LinuxWorld 2005 – Jo’burg

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This has been an exciting (and tiring) week. I went to Jo’burg for the first time to attend the first ever South-African hosted LinuxWorld. I worked on the LPI/TSF stand, and we took along the Freedom Toaster, which generated huge interest. It was amazing how few stands were giving out Linux CD’s. The Impi stand were giving out some Impi Linux CD’s. That was about it. We took along 500 blank CD’s to give away for the toaster, which we thought would last the 4 day event. As it turns out, we used more than 400 CD’s on the first day! After that, we told people that they could bring their own CD’s to burn. We thought that this would cause the queues to get somewhat shorter, but people were still coming in large amounts and the toaster worked at full capacity for the entire week. Jaco Kroon and I had to burn CD’s on our laptops too (to keep up with the demand), so we were burning single CD distro’s, such as Ubuntu and Knoppix Overall, I estimate that we burned over 2000 CD’s this week. We were bombarded with questions, and couldn’t get to all of them, so we explained concepts like Linux Users’ Groups to groups of people at the time, and how to get more information. Initially I thought that there would be mostly GNU/Linux enthusiasts attending the event, but there was an amazing flow of people who have never heard of Linux, or at least, never used it before. The most popular distributions burnt on the toaster were SuSE, Mandriva, Fedora , Ubuntu and Knoppix. Impi was probably not burned much partially because free Impi CD’s were given out. We didn’t recommend Debian that much, since it’s 13 CD’s and it’s a bit unfair for the people waiting in the queue. Karien Bezuidenhout from the Shuttleworth Foundation and Glen Mcknight from LPI were fantastic and arranged 111 LPI examinations for the week. A highlight was having dinner with Jon “maddog” Hall. It’s amazing how much experience this guy has. He’s also very friendly and willing to share his knowledge. Grab some photos:

Dinner with maddog at Moyo
Some Linuxworld stands
Drinks with maddog at newscafe

TSF stands at LinuxWorld

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Software Loyalty

Free Software, Project Mayhem No Comments »

I’ve always thought of myself as being very loyal. Last week, at a team building event, many people described me as being extremely loyal. I’ve been wondering if this is really such a good thing. Many people have product loyalty, they buy their brandname shoes, their favourite cell phones, etc. without considering other options much.

I’ve been seeing the same trends with software. People tend to stick with what they know, and if they come across anything they don’t quite understand, they immediately dismiss it as being inferior or somehow, “not for them”.

You see this a lot with Windows users. They are so used to seeing Windows logos everywhere. They don’t care how well their system works, as long as they see those logo’s, they feel comfortable. Simply, because they know it.

It’s the same between many Linux distributions. People get into a distribution, how it works, and why it works well for them. Then, they absolutely convince themselves that no other distro can do as well in any situation.

In my opinion, distro loyalty is pointless. Having many, diverse distro’s is a good thing. I like that I can install Slackware on a machine as a file server, and its base system will be less than 100MB (as apposed to >300MB on many other systems). I like the way Debian handles packages, and the vast ammount of software that’s available for it, and I like the way that SuSE uses YaST to make administration tasks easier for the average small office user.

My personal feeling about loyalty, when it comes to software, is that I don’t have any. My policy is to always use the best software for the job. Which means that, if I use a certain piece of software, that it really is the best software I can find. I’ll even use Windows if it works better than Linux. At this stage though, that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. I am quite excited about the recent GNU/HURD developments, though :)

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