What's next for Linux?
Depending on whom you spoke with at the recent LinuxWorld conference in New
York City, the next frontier of Linux is either at the data center or on the
desktop. And as SCO ramped up litigation with a new copyright suit against
Novell last month, it's not surprising that licenses, intellectual property and
indemnification were also hot topics at the conference.
Open-source guru Eric Raymond argued during the event that desktops will gain
traction within 18 to 36 months, citing Novell's recent Ximian acquisition and
Sun's win of a contract with the Chinese government to install Java
According to Scott Handy, who directs Linux marketing for the IBM Software
Group, the prospects for Linux desktops are better than previous Microsoft
Office alternatives because they won't require the same 'forklift upgrades'
associated with thin clients. ''The reality is a mixed-mode where you can migrate
some apps to the desktop and others to the server, which Linux allows,'' he
''We want to encourage an application market for Linux on the desktop,'' added
Handy, who then qualified matters by saying that ''the server will remain the
most important market for Linux.'' Over the coming year, IBM is devoting most of
its push to 64-bit Power architecture blades supporting the iSeries and pSeries,
where IBM claims it can underprice Intel.
At the other end of the spectrum, several vendors at LinuxWorld announced new
or upgraded tools for managing Linux in the data center. Mountain View,
Calif.-based SteelEye Technology Inc. demonstrated wide-area disaster recovery
by failing over between dual IBM blade servers in its booth and IBM's on the
other side of the show floor.
Qluster, a new entrant, announced enterprise cluster management for Linux
that offers faster failover for systems using shared memory architectures.
BMC demonstrated dual products for managing multiple instances of Linux on a
mainframe. The dilemma, according to BMC Product Marketing Manager Jahjuan
Rogers, was trying to figure out which BMC product to port to Linux: the
MainView mainframe management product or the Patrol product line associated with
distributed Unix systems. In the end, BMC split the difference. Customers buying
BMC Linux management products will get copies of MainView and Patrol for Linux
in the same box.
Who says you can't have it both ways?
As for licensing, officials from start-up Black Duck Software Inc., Chestnut
Hill, Mass., outlined plans to bring out a tool that can be used to extend
software license management to open-source code in general. Borrowing a page
from antivirus vendors, the Black Duck technology searches for signatures of
open-source code and then alerts the customer as to the particular license that
might apply. The company claims to have identified nearly 75 such licenses.
According to Eric Raymond, the Black Duck approach may be overkill. ''The only
issue is whether the license supports The Open Source Definition,'' he said,
referring to the definition developed by colleague and Linux enthusiast Bruce
As this was a Linux conference, it's not surprising that those willing to go
on record were pretty dismissive of SCO's legal prospects. Perens dismissed
SCO's evidence as little more than file headers. ''The time is past where we
could hold these as honest errors,'' he said. ''No doubt what we're seeing from
SCO is software piracy that's fraudulent in nature.''
For more Linux news, go to ADT Linux Page.
Tony Baer is principal with onStrategies, a New York-based consulting firm, and editor of Computer Finance, a monthly journal on IT economics. He can be reached via
e-mail at email@example.com.