It was more Lin-dex than Comdex in Las Vegas last week, and despite the efforts of the usual suspects to hijack the agenda, Linux-hysteria and Torvalds mania has swept the IT industry's annual razzle-dazzle.

According to a number of reports, the open-source operating system was all over the show last week, including keynote addresses, that great litmus test of buzz.

Another observer declared that Linux's time is now. `DOS had 10 years, Windows has had the last 10 years and now it's time for Linux,' said Michael Cowpland, president and CEO of Corel.

And the treatment of the respective heads tells a story. Not too long ago, Microsoft's Bill Gates had the same drawing power as a rock star and kids would line up around the block just to get a glimpse of the nerd who made good. But Monday night last week, it was Linus Torvalds, developer of Linux, who held court over semi-hysterical young groupies, while Gates trotted out the establishment party line.

My, how times do change. Not that Gates didn't grab a big crowd with his keynote. He did. And what's more, he did it on a Sunday night. But now he does it while impudent whippersnappers like the Linux aficionados tweak his nose, the way he used to tweak IBM's. And they say some people are joining the Linux bandwagon simply because they find it fun.

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