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Report on Linuxtag '99

[An die deutschen Leser: Ich war zu faul meinen Bericht in Deutsch und
Englisch zu schreiben, deshalb gibt's ihn nur in (schlechtem) Englisch]

[Note: this report is my own impression and not objective in any way]

Last weekend the Linuxtag was held for the fifth time at the
university of Kaiserslautern (the term Linuxtag is actually incorrect
it's more like Linuxwochenende ;-) 
The whole event is organized by a volunteer Unix group from the

The flyer boosted the event as the 'biggest Linux expo in
Germany'. When we arrived the banner said 'biggest Linux expo in
Europe' so I was really looking forward. Linuxtag consisted of two
tracks with presentations from free software groups, a track with
company presentations and an exhibition area. Most of the
presentations were introductions to specific Linux areas
(Installation, Firewall, CVS, Beowolf, KDE, ...). No kernel level or
other highly technical stuff. 

The Debian crowd which staffed the booth consisted of around 20 people
(both developers and users). We were provided with free booth space,
some floor space in a seminar room for cheap accomodation and a free
social event dinner for our whole staff (kudos to the organization
team ;-)

We had a range of systems running Linux at our booth (i386, alpha,
m68k, powerpc, sparc and sparc64) which generated some interest ('isn't
this one of those old and obsolete Amigas? Woa, it runs gimp ?')
Additionally Marcus Brinkmann booted GNU/Hurd sometimes if there was
enough interest. Most of the time he demonstrated Linux on his
computer because 'people just love that colourful and fancy graphical
stuff' (quote from Marcus; GNU/Hurd has no working Xserver yet). Well
the times are changing if you run Linux to show off some fancy
graphical stuff ;-)

Frank Neumann got the prize for the coolest app which ran on his
Amiga. We should properly call it a geek gadget: it looks cool,
doesn't provide any useful information (though it seems to resemble a
weird system monitor) and is fancy graphical stuff ;-)
He promised to upload it as a Debian package soonish.

Additionally we had a webcam, a box where the bb demo was running all
the time, a world map with developer locations, some flyers and
T-Shirts with the new Debian logo.

In the first couple of hours of the exhibition on Saturday our booth
was mainly filled with our Debian staff which made it kind of
difficult for visitors to enter due to space constraints ;-)

What else ?
Joey Schulze gave a presentation on the Debian/GNU
Project (which was repeated due to popular demand). Marcus held a
Debian/GNU Hurd BoF, Roman Hodek held a buildd (you know the cool
autobuilder from the debian-changes-devel list by now I guess) BoF
(both generated a lot of interest within the Debian staff).

The KDE project had a booth and presented their KOffice project which
impressed the visitors (the presentation was repeated two times). The
Gnome Project had no representation which implies that there's still
some truth to the KDE/Europe vs. Gnome/US theme.

All the (nowadays) usual companies showed up: RedHat, SuSe, Delix, HP,
Compaq, Sun, ... (actually IBM was missing despite their recent
commitment and Sun was underrepresented with one Ultra60 with a RedHat
6.0 installation which was not quite up to speed)

XFree86 had a multi head presentation with a 3.9beta snapshot at their
table and a staff member which tried to argue about the beauty of the
twm window manager: 'Two pixels to the left and to the right of a
window for the frame. I don't want the window manager to waste any
more of my desktop space.' I guess he hates enlightenment ;-)

Pingus, a cute-looking GPLed lemmings clone (the lemmings substituted
with pinguins), had its own corner (http://pingus.home.pages.de). If I
would have been able to hack the clanlib source to compile on my Ultra
(big endian issues) I would have already uploaded a package of
Pingus. Expect an ITP as soon as I sorted out the clanlib issues.

All in all I think that Linuxtag went really well for Debian. It
wasn't that big an event, at least in my opinion, but the Debian booth
had a lot of visitors with questions ranging from 'What's different
about Debian compared to SuSe ?' to 'Where's your guru for powerpc,
Hurd, ... ?'. The Debian BoFs and the internal discussions added to
the impression that there is a lot of dynamics in the Debian project. 

Thanks to the orga team for providing the whole Debian crowd with a
lot of free stuff; thanks to the Debian crowd for spending their free
time to staff the booth; thanks to Wichert for joining us during

Probably I forgot to tell you some stuff but it's 3.15 am and I am
getting tired ;-)

Corrections and followups welcome.  


Christian Meder, email: meder@isr.uni-stuttgart.de

What's the railroad to me ?
I never go to see
Where it ends.
It fills a few hollows,
And makes banks for the swallows, 
It sets the sand a-blowing,
And the blackberries a-growing.
                      (Henry David Thoreau)

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