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LinuxTag 2014: New Venue, New Life, Done.

Linux-specific events are really dying a long slow death. Unless it is a technical conference organised for (by?) kernel hackers, the event is dying, if not already dead. Perhaps you noticed this in your local event? Things like LinuxWorld, LinuxExpo etc have really had their day. Why? Linux just isn’t really an issue any more. This year LinuxTag, my “local” event in Berlin, has moved venue. With the exception of a couple of teething issues, it was a perfectly slick operation. Even more impressive given that, for the first time ever, the conference co-located with Droidcon and (to a much lesser extent) re:publica at the new venue.

LinuxTag, with its “where .com meets .org” tagline, is really a fusion of two events. The first is a trade show for companies that trade in Free Software (to some extent). Lots of Android (using) companies around this year, too. Most notably Sony, I guess. The second event is a community event, not too dissimilar to any other community get-together where projects can setup their own stand and pimp their wares direct to users. As someone who is involved with the business of Free Software, I found there was plenty for me in both aspects of the conference. Not at lot of integration between the two in general, though.

As a community event, LinuxTag is a great thing. As with any other Free Software gathering, I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with all these cool people that I work with, but only see once in a blue moon. I guess the downside for the community folk is the price tag, something which is of no surprise to the .com portion of the event. I did not really hang out in the .com part of the conference all that much, save for spending some time with the more community-oriented specimens, like ownCloud (who were actually in the .org space rather than the .com space; smart move). This duality between .com and .org is part of the problem for LinuxTag… because I really do not get the feeling there is much “meeting” between the two parts, no matter what the tagline states.

This is only a small problem, though. The real issue (and this is the problem that all Linux events now suffer) is that Linux is no-longer exciting. It is not new. It has gained acceptance and mass market appeal in everywhere but the desktop. To that extent, the match-up with Droidcon was exactly the right thing to do. Android, for now, is still pretty sexy and clearly related to Linux. But even Android events will suffer the same fate as Linux events, eventually.

I had a great few days at LinuxTag. Well organised, fun, interesting. However, in the same way that the web is dead and nobody has quite accepted that yet, Linux events are also dead. Absolutely nobody to blame; it’s just the natural order of things.

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