Day 2: Keynote: Michael Dell


Charly Greco, president of IDG, opened the keynote and gave a few words about the expo itself. He explained how Linuxworld had been growing and how we'll probably meet at the Moscone center in San Francisco next year as we obviously outgrew the San Jose convention center.

Charlie Greco, IDG

Michael Dell

Michael gave his presentation running eazel, which Dell is promoting, and used Applixware for his presentation, which is always a nice change from the linux presentations on powerpoint running on windows (actually I've been told that the Applixware folks created the presentation for him and that they got pissed that he didn't mention them, like he was supposed to) :-)
You can find the synopsis of his talk (without the Q&A session) here

He first explained why open source makes sense to companies like Dell for support and cost reasons. As linux grew, it made sense for Dell to start using and offering it. He then went on to explain that linux is however a disruptive technology for companies not used to that business model.
Dell has saved several million dollars per year per factory by using linux to load customer specific disk images on new machines.

Dell started getting interested in linux when its customers did and started making linux queries on their web site.
Michael showed that Dell is #2 provider of linux systems worldwide and has had a tremendous growth in workstations with Red Hat shipments

According to him, Linux on the desktop has already reached the numbers of Mac on the desktop, which is, in addition to the orders they were getting, one of the reasons why Dell has been putting, through Dell ventures a lot of money in linux and linux related companies.

Michael gave numbers on the projected growth of linux and linux on servers, and said that proprietary unices are actually projected to decline somewhat.
He also showed a graph of Dell growing to 22% of US server market share, while remaining leader in the desktop market.

He explained that Dell is helping linux succeed by offering services, enterprise level acceptance, and availability on all dell products.
He then showed some of their customers who use linux on their products and introduced Bill from Toyota. Bill explained that after having a proprietary vendor fail to provide a pre-caching solution for their dealerships, they got a working prototype up on linux in 2 weeks.


After that, came the Q&A section:
One of the questions was "what is Dell doing to help the linux community and develop software that is contributed back. Another part was how can they be trusted for support when they aren't involved in the software or the community like VA Linux and similar companies". The interesting part was that the audience applauded on this question.
Michael explained that they're not about software and that they've changed their organization to work with and support linux. For him, people are voting with their dollars, and considering the amount of sales they have, they're doing fairly good :-)

Answering another question, Michael confirmed that you can now buy a Dell laptop without any windows software, but apparently (according to a couple of questions that were asked), Dell systems shipping with linux still cost a little more than similarly configured windows systems, when they should really cost somewhat less.
Michael didn't really give a straight answer. He mentioned that Dell has less operating costs due to the volume of machines they ship, but yet said that they reflect whatever costs they have in the end product price as they are money driven and need to report to their shareholders.
All in all, his answers weren't very convincing...

Bruce Perens, one of the people who asked questions
and didn't get really convinced by the answers.

When the Q&A session was over with, came the award ceremony. Charly Greco, presented the 4th IDG/Linus Torvalds award, which went to debian this time and was received by Wichert Akkerman, the Debian Project Leader.
While Linus didn't give a keynote, he did accept to give the award. He said again that he always enjoy giving other people's money away, especially for a good cause like debian :-)


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2000/08/22 (21:42): Version 1.0
2000/08/23 (14:04): Version 1.1. Added info in the applixware presentation