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Desktop Linux Summit Report

The 4th Annual Desktop Linux Summit was wrapped up in San Diego last week and it was the biggest yet. This year was host to 800 attendees, 30 exhibitors and sponsors, and three packed speaker tracks with close to 40 sessions. Here's my view from the floor:

1) A virtual attendance record - Thanks to DLS sponsor Nine Systems, all 13 keynote sessions from this year's show were broadcast live over streaming video for those who couldn't make it to the show. More than 1,000 people signed up to watch all or part of these speeches, including Marcel Gagné's opening speech on Barriers to Mass Adoption

and Geoff Moore's headline keynote on market potential for desktop Linux. Check out the videos yourself here.

2) Distrowatch - Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Linspire, and KDE were all represented on the show floor this year - a first for the Desktop Linux Summit. (Xandros was there in spirit as bag sponsor for the show.) It was great to see all these "competing" distros together on the show floor - and many attendees commented that this was one of the rare shows that put all these desktop-focused products together in such close quarters.

3) Linspire's big bang - Kevin Carmony dropped the bomb early in the show by announcing the Freespire project, a free version of Linspire open to community contributions, with a completely open source version and a version that includes proprietary software. Linspire plans to release the first Freespire beta in August, but you can join the community now at, and watch Kevin's announcement here.

4) Eye Candy from Novell - Nat Friedman from Novell wowed the crowd with the SUSE 10.1 beta desktop, which makes use of XGL 3D graphics technology. The flexibility of Linux is starting to show - and there is indeed something out there for everyone when it comes to choosing a Linux desktop - including those who are looking for bleeding-edge special effects


and eye candy.

5) Linux for Suits - This year's show marked a sea-change for DLS. More and more speakers were talking about the business of open source, including Dave Rosenberg, OSDL's principal analyst, Dave Uhlman, the CEO of Uversa, and Greg Mancusi-Ungaro of Novell. Not to mention Geoff Moore as keynote, who gave a talk on Dealing With Darwin - Evolving Linux and spoke about how Linux should differentiate itself from Microsoft to survive. Watch his keynote here.

6) Tux Squad - Another new event at the Desktop Linux Summit was the inclusion of the Tux Squad Linux Install Fest. Volunteers from around Southern California and Mexico came to help people install Linux on their computer. Open Country was on hand to demonstrate their technology which allows you to "provision" a hard drive -- that is to install an operating system on it right over the network! More than 40 people stopped by to get Linux installed on their system including many Microsoft Windows users who were switching to Linux for the first time.


7) Printing with Linux - HP once again showed its leading support for desktop Linux, as the printer division was there in full force at DLS this year. This type of consistency from industry leaders is this kind of support desktop Linux needs to keep moving into the mainstream.

8) Fun and cutting edge - SageTV showed off their Linux based PVR - who needs all the hassles of dealing with Windows Media Center! NComputing demoed their PCExpanion product which is a realistic way today to make $100 PCs a reality for schools and emerging countries. Neuros Technology showed off their MPEG-4 recorder designed with a unique open source R&D approach.

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