posted by Nicholas Blachford on Fri 1st Aug 2003 18:14 UTC
IconLinuxTag, Europe's largest Linux show was held from the 10th to the 13th of July 2003 in Karlsruhe Kongresszentrum, Germany. Myself and a colleague (Debian developer Sven Luther) were there for 3 of those days. The organisers took to the free software philosophy with some enthusiasm, the entrance is free but the downloadable ticket is supplied with LaTex source code! Then again this is the same organisation which, knowing German law didn't allow you to threaten legal action without proof told SCO to put up or shut up, SCO promptly shut up.

LinuxTag is a pretty big show but nothing compared to really big trade shows like IBC or CES. But, none the less it was a pretty good size with something in the region of 150 exhibitors and close to 20,000 visitors.

The Exhibition
Once you'd navigated your way around the bag givers and made it to the hall, the exhibition was a strange mixture of community and business, I think the "where .com meets .org" slogan was quite fitting. There were some big impressive stands from companies like HP, SAP and SuSE, on the other hand there were stands which seemed to consist of nothing more than a bunch of geeks sitting around hacking.

All the big names in the Linux scene were there: Red Hat, Suse, Debian, Gentoo as well as a few smaller distros I don't know such as Rock Linux and Ark Linux.

However other industry players were also there such as IBM, Intel, AMD, Quantum, Segate. Toshiba, Fujitsu/Seimens, Apple, HP and SAP.

Samsung in was showing Contact, their so called "Exchange killer", most Exchange replacements are missing one or other features whereas this has them all but costs less. It's interesting now there is momentum against Microsoft seeing big companies sniffing blood and ganging up against them, especially given Samsung is one of the few companies still using Microsoft's smart phone platform.

AMD were showing Opteron processors in various guises mainly in racks of one sort or another but had a small PC running what appeared to be a simulation of radioactive decay. This machine had a clear side panel and you could see the giant green cooler these CPUs have.

Sun had a stand showing off their wares and beside it a section set up for internet access so you could get and send your email (turned out quite useful). What I'd like to know is who's idea it was to move the backspace key down one on their keyboards, grrr...

HP had a pretty big stand, one one side they were showing their hardware as a normal trade show stand but on the other side was a hacking competition. Some instructions were given on a board and a group of hackers would sit around among the plants doing the task set.

Apple had a stand complete with a few systems, a rack of X-Serves, and their gorgeous LCD screens. Apparently the only G5 in Europe put in an appearance on the Thursday but of course I wasn't there that day to have a look at it :-/

Distros
Many of the big Linux Distros were present: SuSE had an impressive along stand which was staffed by themselves and some business partners. This stand in particular seemed to be getting a lot of attention from business people. SuSE is a German company targeting businesses so you'd expect it to have a good showing.

Red Hat
Another company targeting business is RedHat who had a smaller stand staffed by people wearing (oddly enough) red hats. They didn't seem to attract quite the crowd of SuSE or Debian (at least when I was there) but there were always people on the stand.

The Debian stand seemed to be one of the most popular stands constantly getting a crowd of people many of whom picked up the debian CDs they were giving away, they also seemed to be doing a pretty good trade in T-shirts. At the back of the stand they ran an ascii art animation via a beamer which got some very bewildered looks at times. Also on the Debian stand was a version of Debian running on the Hurd Kernel and our Pegasos.

Just across from the Debian stand was the small Ark Linux stand. This distro is still in development and concentrates itself on ease of use. On the same stand they had some fan-less cases complete with 2.6GHz Pentium 4s. I didn't think that was possible but with some clever engineering and 9Kgs of Aluminium you had a quiet but rather hot case.

One of the "bunch of geeks sitting around hacking" stands was Gentoo who had a stand with lots of people hacking away. They got quite a crowd watching as well when they showed the hilarious Matrix-XP movie.

Only a few stands away was Rock Linux which is a distro I'd never heard of, It's a "meta" distro which isn't really a distro but a distro compilation kit. I guess this could be pretty useful if you want to deploy a distro across a number of machines with only the components you want.

Table of contents
  1. "LinuxTag Show Report, Page I"
  2. "LinuxTag Show Report, Page II"
  3. "LinuxTag Show Report, Page III"
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