UniForum '97 -
The View from the LINUX Community

By Mark Bolzern, President, Work Group Solutions

Reprinted from "WGS News", April 3, 1997 issue


UniForum Attendance overall was down but the Registered & Paid Tutorial Attendance as high as it has ever been. The show attendance being down was not surprising since the dates coincided with CeBIT in Europe, stealing the international audience, and Internet World in Los Angeles, stealing the people that are not aware of the connection between Unix, UniForum and the Internet. I think it is very important for the UniForum show to make a marketing issue out of the fact that the technology shown here is where the Internet came from in the first place, so that if people wish to understand the Internet, UniForum is the best show to attend. Perhaps even use "Internet" as part of the name.

The absent traffic could have come to see us. But despite this, it turned out to be quite a decent show, with people coming at us at just the right rate. The Linux Pavilion did what it was supposed to do, and drew people through the other booths and show areas. They came to us in droves at times, and we were usually the busiest area on the UniForum Show Floor. Once again, although not as dominant as as at Usenix (Newsletter #4 http://www.LinuxMall.com/announce.html) Linux was the undisputed star of the show. Linux was seen as "Where it is at". This is the goal of Linux International (http://www.LI.org) and also of the LinuxMall (http://www.LinuxMall.com) in setting up the Linux Pavilion: to make the industry see Linux for what it really is.

The Linux related companies that had booths were: Aspen Systems & Digital, InfoMagic, Linux Hardware Solutions, Linux International, Linux Journal (SSC) Linux Mall (WGS), Red Hat and SSC.

People from those companies along with some helpers from Yggdrasil staffed the LI booth, since neither I nor anyone else had time to organize a volunteer effort this time. Linux Related companies, VA Research, Walnut Creek, and O'Reilly were at UniForum, but chose not to be a part of the Linux Pavilion.

UniForum '97 Show Results, Linux = Windows NT X 3+
The result? Analysts from DataPro, IDC, and several magazines made statements like "Wow, we had no idea" and then proceeded to decide that they needed not just mentions of Linux, but full reports and sections on it in their studies. An analyst from IDC later stated to me that they are now including Linux Server and Linux Client as separate items on their surveys. I was also later told that initial response would tend to support the 6 Million Linux installations figure reported in Newsletter #4. If true, it means Linux already has more than 3 times the installed user base that Windows NT has. This includes a large and extremely important group, the college students who will be our next generation of IS managers.

Linus Torvalds Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
Linus received the UniForum "Lifetime Achievement Award" presented by Doug Michels, co-founder of SCO. Doug said that many people expected him to turn down the opportunity to present the award, or to say little when he did. He said that these people had him all wrong, that this was a special opportunity. Doug said he has been amazed at the success that Linux has had. Linux has rekindled the spirit and energy that first got him excited about Unix 20 years ago. The work of Linus and the greater Linux community has brought back a source base for real experimentation and innovation, something the computer industry badly needs again. Doug is proud of the selfless and true commitment that Linus and the Linux community have towards improvement of computing. Linus has brought the fun back in an otherwise static industry. He said that he thinks Linux is just what the world needs now.

Linus accepted the award by saying it belonged as much to the hundreds of other people that had contributed to Linux as it did to him. He has the honor of being the spider at the center of the worldwide net that is creating Linux. Linus also said that some of the Linux community were in the audience, and he thanked everyone involved for the opportunity to accept this award on their behalf.

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