[CentOS] Linux World Expo - London 25th + 26th Oct 2006

Tue Oct 31 08:07:40 UTC 2006
Dag Wieers <dag at wieers.com>

On Mon, 30 Oct 2006, Robert Becker Cope wrote:

> Dag Wieers <dag at wieers.com> wrote:
> > Is anyone else coming to help us out ?
> > Even for half or one day ?
> How did the Expo turn out? Would have been fun to have been able to help out.
> Maybe next year.

I was planning to do a write-up this weekend, but here we go.

The event was good, I had expected it to be more crowded but then again we 
wouldn't be able to handle it with only 2 persons managing the booth.

Lance was already there when we arrived later than planned. We brought a 
21" wide screen to display slides but Lance already had a beamer. Though 
the screen was a bigger attention grabber than the beamer mostly because 
it was brighter and upfront.

We had a problem with OpenOffice on CentOS4 to automatically show slides 
so we finally decided to show one slide on the flat screen and another 
using the beamer. I expected to have more time during the conference, but 
the fact is there wasn't any. People are constantly passing by and you 
need to actively ask them if they were familiar with CentOS. If they 
weren't you gave them your pitch, if they were you could ask what they use 
it for and discuss.

We also had too much gear with us that made the booth look unprofessional.
Even my laptop was basicly useless since we had too little space. It would 
be nice to have some room to display something, but that wasn't possible.

We had 2 big posters at the back (one with a big CentOS logo and another 
with Lance his CentOS support information) and on the table, next to the 
flat screen we had the CentOS flyers. I also took OpenVZ flyers with me.

I figured that it fitted the picture I wanted to talk about. At the event 
I also asked the mythtv team to have some mythtv flyers and they were kind 
enough to hand over some of the few flyers they had prepared.

The main pitch was that people need to understand what an Enterprise Linux 
system means. Low maintenance, low-risk updates, long support (up to 7 
years). And whether they went with SLES, Ubuntu, RHEL or CentOS was less 
important than understanding why an Enterprise Linux mattered most. 
Surprisingly most people didn't thought about it at all.

I also mentioned 3 main purposes for CentOS deployements which fitted the 
basic characteristics. For servers (obviously), for appliances and for 
your mom's desktop.

In all those cases you want to install and almost never look back. Updates 
should have no impact and changes need to be avoided. Appliances is a 
broad term, from live/demo CD's to the basis of mythtv or asterisk.

I also joked that while you may want to visit your mom more frequently 
it shouldn't be because her computer needed an upgrade and you wanted to 
avoid spending the time behind her computer. So a bleeding edge 
distribution was a no-go, you need an enterprise-class os.

The OpenVZ flyers were very useful to attrack people's attention. Most 
people hadn't heard of it and the flyer is well-designed to explain and 
give examples of the power of OpenVZ. It lay be possible to adjust the 
flyer slightly to add a CentOS pitch and maybe have MythTV flyers (and 
others) with a CentOS pitch as well.

The nice thing about having more than CentOS at your booth is that it may 
attract more people for various reasons and you have something to talk 
about apart from the OS (which is pretty boring and almost the same as any 
other OS anyway). Being able to say that OpenVZ integrates very well with 
CentOS or that even at the mythtv booth they were excited about using 
CentOS as the basis helps bring the message across.

It is fairly important to not try and put CentOS against other 
distributions. You can make some objective statements like Fedora is 
bleeding edge and how you may want to avoid it for your mom, but at the 
same time saying that Fedora is great if you want to learn Linux or fiddle 
around. But only for technical people.

Comparing CentOS against SLES is easy since OpenSuSE is bleeding edge as 
well, and the enterprise product is to pay for. Also there is a much 
bigger Red Hat-centered community and CentOS is a good thing for Red Hat 
but it wouldn't exist without Red Hat. It's a symbiosis really.
Comparing CentOS against Ubuntu is harder, LTS is supported up to 5 years 
and the community is there. Of course what will happen when the money 
stops ? Ubuntu is pretty young while Red Hat has earned its trust. This 
will obviously change in the future.

Then again, it is more important for people to understand what an 
Enterprise OS means, and if they feel more comfortable with Ubuntu nothing 
is stopping them. I always said that there was no competition and it was 
important to investigate and make a good choice.

I'll send another mail about how we should encourage people to promote 
CentOS in their local area. There are many things we can do as an 
organisation like dispatching marketing gear (flyers, posters, stickers 
and other gear) and helping people organise themselves.

Promoting CentOS is a good way to meet people, feel how the market is 
moving and maybe even making business contacts. If you didn't consider it 
yet, you probably should consider doing it at least once :)

Kind regards,
--   dag wieers,  dag at wieers.com,  http://dag.wieers.com/   --
[all I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power]