[sf-lug] Linux show demos (was: Linux podcasts)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Feb 25 15:31:36 PST 2008

Quoting jim stockford (jim at well.com):

>    well, now we ARE one..., per the old "consultant"
> joke (...a month ago i couldn't spell "consultant",
> now i are one...). i.e. SF-LUG is getting a booth at
> The Metreon for this April 12, 13 fest.

Good job, that.  Fortunately, there's probably time to sit down and plan
something suitably visually snazzy.  A word of advice:  Whatever you
have in mind to do, I very strongly recommend you get it set up and
debugged _well before_ the day of the event.

> Anybody got some snazzy demos?

This is the area where I'd definitely encourage some (well in advance)
thinking and planning.

Back in the day (starting around 1996), when CABAL held installfests
inside the Robert Austin Computer Shows at the Oakland Convention Center
and Cow Palace, we faced a very similar problem (but in a slightly
different historical context):  Back then, the general computing public
was largely unaware of Linux.  CABAL's challenge was to get the
attention of the 5000-per-day Robert Austin Show customers strolling
through the vast halls, to make them walk up and say "What in tarnation
is _that_?"

At the time, one of our standard solutions was to deploy, on the largest
monitors we had, the splashiest and least-typical X11 window managers of
the day.  "E" (Enlightenment) was one obvious choice, at the time,
especially when gussied up even further with various "theme" packages.
Our watchword was that, _whatever_ we showed off (POVtrace, etc.), we
were trying to make it look as attractive as possible but _also_ as
least similar as possible to MS-Windows or MacOS environments or

Why?  Because the entire rest of the vast exhibit hall was full of
tables showing the same damned boring Windows applications.  Our "hook"
for marketing purposes was to be attention-getting in any and all ways
that distinguished our tables from the others.

I am not suggesting that SF-LUG do exactly the same.  My suggestion is
that some sort of analogous logic might apply to your somewhat
different situation, a decade later.  (Clue:  Distro-default displays of
GNOME and KDE running OpenOffice.org are probably not your friend.)

>    what's Compiz? 

One of two leading "3D" window managers for X11, the other being
Beryl.[1]  These are the ones with the whizzy visual effects where you
can grab a corner of your onscreen desktop and give it a twist with your
pointer, resulting in the entire "desktop" surface being revealed to be
one face of a cube, and you get to spin the cube around to pick which
other face (virtual desktop) to make current, instead.

I first saw it demo'ed a few years back in prerelease versions of Novell
Linux Desktop 9, which was the forerunner of the current SUSE Linux
Enterprise Desktop 10.  Most distros now include Compiz.  (See link in

Main gotcha is required video hardware and GL-libs support.  For quite a
while, it worked only with Nvidia or ATI 3D-capable accelerated video
chips _and_ corresponding proprietary X11 & kernel drivers.  More
recently, this rather depressing situation has improved, but you still
need to be selective about video chips and X11 "GL" support software.

> How can we get some Linux disks to pass out? 

Free sets of Ubuntu CDs are available to LUGs from Canonical, Ltd. as a
promotional effort, but not on short notice.  See:
https://shipit.ubuntu.com/  (Note predicted 2.5 month delivery time.)

Or, you can buy Ubuntu CDs/DVDs in bulk, e.g., packs of 20 CDs for $33, 
probably not including shipping.  Note that some people will want i386,
others x86_64 (aka "AMD64").  https://shop.canonical.com/  I have no
experience, but predict you can get quicker shipment that way.  Being
willing to pay actual money sometimes does that.  ;->

A word of advice on free tschotsckes (as we say in Norwegian[2]).
People take "free" DVD/CD giveaways because they're available and don't
cost anything, but it's a stunningly inefficient way to get actual use
of software to occur in the real world, statistically.  In part, this is
because most of the world, most of the time, values strictly at cost
anything they get without expense, e.g., they implicitly consider it
worthless.  (I mention this cultural problem, especially in the 
"LUG helpdesk" context, in the User Group HOWTO.)

People are so conditioned to simply grab free swag and then bury it in a
desk drawer that, when CABAL member Eric de Mund mailed CABAL a care
package of disks of the newly released Ubuntu/Kubuntu 7.04 "Gutsy Gibbon" 
for CABAL's library, I was somewhat shocked to note at the end of the
subsequent CABAL meeting that attendees had had the nerve to walk off
with _all_ of the newly arrived disks, such that I had to download
everything from scratch!  I've now made a mental note to, in the future,
write "Property of Rick Moen" on all such disks _before_ making them
available to attendees.

[1] I'm a little vague on the current status of this stuff -- "Don'
smoke that sh**, mon" -- but believe Beryl has now gone away, and here's
an account of the matter plus a snapshot of the [in]famous
virtual-desktop cube in mid-twist:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compiz

[2] Sorry, old joke.  "Tschotschke" is, in fact, Yiddish for knick-knack,
swag, small trivial item of limited commercial value.  Sadly, I know a
lot less of my father's language than I do of Yiddish, but, by way of
compensation, the latter's probably a lot more fun.

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