of April 18th was the week for Linuxworld Expo in Toronto. Before I forget everything that happened in one massive blur, let me spend a few minutes recounting the events here.

Before I get into something resembling detail about the days, let give you my general impression. As with the last of these shows in Toronto (previously called Real World Linux), the atmosphere was friendly and all of those attending pretty easy going. There was a difference in attitude this year, however. I got the feeling that the show had grown up in some strange way. Even the TLUG booth (Toronto Linux User Group) felt professional. Linux, at the Toronto Linuxworld Expo, was all business now. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun anymore (it was), but there was a real feeling of “we’re here to do business” from everyone in attendance.

The turnout was great, not like a San Francisco or Boston LWE, but it was still great.

My biggest beef? No wireless access! Ack! Note to organizers, members of the press need Internet access from their notebooks. I appreciate that there was a free Internet e-mail garden but it’s not the same or as easy as sending out a report from the PC you brought with you.

Other than that, no great complaints.

Day 1

Aside from some final prepping in the morning, I had to take my son, Sebastian, for his doctor’s checkup (he’s doing great). All this to say that I wasn’t at the show this morning. Besides, the first day is strictly tutorials with the show floor opening up the next day.

In the afternoon, I did a three hour tutorial (sing it, “a three hour tutorial”) titled and based on my new book, Moving to the Linux Business Desktop. The presentation was very well received and the room was pretty packed. The fact that the three hours turned into four with people hanging around to ask questions afterwards, made me think there was some interest there [ insert appropriate smiley here ]. Luckily, David ‘cdlu’ Graham from NewsForge was on hand to document the event.

NewsForge article for day one of the show.

For those who could not attend (and for those who did), I created a [ahem] PowerPoint presentation (with OpenOffice, of course) as well as a Flash presentation to accompany the tutorial. Click yon link to read all about that.

Day 2

On day 2 (that would be Tuesday), I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by IBM and open to various media. It was titled “An Open Discussion on Open Source” and I was invited to be the wild card on the panel. Aside from myself, Chris Pratt, Manager eServer Strategic Initiatives for IBM Canada was there along with Scott Handy, Vice President of Worldwide Linux for IBM. Both offered their views of what was happening in the business world in regards to Linux adoption and what IBM’s part was in this.

Two IBM customers talked about their Linux implementations. They were Harbourfront Centre’s George Rodaro, Director of IT, and Pioneer Petroleum’s Dale Sinstead, Director of IT there. Each talked about what they had done in terms of using Linux in their business. Pioneer was particularly interesting to me since they are deploying Linux desktops to each of their locations.

As I mentioned, I was the wild card in all of this since I was the only person who was an independent voice — I did not get paid for this and I don’t work for IBM nor am I a customer. For my ten minutes with the media, I gave the assembled representatives a quick tour of what a Linux desktop looks like. It amazes me to this day that some people still think Linux is either a command line OS or that it can’t possibly look as slick as Windows. I intend to change that perception as much as possible.

IT Business had a story on this panel which you can read below.

Click here for yon IT Business article

In the afternoon, I spent some time in the University of Toronto computer bookstore booth signing copies of my books and chatting with readers. They had me booked for 30 minutes but I think I spent nearly 2 hours. Nobody complained or tried to chase me out and I had a great time meeting and talking to people.

I’ll tell you something I found quite interesting that day as people came to talk to me . . . there was a time when I would go to a show like this and people would recognize me strictly for the Cooking with Linux columns in Linux Journal. That day, I met people who knew me from my books and who didn’t know I wrote for Linux Journal. Heck, I met two people who recognized me as the “Linux guy from Call for Help”.

After the book signing and chatting, I spent the rest of the day visiting booths, checking out new product, and talking with people from Red Hat, Novell, Xandros, IBM, HP, Linux Journal, TLUG, and as many others as I could get to. In the evening, I went out for dinner with James Gray and Martin Seto from Linux Journal.

Speaking of TLUG, Colin McGregor from the TLUG stopped a chatted with me a couple of times. He wrote up his own recollections of Linuxworld for the Linux Journal Web site. Click here to read his account.

Day 3

Last day of the show. I started the day by chatting with a few other vendors on the floor. Just after noon, I ran into my good friend, John Fauquier, and the two of us snuck out for a drink at the Timothy’s coffee shop at the end of the convention centre. I mention this because this is becoming one of the things I really enjoy about this show. It’s a chance to talk about business and the Linux world, but it’s also a chance to socialize and spend some time with friends who just happen to be interested in this crazy Linux thing.

At around 2:30, Shaun Holt and Kevin Drinkall whose company, MerchantPagan fund the Scundog Linux User Group in South Yorkshire, England, managed to catch up with me a half hour before I had to begin my next talk. MerchantPagan has recently opened an office in Lindsay, Ontario.

I would have liked to spend some more time with them, partly because Shaun has tried on several occasions to hook up with me. The Scundog Linux user group sent me a great mousepad and T-Shirt a while back which Shaun left for me to pick up at the airport because we just couldn’t manage the same block of free time. This time, we managed Lattes and some 30 minutes before I had to run off for yet another tutorial, this one titled, “Linux Culture Shock”. Newsforge reporter, David Graham was there again to file this report.

NewsForge article for day three of the show.

I wound up spending an hour beyond my presentation talking to people who had stayed behind to ask more questions. Whenever possible, I’m quite willing to extend my time. The only thing that went wrong this time is that I was eating into presentation time for a Sun guy — my sincere apologies. After being kindly asked to leave the podium [ insert apppropriate smiley here ], we took the ongoing discussion outside into the halls.

I wrapped up my final day by taking a rapid fire cruise around the show floor to say goodbye to people and Linuxworld Expo Canada 2005.

Day 4

Okay, so this wasn’t officially a LinuxWorld Expo day. Okay, it wasn’t at all, but in a sense, I was still in presentation mode. That’s because I went up to the Tech TV studios to tape another episode of Call for Help with Leo Laporte, Amber Mac, and Andy Walker.

On that particular episode, I decided to cover video players under Linux with particular attendion to DVD players. Leo and I also chatted about decryption using libdvdcss and the laws as they exist in Canada and the U.S.

I’ll let everyone know when that episode airs as soon as I know.

— Marcel

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