LWE 2003 -- Report

Linux World Conference and Expo, Frankfurt, Germany -- Report

Like last year, we were offered a booth in the .Org-Pavilion on the Linux World Conference and Expo in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, we got a smaller booth. But luckily Ralf Nolden, who organised the KDE-Booth, and Michael Meskes (from PostgreSQL and Debian) had the idea to remove the walls between our booths, so we should have an open, friendly and inviting booths.

And they were right! This year we had a very nice booth, and since the KDE project didn't use all of their space, we had some kind of "hacking area" or "lounge" as well. Well, to others it might have looked like we assimilated half of the KDE booth. ;)

Noèl Köthe brought some of the CDs Sven Hoexter mastered for LinuxTag, together with Flyers and pins. We had around 300 (pressed) CDs, and on the first day, we just had them laying around for the visitors. We gave them away for free, until I saw one man, grabbing nearly all discs, laying around on a table. I was pretty sure, that he was just one of those "Oh? It's free? I like to have as much as possible, I need something to fill my dustbin!"-grabber. So we decided, that we would only give away our discs and pins for a small donation, and printed some signs at the Oki booth. (BTW: Although it was a GNU/Linux exhibition, they used Windows to print, so I left them a Knoppix CD.)

Of course, requesting a small donation was mainly a semi-psychological barrier for those grabbers. If visitors talked a little bit and we thought, that they are interested and won't throw them away, we gave them CDs for free. Or at least we didn't demand a donation. However, one can truly say, that most visitors taking a CD enforced us to take their donation. And our visitors were quite freehanded! We received 50 or even 100 Euro from single persons!

Jörg Jaspert brought really good swirl- and Debian-stickers. Not such cheap, printed ones, but professional ones, which are cut out of a plastic foil and should hang on your notebook some years. They sold very well, covering his expenses and giving us a good part of the donations. Last, not least: Andreas 'amu' Müller brought some nice T-Shirts with an embroidered swirl, not a printed one.

Most visitors of the LinuxWorldExpo wore suites and ties, which resulted in a slightly different atmosphere, than on most other events I visited. However, on Tuesday IBM paid the train and entry for students on nearly all German universities. None of them arrived with a tie, so the atmosphere was better on Tuesday. Gladly many of those students visited our booth. Of course is it nice to talk to business people, who accept our work, but I prefer to talk to students, who love our work. :)

On Tuesday evening the social event took place. Last year AMD sponsored it, chartered our city halls basement, engaged a live band and a very good catering service. Last year it was a nice social event, which ended after midnight.

This year, however, AMD wasn't even an exhibitor, and the organisers had problems finding another sponsor for the social event. Therefore the social event was in the hall, where the keynotes where held. Only small snacks were served, and the event had to end before 10 pm.

Of course, you don't go to a social event, only to eat, but to talk to other people or projects. However, since no interesting people were around and since we got quite hungry after being on duty for 10 hours, we left shortly after we entered, and went to an American-styled burger-diner-restaurant-whatever. You could say, that we had some kind of .Org-social event there, since people from PostgreSQL, KDE, Debian, OpenOffice.org, OpenGroupware.org met there and some more arrived later. Although we later left for another restaurant with more deserts, the atmosphere was quite nice, and many of those important inter-projectual stuff was discussed.

But back to our visitors: I'd like to mention two more of them. One was very interested in a 'Java solution for Debian'. Since I never used Java, I pointed him to Chris Halls, who is member of Debian's Openoffice.org team. They had some problems with OOo build-dependency on Java, which was the reason, why OOo didn't move to main before 1.1-4 or so. Unfortunately, even he couldn't satisfy this Debian fan. Sorry, I don't know the exact problem, but he (the visitor, not Chris) advertised 5000 Euro for a 'satisfying Java solution under Debian' and left his businesscard (which is made of plastic, not paper). If you are interested (and know more about Java than me) drop me a mail, and I'll tell you contact information.

Another interesting visitor asked for a company, who could provide support for Debian. They were using Debian in some parts of their company, and are quite sufficient. Now they would like to use it on 'much other computers'. We introduced him to the Credativ people on the PostgreSQL booth, but that didn't work, since he came from Siemens and defined 'much' as more than 10,000. He promised to recommend Credativ and Debian to the Department for the smaller projects, though. Sigh.

This is one example, which shows how much progress Debian has made in the last year. If you like you can say, that the people in the 'real world out there' start to accept us. Another example was a better possibility to organise stuff for Debian. Last year it was nearly impossible to get loaned hardware (especially a beamer) for the Debian booth. This year I had received many hardware offers - including one from HP, who offered computers and a Notebook (which was gratefully accepted). It was no problem to get the same beamer as last year from Network Appliance, and we had many offers for sleeping places from the LUG Frankfurt (and even some train tickets). On some day we also had a visitor at the booth who came from a CD press work, who offered us special prices, if we press our next CDs.

Last not least, I like to mention the part Daniel 'codebreaker' Priem played in this game. See, I just filled some forms and used my private address for it, became therefore contact person for some people outside, and got many thanks for doing this small job (which could have been done by any other person, capable of reading and writing). But he saw the hardware problems we had last year, and bought four or five (if I hadn't told you about the Siemens guy, I would say 'much') computers, switches, TFTs and all those stuff, tested them carefully, and brought them to Frankfurt. And then apologised many times, that the beamer, he ordered for us, didn't arrive in time.

Daniel 'codebreaker' Priem offers this hardware for other exhibitions and conferences inside Germany, too. If you need something, contact him.

BTW: He is a really modest man - he suggested the following passage for this review (and I promised to use it): "Some hardware have been sponsored by Daniel Priem, if somebody inside Germany needs the Hardware for events like a 'Messe' feel free to contact him".

I took some pictures, which you can find in my gallery. Peter Eisentraut from PostgreSQL took some pictures, too.

Alexander Schmehl