Solutions Linux is the main Linux Trade Show in France. The French KDE team was there like the precedent year promoting our favorite desktop. Our booth located in the very lively Association's village was organised by the indefatigable Gérard Delafond and sported an impressive Xinerama screen-wall demonstrating the brand new KDE 3.2. This wall was sponsored by MandrakeSoft and Belinea.
We were even more ambitious in our cottage business of selling KDE branded goodies with a very popular KDE USB key and a less popular KDE ashtray. The show was also a perfect occasion for KDE fellows from all over France to get together for their KDinner and welcome a jet-lagged but still valiant George Staikos.
KDE and the French Market
Solutions Linux ran for three days and welcomed around 9600 visitors this year. After speaking with our (prospective) users, my impression is that there is no big migration plan to Linux on desktop happening now in France. The boldest move is being done by the Homeland Ministry (Ministère de l'intérieur) which is migrating to OpenOffice.org on Windows. The city of Paris have just ordered a study for the migration of its IT to Open Source. All in all, French administration is at least two years behind German administration.
No commercial booth was pushing a desktop solution, except Novell which sported a strange combination of Ximian computers at the centre of its big booth and SUSE-KDE at the periphery.
Going round the show and looking at other people's computers, my guess is that we have increased our market share in the French geek community at the expense of GNOME and Window Maker. Some geeks told me that they find that KDE is a different OSS project: serious, efficient, punctual and hard working. We have not forgotten our German roots.
Our big challenge is to market outside of our natural user base. One interesting trend is that several IT people working for industrial companies with strong R&D departments (like the defence industry) came to our booth. They plan to replace their mismatch of Unix workstations and Windows PCs to a unified affordable development and testing platform. I explained to them the way to go: KDE the developer platform. Another possible niche for KDE are vertical applications: using KDE and Qt as a base to create a richer integrated solution (hardware, software and service) for a specific trade. A KDE fellow is working in a company in such a project (still top-secret).