Editor's Note: The Focus of LinuxWorld
Feb 11, 2005, 23:30 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Brian Proffitt
Having returned from the OSDL Enterprise Linux Summit last week,
I am about to embark on another trip to another coast for this
winter's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.
I am not sure whose bright idea it was to schedule LinuxWorld on
Valentine's Day, but I must register my complaint publicly. Just
because we're geeks, IDG, doesn't mean we don't have love lives.
With a wife and two daughters, let me tell you, I am in serious
trouble here in the Proffitt household. Next year, let's be a
little more sensitive, shall we?
Anyway, last week's OSDL Summit was a pretty small show,
compared to the gargantuan LinuxWorld events, whenever they're
held. But, since many of the sessions were concentrated on kernel
development and legal issues, the Summit's impact was not so out of
scale. Still, let's face it, LinuxWorld is the show for
the Linux community, and will have lasting impact on the business
and development worlds long after the booths close.
This is nothing new, and you certainly don't need me telling you
what we all know, right?
Except... there's some companies that don't seem to know what
LinuxWorld is about.
First, there's Sun Microsystems. They will have a very large
presence at the show, as usual, and they will be showing off some
cool stuff. Some of it even Linux related. But at the trade shows,
the real action for a company occurs during the private one on one
meetings with potential customers and partners. And I can't help
but wonder how many of those meetings will focus more on
OpenSolaris than Linux.
It will depend, of course, on how Sun reacts to the criticism
that is sure to be launched at them at the show. Privately, quite a
few industry players have expressed wonder at Sun's new plans for
Solaris, with attitudes ranging from "why bother?" to "who cares?"
Nobody seems too concerned about Sun's new tack, mostly because
they think it's too little, too late. It doesn't help that Sun is
consistently inconsistent with their message. They are trying to
keep their balance between Linux and OpenSolaris in a very
politically correct manner, and thus far their balance is coming
off as "mixed up."
Case in point: this week's blog from Jonathan Schwartz was an
open letter to the president of Brazil. I can't read Portuguese,
but Babelfish can, and even without a translation, it's easy to see
OpenSolaris, Solaris, and Linux all mentioned in the same
Seriously, I don't think anyone blames Sun for trying to sell
their own OS. It's just they keep denying it's a priority. IBM did
the same thing with AIX, but for some reason, no one had any
trouble believing them. Maybe it's because IBM had a single message
that they consistently drilled into everyone's heads.
Sun's message is still relatively unclear and they are about to
pay the price, as company after company is going to pick apart
their recent announcements one by one. And by the way, that whole
"we like Linux, but not Red Hat" argument? That one ain't
Another company whose motivation is starting to confuse me of
late is Computer Associates. Last year, their release of the Ingres
database seemed very positive step for open source. But their
stance on Linux itself seems to be pulling back from their past
commitment. It's subtle, but statements like this from CA's CTO and
Sr. VP Yogesh Gupta seem to indicate a small shift in their focus:
"LinuxWorld is not just about Linux, but about the way open source
solutions can be integrated into enterprise IT infrastructures and
That statement was made in a
recent interview Gupta had with TechTarget, and it is not
incorrect. But the emphasis seems a little off, especially coming
from Gupta, who, like his colleague Sam Greenblatt, is usually a
very outspoken proponent of Linux.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying to broaden the
scope of your business, especially from a middleware company like
CA, who needs to work with many operating systems, not just
But sources within CA have expressed some concerns with the
Linux Standards Base of late. The Free Standards Group has strongly
downplayed these concerns, citing them as a normal part of the
standards acceptance process. Also, CA has an alliance partnership
with Sun, and many here have speculated that Sun's new database
offering will be Ingres-based.
All of these little flags, which are innocuous by themselves,
makes me wonder if CA will be among the first of the major players
to announce their commitment to work with OpenSolaris.
Again, this is not mean that CA's commitment to Linux will
necessarily fade. CA's position in the market dictates they work
with as many systems as they can. And joining the Linux Club does
not mean you can't join others.
Which now begs the question, has LinuxWorld become the event for
All Things Free and Open Source? In a way, it already has, since
BSD and other free software projects have been coming for years.
But will it become officially more inclusive? Will we see an
OpenSourceWorld that has OpenSolaris and Darwin products featured
along with Linux?
Personally, I hope not. I think that at the end of the day,
Linux needs a trade show where it can stand on its own and display
its own strengths and weaknesses without any interference from the
other open source operating systems. While diversity is good for
all open source projects on the development level, I am not sure
that so much diversity in a commercial setting like LinuxWorld
would be a great idea.
LinuxWorld should keep its current balance, which is about 85
percent Linux and 15 percent everything else, give or take. Of
course, my opinion will matter little if the market decides
I just hope the market does not get bamboozled into thinking
that all things Open Source are good for Linux.