How times change. It wasn’t that long ago that an Open Source event would have meant a few guys meeting over pizza at someone’s house.

But that was before Linux was big business. Next week’s LinuxWorld exhibition and conference, to be held at Olympia, London demonstrates that there is a guaranteed way to make money out of Linux: charge people for attending.

At a time when most business exhibitions are free to qualified visitors, the organisers, the XPO Group, is keen to exploit the growing interest in open source technology by gouging 15 quid out of every visitor. And that’s just for the exhibition. Delegates attending the conference will have to part with up to £65 per sessionfor the privilege - although, in fairness, that’s a reasonable offer by current prices. The event has also attracted some high-quality speakers, notably Linux luminary John 'Maddog' Hall.

There's a sharp contrast, however, with Microsoft. The software vendor is also holding an event in London next week but in keeping with the company’s new found eagerness towards an open source philosophy, it will be free of charge.

There’s one ray of sunshine for the Linux geeks though. Entrance to the exhibition will be free for under fives. We hope the organisers are on the lookout for buggies crammed with infants wearing long beards.