Jos Poortvliet hasn’t mentioned it as far as I could see, but his KDE4 talk at LinuxWorld in Utrecht (Netherlands) last week was just packed. Granted, the little Open Source Pavilion theatre had just 20 seats, but folk were spilled out into the aisles and blocking the exits. I’d guess about 40 people watched him demo the pillars of KDE and some nice plasma stuff.

Second most popular talk in the Open Source track was Joep Vesseur’s OpenSolaris session, with 25 or so attendees. My own talks in the track were somewhat administrative in nature – the NLUUG and CodeYard – and attracted a count-on-one-hand kind of audience.

The show as a whole was packed and I was quite surprised by this. After Linux Expo Live in London which was quiet even for the creatives and commercial offerings, I had not expected IT money to be thrown around like this at all, nor for there to be thousands and thousands of visitors. I “staffed” the NLUUG booth which sat across from the RackSpace / RedHat stand and next to the Proxy, AT Computing, LPI stands. There were another dozen or so stands in the LinuxWorld section – that part of the show itself wasn’t very big, really. It was fun to chat with the regular Open Source business folks; I see them fairly regularly at fairs and exhibitions and conferences.

LinuxWorld was co-located with StorageExpo and InfoSecurity and a ToolingEvent so that was why the whole thing drew in so many visitors; most folks were broadly IT-minded, so there was a lot of good cross-visiting.

My badge said “Exhibitor / KDE” and I wandered around the show for most of the day talking to other vendors. My “staffing” the NLUUG booth was mostly being absent, eh. Since everyone reads badges at events like this, I got roughly three kinds of responses: “KDE? What’s that?” “Is that KDE as in the KDE?” “Dude!” The KDE related question I got most was “when will it be right for me?” to which I have a pretty standard answer by now, based on my own experiences with KDE4 and tempered by some caution when recommending KDE4 to random strangers:

KDE 4.0 was for application developers to move them to our new platform; KDE 4.1 is for early adopter users who are willing to take the lead in shaping and improving KDE; KDE 4.2 is when things will be ready to use for most folks.

There were lots of specific needs mentioned, from weather applet to multi-monitor support to thin client support. Lots of thin client support, actually. That kind of follows the server and storage virtualization theme of the conference, but it shows a real business need.

Over the next months I’ll be contacting some of these businesses to see if we can field-test KDE4 in their environments; that kind of real user runtime testing is invaluable, even if it sometimes points to niche needs. It helps spread KDE everywhere.