LinuxWorld San Francisco Highlights

Linux / Open Source
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This round of the LinuxWorld Expo was held in San Francisco on August 14–17, 2006. What could be a better way to say "Happy Birthday, Linux" than to have the Linux OS turn 15 years old during the conference, with 10,000 attendees present? Major visitors to the conference included IBM, Novell, and Motorola, but Red Hat was found to be missing.

Virtualization Is Still Big News

With virtualization technology gaining ground in the industry, much of the talk surrounding the controversy circled around deploying virtualization into solid business models. A panel conducted to specifically address this topic included folks from IBM, Intel, AMD, and Virtual Iron Software. The talks covered virtualization management tools based upon the well-known Xen hypervisor. Although deployment of virtualization is rising at a rapid rate in data centers, much worry falls upon how to manage a large amount of virtual images on machines, which is inhibiting more companies from using virtualization in their businesses.

Many data centers are concerned about how difficult managing virtual machines could become without utilities and tools being incorporated into the virtual technology itself. Until such time, many enterprises are asking questions. Steven McDowell, division manager for emerging technologies at AMD had the following to say: "We're rapidly approaching a state where the hypervisor is commoditized; it's just a given. The question is, how do I manage these virtual servers?"

Two major management advancements will be the addition of automation and the ability to move software among the virtual resources themselves. Even though integrating virtualization into the enterprise level still raises many questions, Novell has already included Xen into SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, and Red Hat has stated that Xen will be included in the next Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 release. Also, VMware is in the middle of testing its beta software, Virtual Iron, within Infrastructure 3. This concentrates on adding the tools necessary to manage enterprise-level virtual environments.

Where Was Red Hat?

A big disappointment to many attendees was the absence of the Red Hat exhibit. In previous years, Red Hat has been a huge presence at the LinuxWorld event, but this year Red Hat was nowhere to be found. Red Hat fans should not fret though, as Red Hat's lack of participation wasn't meant to raise alarms. Red Hat addressed the concern of the crowds with an explanation of its participation through alternate avenues. As partnerships continue to grow between Red Hat and huge corporations like IBM and Dell, Red Hat had contributors located in other booths to assist in the promotion of open-source software.

Although Red Hat wasn't present, the Fedora project (sponsored by Red Hat) was in active attendance at LinuxWorld. Brian Stevens, Red Hat's vice president of engineering and CTO, was quoted as saying, "I think we're bringing a stronger message of collaboration than just doing a Red Hat marketing show." This is taken as meaning that Red Hat is contributing to the open-source movement through much bigger means, such as channeling promotion through key players like IBM. Stevens was seen perusing the tradeshow floor.

Novell's a Big Hit

Novell can walk away from this LinuxWorld with its head held high, for the company won not one, but two awards during its attendance. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 won both Best of Show and Best Desktop Solution. A very happy vice president of desktop engineering Nat Friedman had this to say about receiving the awards: "The creativity and hard work of our engineering team at Novell and our friends in the community have created a desktop that combines cool features with business sensibilities."

Some of the new features of Version 10 include integrated search enhancements, better plug-and-play capabilities, improved graphics and desktop appearances, and the addition of 2.0, which is noted as being a Novell edition. This version aims to provide features for basic office use for workstation users and thin-client deployments. Also included in the new release is the up-and-coming AppArmor application. AppArmor provides application-level securities to protect the systems.

IBM Aims High

Everyone keeping up-to-date on Linux news already knows IBM is a major part of pushing open-source software solutions. IBM stated plans to launch many new open-source ideas, eight to be exact, to promote open-source adoption to a new customer base. The company also announced plans geared toward new work in the Linux kernel, virtualization, security, and cell processor environments.

Now that IBM has successfully built a Linux business model, the company seeks market opportunity with new solutions through the use of Linux, Apache, and Eclipse. The new business approach includes client-side middleware, development tools, Web application servers, data servers, systems management, open-hardware architecture, grid computing, and development with IBM Research. With more than 40 locations around the globe and 600 engineers dedicated to the new advancement, this should provide IBM's Linux Technology Center with an innovation force to develop new and exciting open-source solutions for the industry to share.

Linux on the Mobile Platform

A surprise to many LinuxWorld attendees included much news about the use of Linux on the mobile platform—specifically, cell phones. Keynote speaker Greg Besio, vice president of Motorola mobile device software, made a statement that Linux will power over half the phones they plan to ship over the next few years. Besio expects Linux to pass the current leader in market share of mobile phone software, Symbian, within four years.

Other phone news includes Trolltech's announcement of the Linux-based Greenphone. This phone is based upon Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition software. European phone corporation Orange Telecom is planning on a new Linux-based solution for its mobile phone line. PalmSource has announced it is planning on releasing a new file system it is credited in developing based on SQL (libsqlfs), which is directly related to the Access Linux Platform, which PalmSource developed for its mobile platform.

Linux is appearing to step up quite nicely to the world of mobile solutions, and LinuxWorld provided a huge audience to which vendors could demonstrate some very new technologies based around open standards. This should help quell the naysayers of Linux growth on mobile platforms.

Happy Birthday, Tux!

Again, I'd like to wish Linux a big happy birthday as it turns 15 years old. LinuxWorld provided yet another salute to the power of open-source technology in the IT industry and offered a nice birthday bash to the proud little penguin.

Max Hetrick is a PC Support Analyst/Specialist who holds a certification as an MCSA. He also has experience with installation and maintenance of Linux operating systems from the PC to server levels. Max can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..