Tuesday, August 7, 2007

LinuxWorld 2007: More than “a Linux show”

This year’s LinuxWorld landscape was dominated by hardware vendors and OSVs.

Surprisingly, more than half the booths at LinuxWorld this year were taken up hardware vendors, mostly mature companies such as Intel, AMD, HP, Dell, Palm, and Motorola. There also were many storage vendors.

There are two reasons for this:

  • First, IDG (the operator of LinuxWorld) is not LinuxWorld magazine, the operator of LinuxWorld for the first five years. IDG’s customer base stretches back for two decades and draws heavily from the classic OEM vendors.
  • Second, when a market passes the post-tipping-point, as Linux clearly has, commodity vendors -- the hardware guys -- seek out market share wedges.

OSVs presented a very business-software-solutions orientation on the software side of LinuxWorld. This year (finally!) OSVs grounded their marketing communications at the show on tangible value, ROI, and business integration instead of happy-go-lucky open source pronouncements.

Virtualization vendors of all sorts abounded, but VMware, in particular, was dominant.

There was also a very strong FOSS section on the show floor, with a business cast. Remarkably, Debian, Ubuntu, and lesser-known Linux distro’s were more engaged than in prior years in marketing gimmicks (such as t-shirts, pens, give-aways, etc.) and brochureware. I think the intense battle between Red Hat and Novell, and the success of Ubuntu in particular, has driven this effort to increase distro awareness.

As for the Linux desktop, Novell seemed to win the PR battle at LinuxWorld, announcing several SuSE desktop OEM deals, while Red Hat announced a slip in their delivery schedule of Red Hat desktop.

All in all, there was a lot of money spent at LinuxWorld this year. That's because LinuxWorld is no longer just “a Linux show.”

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