LinuxWorld Expo New York 2001
Etherboot Project Report and Scrapbook

Here are some images and descriptions of LinuxWorld Expo New York
from the perspective of the Etherboot project.

Photos and text by Marty Connor (

The Etherboot Project secured a .ORG Pavillion booth at LinuxWorld Expo New York 2001.

We had as our guests in the booth the Linux Terminal Server Project (,.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 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.

The Booth

We got an excellent booth location. We were basically dead center in the exhibition space. The .ORG Pavillion is quite a nice setup that is sponsored by VA Linux. We were on a corner, and had good foot traffic from two aisles.

We were supplied with a carpeted 8x10 booth, a table, power, and an internet connection. Exhibit hall hours were Wednesday and Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and Friday from 10am to 4pm. We arrived on Tuesday for setup,and began the process of making the booth ready for demonstrating our technology.

We had a somewhat ambitious agenda. As this was our first chance to show off the technology at a major trade show, we wanted to make a good impression. We were also aware that the booth space we were given was worth approximately $6000US, and we wanted to make sure the show promoters knew that we appreciated the opportunity.

Who says we're geeks and nerds?? :-)

Here are the people who are working in the booth. (from left to right) David Parsley (Roanoke College), Jim Glutting (LTSP Project), Marty Connor (Etherboot Project) and Jim McQuillan (LTSP Project). Many thanks for all their help in making network booting technology accessible!


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 long and prosper"

Photo Gallery

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 agressive 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 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.

Here is a picture of the crowds around the booth. We demonstrated running StarOffice, Netscape, and various other applications. People were amazed at the speed even at 10BASE-T. We ran VMWARE Express in order to be able to run the DOS software included with the ROM burner. We showed people how to download ROM code and put it into ROMs. Jim McQuillan of was at the booth much of the time demonstrating the LTSP package for configuring and administering servers and clients.

Here is another shot of the booth. That's me on the left, Jim Glutting (center) and David Parsley (right). On the right you can see the LTSP demo machine's monitor. They used a compact diskless PC client and a compact server tucked in our storage cabinet. There was great interest in LTSP, and I'm sure many more people will be trying it and contributing to the project after this show.

Here you can see a little more context. We are at the corner of a set of 12 booths pretty much the same size and arrangement.

This is what the booth area looked like without all the carpeting and finishing. It is kind of amazing to be at the show before opening. It is hard to believe all the activity, all the workers putting up signs, and all of the electricians, forklifts and show staff running here and there. I can say that we were treated extremely well by the show staff, and when we needed something, it was not hard to find a helpful person, willing to lend a hand.

Our neighbors were, OSDN, and SourceForge. They were also very popular, and we were very pleased with the traffic that flowed in our area. We were on the main corridor that connected the two halls, so we got a lot of passersby stopping in to see what all the crowds were about. I just loved saying "Are you interested in network booting of computers?" people were both amused and amazed both by the technology and by the enthusiasm we had for it.

This is part of the show floor showing some of the larger vendor's booths. With the smallest 8x10 foot booth costing about $5000US without carpeting, electricity, or furniture, you can imagine that these big booth must be quite pricey. But trade shows are basically about advertising, press releases, and getting the word out, so I'm sure they had the intended effect. There was definitely a business/enterprise/ASP kind of focus at this show, but hackers were out in force, and we had good fun meeting people and sharing the fun.

One more shot of the show floor. I didn't get a lot of time to wander the show floor, with the amount of activity in the booth, but when I did I was impressed with how large the Javits Center is. I also was quite impressed with Linux's penetration into the corporate arena. I can't say this is the most fun I've had -- in some ways I have fonder memories of the Red Hat sponsored Linux Expos in Raleigh/Durhan NC, and the Atlanta Linux Showcase, but this show was interesting too. And of course New York is vibrant (if expensive), so you might not see all the same kind of people here, as companies economize, but business people did attend, and I think vendors got some quality contacts. Embedded systems people seem *very* positive about Linux, in particular.

Epilogue and Acknowledgements

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, which will be August 27 - 30, 2001 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA.

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 August 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.