Photos and text by Marty Connor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Etherboot Project secured a .ORG Pavillion booth at LinuxWorld Expo San Francisco 2001.
We had as our guests in the booth the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP.org),.Our goal was to raise the profile of network booting and thin client technology. I think we succeeded. For three days we demonstrated various aspects of thin client computing, including network booting, creation of ROM images (including demonstrations of ROM-o-matic.net), ROM burning, server configuration, applications of network booting, and many other topics of interest to people at the show.
And interest there was! During the exhibition hours we had almost constant traffic at our booth, and were able to meet a lot of people and open a lot of eyes to new possibilities.
So what follows is a brief description of our adventure at LinuxWorld, with some pictures.
We also had a webcam setup at the booth, which updated every 3 minutes, and gave people a chance to see what was going on in the booth and the folks crowded around the equipment. Here's the a picture from that camera:
Live from San Francisco!
Here are some pictures from the show. They are just some pictures I took with my digital camera. Hopefully they will help tell the story of our little adventure.
(click small images for larger view)
This is the demo machine that I constructed for demonstrating network booting. It is a Micro-ATX form factor. The motherboard is an Intel CA810EA, with on-board i810 video. I used a Celeron 566MHZ processor, and put in 128MB of RAM. It has 4 PCI slots, which I mainly used only one for demonstrating PCI NIC cards. With its aggressive heat sink, the CPU fan was not necessary, but I quickly reconnected the fan because people kept asking if the machine was really on! It ran flawlessly as a thin client. I removed all drives and cut plexiglas panels and affixed them with velcro for top, sides, and front in order to make a good display and so people would see there was (as our slogan says) "Nothing but Net!".
Here is the flyer we handed out so that people would remember the project and check out our web sites. We handed out hundreds of them. People had a little trouble figuring out what our booth was about sometimes. We got questions like "how do you folks make money if you give away software?" We explained about being a volunteer project, and that we promoted the technology mainly because we believed in it, and hoped that it would be useful. A lot of people are going to be hitting the web sites, I'm sure.
Here is the completed Etherboot demo setup in the booth. The thin client is on the left, and the monitor is displaying ROM-o-matic.net. In the background you can see two laptops. The one on the left if the server for the thin client, and the one on the right is mainly running the webcam. Behind and below the thin client is a hub and router to keep the traffic from the network booting workstation off the show LAN. The thin client was probably netbooted over a hundred times during the show with no problems. The server was running Redhat 7.0, and was configured using LTSP 2.x for remote apps.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to represent the Etherboot Project at this LinuxWorld Expo. I will have many pleasant memories of the show, and one the most pleasant was when Chris DiBona of VA Linux came by the last day of the show and asked whether we would be interested in having a booth at the next show in New York.
I gave a very strong "yes" to the idea, and am already planning for it. Though I can think of very few things that could have gone much better than they did, I can think of a few, and I'm sure by January we'll have some really good new things to show and new people to show them to.
I would like to thank Jim McQuillan, Jim Glutting, and David Parsley for their excellent and generous assistance with the booth, and their hospitality in the evenings. We had an all-around excellent time, and I can't wait until the next time. I would also like to acknowledge our hosts, VA Linux, and the IDG staff at the Expo, as well as Freeman Decorating and ShowNets, who provided support and assistance to help us make our booth really shine.