... you're being asked to stand up and:

... all in front of a very large crowd, with pictures taken and immediately uploaded to Flickr.

The actual advantage of sitting at the front row is the ability to enjoy are really amazing Desktop Linux demo. Nat did a great job at demoing the upcoming features of what's being hacked in the Novell Labs (these features should be delivered in mid-2006). Here is a quick list:

  • Import and tag photos in F-spot. Detects inserting the flash memory containing JPEG pictures, imports to F-Spot. Export to flickr.com with a single click.
  • Plays MP3 and video out of the box, using X11 (if I understood correctly) license, making it both compatible with both software patents and the open source principles. (Please leave a comment if you happen to have details on this topic, it's quite interesting)
  • connects to iPod very easily in order to play its music
  • new menu system to launch apps
  • Network manager to find your way through wired or wireless connections
  • Beagle Spotlight-like desktop search
  • ability, in OOo 2.0, to run most of the Visual basic macros of MS-Excel (very useful in the enterprise, if you ask me)
  • Ass-kicking graphics effects (with 3D), thanks to XGL including:
    • Shadows under windows
    • whobbling windows (Moving a window with the mouse makes you feel it's made of jell-o)
    • transparency
    • Window switcher with preview
    • Mac Exposé-like feature (temporarily zooming out and reorganizing windows so you see them all)
    • Zooming on windows (hardware accelerated)
    • All effects seem to work while playing video
    • 3D Cube effect used while switching from one virtual desktop to the other (really looks like the fast-user switching on the Mac).

Nat said that it's actually the first time they do such a demo outside the Novell Labs to such a large crowd. The software is in its early stages for sure, but if they manage to deliver such an improvement on the desktop, I'll feel much more confident that Linux has a future in this space. The demo was really amazing. It was entertaining, too. Nat had a few great quotes:

(while login in, we can hear the startup sound of the system) and Nat said "The windows sound was designed so that when you reboot after a crash, you feel ok" :-)

Earlier, Nat showed us pictures of most of the developers of the demoed features, using F-spot, and cracked "Microsoft does not do that because people will try to find the developers to beat the crap out of them" :-D

Entertaining, really impressive, with great new technology shown for the first time, yet very laid back, this was the best demo I saw in a very long time!