Linux@Work Conference - Amsterdam - 14/06/2001

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Since I missed the same conference in Milano in May I decided to go to the one in Amsterdam, and this is what was all about.

I had to go to the Radisson Sas Hotel of Aamersfoort, nearby Amsterdam, and since I live 180 Km from Amsterdam I decided to go with the motorbike and avoid the trafic. If you've been in Netherland once in your life you know what I'm talking about.

On the other hand, the 'conference' was geeky enough for me to show up dressed like a biker without scaring anybody.

Get to the hotel at 8.20, right on time for a morning coffe (5 NLG for a coffee???) and registration. First dissappointment: no free t-shirt? Second thing: in front of the hotel, the Microsoft's Headquarter?

Geeky place

Microsoft HQ in front!

Started walking around the place and note that most of the "exposer" weren't there yet, the only ones there were the boys of Debian that were setting up a couple of Alpha Digital and distributing CDs. I take my chance and get a couple of stickers.

I got mistaken for a journalist (because of the photocamera), try to reassure everybody that the pictures were just for me, strangely, the idea that some moron would put them on the internet doesn't look so scary. But let's begin!

The first speaker was from LogOn Technology Transfert ( that were also the organizer of the event, after a quick intros we go to the real 'guests'.

Omnis was showcasing their flagship OmnisStudio that is basically a 4Gl environment to produce Intra/Extranet applications, then only interesting bit (if you can say so) is the Visual-basic like interface. So similar to VB that a VB developer should be able to use it right away. Now, I'm no great fan of VB or 4GL systems so let's move on.

Omins Studio=Visual Basic on Linux

Borland was presenting the new Kylix project, basically a port of Delphi under Linux with a dash Zinc in the mix. Basically a framework to build applications that should allow somebody to develop something and then port it to different OS (Windows/Linux) without having to rebuilt the whole thing. The difference with Java is that the whole application is really compiled instead of relying on a VM to execute it.

Nice idea, but I'd preferred something that could be decoupled from his own propietary interface and get a real lib/compiler combo. And maybe C/C++ based instead of pascal.

Without noticing is noon, time to eat. Everybody rushes to the buffet and then a quick tour of the 'exposers'.

A little bit forgotten, since the only time somebody was there to look at them, they were presenting some interesting bit of techs.


Mobilix was showcasing a "wearable computer" based on a StrongArm processor with 64Mb of ram and an 8Mb of flash ram. The keyboard strapped to the forearm looks a lot "predator" and the rest make you think to the Borg.

Resistance is futile...

IBM was there with a rackable machine with an 800Mhz processor and 40 Gb disk. Unfortunately the guy that was working with it wasn't very familiar with the system and after a couple of attempt at rebooting he went for the reset button.

AccuCorp was presenting some "business related services" and got basically ignored.

A pretty and ignored girl, for a company I forgot the name of in 3 seconds was showing a 'miniserver' for the office. Based on a LongHorn 400 Mhz processor this mini-pc provide mail, web, dhcp, ftp and firewalling with a very limited footprint.

A radio? No, a server.

Started slow, maybe because of the sandwiches in the stomachs.

Compaq was trying to rally the troops talking about support services, new hardware for heavy usage and so on. The speaker was easy to spot since he was wearing a business-blu jacket on top of a red t-shirt and jeans... The phrase "if your boss ask who's supporting Linux, you tell him that we do!" made an impression.

Totally monotone and monochrome was Hp speech. The "drone" that was sent in needed to have his battery changed. And more over, on a day when everybody spoke only English, they gave their speech olny in dutch!

The it was his moment, the moment everybody was waiting for: John "maddog" Hall, from Linux Organization, that jumped up and put up a real show, with some real humour. A little anomalous moment was when he was talking about how the FermiLab uses a beowulf cluster to search for quarks and somebody nearby started laughing... The whole auditorium turned back to look and I was "it was him..."

John "maddog" Hall

Then it was Lotus time, that couldn't answer my question: why Lotus never developed a Linux Notes client? Maybe because nobody wants Notes anymore?

The Fujitsu speaker was happy 'cause the room still had some peoples in it. In fact, from the 'all full' a lot of peoples decided to get out and bug the Debian guys in the hall. On the other hand, most of the speakers weren't concerned about "what" to do with Linux but "with what", that is, the hardware.

At this point it was 16.30 and I decided to get going.

Good the organization, a bit more space for exposition could have attracted a bit more people, but what looked weird is the choice of speakers.

Let me expand: maybe a dozen peoples in the audience looked like managers or anyway related to the 'decision' chain of command, the rest were probably geeks and developers like me. Peoples that use Linux already and doesn't need convincing.

Most of the discussions about hardware fell flat because they were trying to convince people to buy their hardware, but we couldn't buy them anyway. And most of the time what is interesting for the buyers is not the 'support' but the price.

So, good point but wrong target.

Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

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Davide Bianchi, works as Unix/Linux administrator for an hosting provider in The Netherlands.

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