30 Oct 2008 mbanck   » (Journeyer)

Systems Expo 2008

As the last years, Debian was offered a booth at last week's Systems expo here in Munich again. However, this year the Free Projects area was not organized by Rosa Riebl from C&L publishing, but by Wolfgang Drotschmann from LinuxTag e.V.. This made some things a bit more difficult, e.g. we did not know our exact booth number until a couple of days before the expo and the small conference programme was made up in an ad-hoc fashion after the expo started, but in the end most things worked out fine in some way or the other. While the booth (a demo-point, really) was as big (or rather small) as last year, there was much more space around the booth this year (something which seemed to apply to all of Systems), so things did not get too crowded even when a handful of visitors approached the booth at once. Also, the visibility was much improved as our demo point was visible by strolling visitors this year (last year, our demo point was just facing the wall).

As nobody else stepped up, I had to organize the booth again. Fewer people than last year were around; only Robert Grimm, Arne Wichmann, Franziska Lichtblau, Johannes Wiedersich, Andreas Barth and I were able to commit to staffing the booth; other people were busy over the week or moved away from Munich since last year, like Robert Lemmen or Wolfgang Lonien. Luckily, we still had the computer the GNOME project donated to us last year, and I took a TFT, keyboard and mouse from the university along. This year, I decided to not show up for the booth build-up the day before Systems starts. On the one hand, I had made the experience that there is not much one can do then anyway, and would have to put the computer/TFT into the central locker room overnight anyway. On the other hand, there was as always a very low attendence in the first few hours of the expo so building up the booth in the morning turned out to be no problem. The Credativ people again provided us with merchandise (due to some miscommunication on my part the package had to arrive directly at the expo, but in the end I was glad about this as I had enough trouble carrying the computer and TFT to the expo). This year, thanks to Credativ, we were able to provide some t-shirts for the first time, something quite some visitors had requested over the years. Besides t-shirts, we had some swirl stickers and the popular Debian keychains provided by Joerg Jaspert through Credativ.

In the end the booth mostly consisted of the computer (demonstrating Lenny most of the time) and some A4 sized Swirls I had printed out the day before. From Wednesday on we were able to provide Lenny Beta2 CDs as well thanks to Johannes Wiedersich who organized them. Initially, I asked ADR whether they would produce some CDs for us again as they did last year, but they did not bring the appropriate hardware this time. But thanks to Johannes we were still able to provide interested visitors with CDs through LSK. In the end, we ran out of most t-shirts at some point on Thursday and managed to sell the two remaining Lady shirts on Friday. All the other merchandise was gone by the end of the show as well so the way back was not that difficult, even more so as Andreas Barth helped me carry the computer to the subway and my car.

The days I was at Systems (first and last day) the attendance was rather low, so not that many interesting discussions happened. Almost everybody who stepped by knew Debian already and the majority was using it themselves as well, at least on their servers. Those people were also really quite happy, we rarely heard much critizism, even after asking people for some. The most frequently asked question was undoubtly "when will Lenny release?", followed by "do you have that cool t-shirt in L or XL as well?". Overall it was a pretty good experience, albeit slightly stressful organizing it. In any case, this was probably the last time I had to do this as the Systems organizers announced they will rethink their concept and there will be no Systems 2009.

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