Chapter 7. Building Buzz

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”

Sir Francis Bacon [3]

On February 17, 2000, Ben, my pal from university, picked me up from my student halls of residence in Wolverhampton. Delicately held under my arm was a large cardboard penguin and a spindle of Linux CDs. This was a special day: Microsoft Windows 2000 was released.

Just a few weeks before, on the other side of the world in Arizona, Deepak Saxena had an idea. With the looming release of Windows 2000, Deepak wanted to see Linux user groups and open source enthusiasts take to the streets to spread the word of open source. Deepak saw the opportunity, and was determined to make it count. He decided to convert a major milestone for Windows into a “Linux Demo Day” when thousands of Linux supporters would evangelize their love of free software.

Within a few weeks, Deepak had persuaded many of the companies in the Linux space—including Caldera, EST, Linuxcare, Linux Central, Linux Mall, Red Hat, SGI, SuSE, Turbo Linux, and TuxTops—to contribute to his cause. He had publicity from some of the largest online tech news sites, and over 150 Linux user groups interested in joining in. Deepak’s little idea had become a coordinated worldwide effort.

My group was one cog in this global machine. Five of us climbed into Ben’s car, which he drove at a disturbing speed to nearby Birmingham. We proceeded to visit computer and software retailers, bookshops, and libraries, and in some cases, walk up and talk ...

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