Originally Published: Saturday, 22 January 2000 Author: Jeff Alami
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Comdex/Canada West 2000

Don't get me wrong; Comdex/Canada West is a very Microsoft-centric event. Vancouver's geographical location makes it possible for the marketing drones at Microsoft HQ to load up their trucks and drive about 2 hours to the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. In fact, when Microsoft does its periodic "we'll move to Canada if you don't let us hire more foreigners" speech to the US government, Vancouver is cited as a possible location for their headquarters. I shudder at the thought. Anyway, this report isn't about Microsoft, it's about Linux and its presence at the latest event of the Comdex series....

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Don't get me wrong; Comdex/Canada West is a very Microsoft-centric event. Vancouver's geographical location makes it possible for the marketing drones at Microsoft HQ to load up their trucks and drive about 2 hours to the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. In fact, when Microsoft does its periodic "we'll move to Canada if you don't let us hire more foreigners" speech to the US government, Vancouver is cited as a possible location for their headquarters. I shudder at the thought. Anyway, this report isn't about Microsoft, it's about Linux and its presence at the latest event of the Comdex series.

At the 1999 event, the Vancouver Linux User Group (VanLUG) was given a single 10 x 20 booth. It was swamped with people wanting to know more about Linux. The adjacent aisles were impassable. LUG members were constantly busy answering questions. The giveaway CD's ran out within the first 2 hours of the 3-day event.

Needless to say that the Comdex organizers approached VanLUG and gave them more space for the next year. The Linux Showcase at Comdex/Canada West 2000 included several booths, a presentation area, and a VanLUG information booth. It was a runaway success.

How much of a success? VanLUG signed up its 1000th member on Thursday. Easily the biggest LUG in Canada, VanLUG rivals the size of the world's largest LUGs. I am excited to see the overflowing aisles at the next VanLUG meeting, which by the way will be on Monday, January 24, at 7:30pm in the Telus Theatre at the BCIT campus.

A good mix of Linux companies, local and abroad, were present at the Linux showcase. StarNet Communications, from Sunnyvale, CA, was demonstrating its X-Win32 product. X-Win32 is an X server for Windows, which allows Windows desktops to access applications on a Linux server through the X Window System protocol. The most interesting part about StarNet was their name, though. A local company, also named "StarNet," specializes in Web sites with gambling and, well, "questionable" content. This local StarNet recently made the news when their offices were raided by the police. Needless to say that the Sunnyvale StarNet people were asked on several occasions about their connection with the local StarNet.

All the way from Arizona, Enhanced Software Technologies (EST) came to Comdex to demonstrate their popular BRU backup software for Linux. EST has been around a long time; they've been selling backup software since 1985, and Linux software since 1994. Because of the quality of the product, and EST's early entry into the Linux market, BRU is the #1 backup software product for Linux, winning several awards from Linux Journal and LinuxWorld. They are currently working on BRU Professional, a new version of the backup software which will simplify network backups, among other things. BRU Professional is expected to be released before the summer.

Atipa Linux Solutions was at the event, showing off a "penguin-like" case that has to be seen to be believed. Atipa was also demonstrating the hardware-accelerated OpenGL X server by Xi Graphics. Vancouver's own Stormix Technologies was promoting Storm Linux 2000, their easy to install, easy to upgrade Linux distribution based on the work of the Debian project. Not surprisingly, Corel had the largest booth of them all, just across from the Microsoft behemoth. Corel's Linux distribution and its productivity applications, all of which are either available for Linux are being ported to Linux, were presented.

On Thursday night, the Vancouver branch of the Computer Information Processing Society (CIPS) put on a gala dinner and keynote speech. The keynote speaker? None other than Dr. Larry Augustin, Founder and CEO of VA Linux Systems. Augustin's keynote to the CIPS members covered Linux and Open Source topics, centering on the fact that "if you're not in Open Source now, you need to be." He discussed Linux as the leading OS for Internet servers, and the history and growth of VA Linux Systems as a business within the Open Source community. He also introduced SourceForge and how the site is so integral to VA's plans. I was surprised to find out how many people are using SourceForge already; over 1200 projects totaling well over 7000 developers make SourceForge the home for Open Source development!

Larry Augustin provided a convincing argument for Open Source for the non-geeks in the house. Moreover, his appearance gave many Vancouver geeks a chance to see a prominent, well-known member of the Linux community. I noticed the people from Stormix in attendance, as well as some VanLUG members. I got a chance to meet Scott Fraser, the founder of the Victoria Linux User Group (Victoria is a city on Vancouver Island -- look it up sometime) and Linux user since 1992. Scott is starting up Cainux, Canada's first Linux wholesale vendor. It looks like Cainux will be the place for retailers and value-added resellers to get their Linux goodies. Maybe someday I'll see a computer from a Linux hardware vendor on the store shelves next to an iMac, thanks to companies like Cainux.

Comdex/Canada West 2000 showcased the Linux community like no event in the area. This event may be a far cry from a LinuxWorld or a Linux Expo, but it helps a great deal toward increasing Linux awareness among the masses of the computer industry.

If you were wondering if Jeff Alami (jeff@linux.com), the Editor-in-Chief of Linux.com, were a geek, think of this: this entire article was written in a Palm V. Case closed. Living in Vancouver made it quite easy for Jeff to attend the event.





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