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Re: What makes a debconf?

On Sat, May 24, 2003 at 01:41:56AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> True enough, but since USENIX took over Atlanta Linux Showcase, ran it
> for one year, and then shot it in the back of a head like a drug kingpin
> assassinating an unwanted lieutenant, Debian developers in the U.S.,
> particularly the southeast, have been missing a bit of an opportunity for
> a gathering.
> I really miss ALS.

It's a bit more complicated than that.  Jon 'Maddog' Hall strongly
encouraged the folks who ran ALS to team up with Usenix, and to try
moving the show around to different parts of the country, with the 'A'
in ALS changed from "Atlanta" to "Annual".  The first such
collaboration happened in Atlanta, and the second happened in Oakland,
California, in 2001.  

Unfortunately, at some level, ALS's business model was fundamentally
flawed.  It relied on the trade show floor subsidizing everything
else.  This worked fine during the dot.com boom, when money flowed
like water, but by 2001, VA Linux had dumped its hardware business and
switched to a propietary software model, Linuxcare had gone belly up,
Turbolinux was pretty much gone, etc.  So I remember going to the
show, and noting that one (the only?) "Platinum" trade show sponsor
--- Redhat --- thought the show so unimportant that even though they
had paid $$$ to be a Platinum sponsor, their booth consisted of an
unadorned table two boxes of Red Hat and Red Hat Advanced Server, with
no one even bothering to staff the booth.

To make matters worse, the 2001 ALS happened two months after 9/11,
which meant a lot of people cancelled travel, and so Usenix wasn't
able to make the hotel room block guarantees.  The bottom line was
that Usenix lost half a million dollars on that show.

After that point, a post-mortem was done on the show, and it was
pretty much agreed that the ALS business model was pretty not going to
work going forward, and that at best, the only thing which made sense
was that it go back to its roots as a small regional show.  Most
vendors don't have much interest in going to a Linux-specific trade
show, these days.  The last one to exist is Linux World Conference and
Expo in NYC and San Francisco, and it's not too clear they will
continue to exist 2-3 years from now.  Most of the exhibitors at LWCE
are companies that also go to Comdex and other big trade shows anyway,
and the customers they want to sell aren't necessarily going to be at
a Linux-specific trade show.

However, the ALS organizers were pretty tired and burned out, and so
they decided not to do another show in 2002.  It certainly would be
great for there to be more regional Linux shows, although my guess is
that they will have to be much smaller affairs than ALS has been in
the past.  If people in the southwest are interested in running one, I
suspect the ALS "old-timers" would be ecstatic, and would be happy to
dispense words of wisdom....

						- Ted

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