CES 2009: How I Barely Avoided An Epic Fail

Posted by Scott_Ruecker on Jan 9, 2009 7:00 PM EDT
LXer Linux News; By Scott Ruecker (Phoenix, U.S.)
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LXer Feature: 09-Jan-2009

A review of my time walking around the largest technology exposition on the planet and how I barely avoided an epic fail at finding something FOSS related to write about.

So here I am at the largest technology show on the planet, its big, there are thousands of exhibitors, buyers, sellers and of course a ton of Press from all over the world. It is my first time so I have no point of reference with which to judge it by but from what I have found out from CES employees and other members of the Press it is a down year for attendance and participation. Gee, I can't imagine why? ;-)

I came to CES for several reasons. I had never been to one and thought it a great opportunity to go to a "mainstream" event and see just exactly what goes on. I wanted to see if it really was the biggest of them all (which it is) and I wanted to see how much FOSS related stuff I could find and in so doing get an idea of just how far Open Source has penetrated into the "mainstream". Needless to say I was in for a surprise, if you could call it that.

I will tell you that I did not set my expectations very high, I did not expect to find Open Source products, software or hardware at every turn. But I did expect to find some, or a few, or a couple though. So far I have found one, that's right one, just one thing running Linux on it. So here is my story of how I barely missed experiencing an "Epic Fail" at CES 2009.

Over the course of the last two days I have wandered around the different showrooms at the Las Vegas Convention Center and two different casino convention centers looking for things to share with our readers. I went by the ASUS booth figuring that of all the vendors they would have some Linux machines up and running for show attendees to look at. They all but invented the Netbook market with their Eee PC that came with only Linux on it until Microsoft realized they were getting cut out of an entire market segment and brought XP back from the dead. So I should have been able to see a whole line of them at their booth running Linux on them right? Wrong.

I looked and looked and all I could see was XP, XP, and some more XP. So I finally got myself in front of a ASUS representative and was politely told that there were no Eee PC computers running of any kind of Linux on them, none, not even one, and there wouldn't be either. I have to say that the rep was not exactly willing to talk about it much more than to tell me "No" and then disappeared quickly soon after. Not one Eee PC running Linux at the biggest Tech Expo on the planet? Interesting to say the least.

So I went to the LG and HP booths as well looking for one or two Netbooks running Linux and guess what? I got the same answer and as interesting (to me at least) got the same reaction from the representatives too. Not a single Netbook running Linux and not a single vendor rep willing to say more than "Sorry, there are no computers here running Linux." Needless to say I was starting to wonder if I had stepped into the Twilight Zone of Tech Shows. Was I just blind and not seeing them? Was I stupid? (don't answer that) or was I just in the midst of an 'Epic Fail' in finding something, anything to write about?

To my surprise I did find something..

I was walking around feeling a little despondent to say the least and found myself at the Intel booth directly across the way from the Microsoft booth. The Intel people were touting their new Atom Processor and such and I started looking around at the dozen or so Netbooks that they had out and to my complete and utter surprise I found one Netbook running Ubuntu on it. I literally stood there like a 'Deer in headlights' for a minute dumbfounded at my find. I FOUND SOMETHING RUNNING LINUX ON IT! I am not an Epic Fail!

It was a little Dell Netbook that unlike all the other Netbooks around it, was and would not get on the Internet no matter what. Believe me, I tried to no avail. I couldn't believe that of all the places to find something running Linux on it, I find it at the Intel booth. Which just happened to be within throwing distance of the Microsoft booth too. It felt kind of like sneaking into the Dragon's Lair by walking right under his nose, while he was awake! Again, very interesting.

So after coming down off my "I'm not an Epic Fail" high I found a friendly Intel person and asked if the one little Dell was the only thing running Linux on it in their booth. He said yes. It was the only thing they had not running Windows on it. My immediate question then was did he know where the Dell booth was because they certainly would have more, or at least one more of their Netbooks running Linux on it right? Wrong again. Guess what? Dell had recently pulled out and was not at the show in any shape or form.

What? You mean to tell me that the only computer I could find running Linux on it at CES was a Dell running Ubuntu and they were not even at the show? Wow! Really? Are you sure? Is this some kind of joke? Have I been drugged? Come to find out, no joke, no drugs and no Dell at the show. Along with no Novell, no AMD and scores of other vendors who have been staunch attendees for years. I guess they were right about it being a down year weren't they?

Having a Press ID hanging around my neck made me stick out a bit while walking around and I had many vendor reps flag me down wanting to talk about their products and such. When I asked if it was Open Source related I was time and time again told, "No, sorry" and quickly brushed aside. I know there has to be more FOSS related stuff at CES, there has to be, and I just haven't found it. I know there will be others who find it but I swear I looked and looked and looked and all I found was one Dell running Ubuntu. I am not sure what to take from this except that FOSS has a long way to go in getting the attention of the 'mainstream' consumer electronics industry.

Luckily, time is on our side. Right?

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features, Reviews; Groups: Community, HP, Intel, Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu

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