Solutions Linux Paris 2005 -- Report

Solutions Linux Paris was held from February, 1st to February, 3rd at the CNIT in Paris-La Défense. This year again, we were offered a booth in the .Org Pavilion.

The people manning the booth this year were (in no particular order) Christian Perrier, Sven Luther, Bill Allombert, Jean-Michel Kelbert, Raphaël Hertzog, Cédric Delfosse, Ludovic Drolez, Frédéric Peters, Niv Altivanik, Aurélien Gérôme, Nicolas Pétillon, Frédéric Lehobey, Géraud Gratacap, Nadine St-Amand and myself.

Other Debian developers were present at the exhibition, representing their companies: Benjamin Drieu and Arnaud Quette. Sam Hocevar, Thomas Seyrat and Jérôme Marant popped by to say hello.

Our booth this year was really great, thanks to all the people who offered their help, and thanks to our kind sponsors. Actually, it's been our best booth since the first edition of this exhibition.

Other reports and photos can be found on my page.

"When will Sarge be released?"

We've been asked this question numerous times, just as last year. Fortunately, we could explain to our visitors that Sarge was really close to release, and what steps needed to be taken before the release.

As it happens, our users have, for a great majority, switched to Sarge already, despite the lack of security support. Home users mostly don't care about it that much (although some do care), and enterprise users are spending time tracking the security updates in unstable, then updating their snapshots of Sarge.

Not all enterprise users are pleased with this situation, but they greatly prefer doing it that way rather than using Woody or switching to another distribution. Woody backports aren't considered a good enough solution by most of them.

l10n/i18n in debian-installer

Christian Perrier brought Babelbox, a demonstration machine that reinstalls itself automatically using debian-installer, running the installation in a different language at each iteration.

This demonstration was a great success; it demonstrated the ability of debian-installer to perform unattended installations, and the high level of i18n/l10n attained by the installer and the whole system.

For Bill Allombert, this has been the chance to check that the menu package he maintains was working correctly under the different languages.

"How to support Debian for our products?"

A few companies came to ask us how a company can support Debian for their products. The real questions are what version to support and who to contact for some key points of the system (most notably, the kernel). Christian Perrier posted these questions on debian-devel during the exhibition.

As it happens, software vendors have a growing need to support Debian for their products. In France, some ministries are requiring Debian support in their invitations to tender; this is a growing tendency.

Technical questions

The exhibition is the occasion for our users to come and ask precise technical questions to the developers on the booth.

This year again, we've had our share of questions, with varying degrees of complexity. We were able to answer all the questions we were asked, leading to some really interesting discussions with our users.

Documentation, translation

A retired documentation translator came to the booth, asking questions about support for the Sagem Fast 800 ADSL modem (a USB piece of crap, supported by the eagle-usb-* packages).

The discussion went on to the availability and quality of the translated documentation. It might be an evidence to some, but you cannot translate a technical documentation if you don't master the languages (original and target) and the subject of the documentation.

We came to the conclusion that a real effort was needed in this area; this isn't exactly new, but the situation might be worse than some of us imagined.

Non-i386 architectures

Sven Luther brought a Pegasos machine, so we could demonstrate Linux on non-Apple PowerPC machines. Equipped with two blue neons, this shiny machine attracted quite a few visitors. Unfortunately, as our plans to takeover the PLF (Mandrake) booth next to our booth failed, we couldn't put his machine on the front of the booth ;)

As it happens, more and more users are interested in non-i386 architectures, mainly to run Debian on Apple and amd64 machines. Lots of people (including companies) asked for the amd64 port, and couldn't understand why it isn't part of our official archive yet. Explaining Debian's internal political issues isn't that easy.


Despite what can be read here and there, we're still one of the most popular distribution out of there. We heard about a lot of scary experiences with other distributions, too ;)


Thanks go to the following people or companies for their support and their help in getting our booth to a state where it was actually far better than some of the commercial ones:

Without the help of these people and sponsors, the Debian booth wouldn't have been such a success. Thanks to you all.

Special Thanks

Loïc Bernable deserves some special thanks for coordinating the ..Org Pavilion this year again. It's a tough job, especially this year, as he had to deal with ineffective organizers.

Alix Guillard and Anne were there to help him, thanks to them too.

Next year

We'll be there next year too. See you !

Julien Blache