Originally Published: Wednesday, 2 February 2000 Author: Jeff Alami
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

LinuxWorld Conference and Expo: Day 1

It's an exciting time to be in the Linux community. Just when you think the excitement is at a plateau, events such as LinuxWorld Conference & Expo turn up the heat again. The Third LinuxWorld is being held place February 1-4 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. LinuxWorld features a multitude of exhibitors, a .org pavilion for Linux community projects, keynotes from Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin of VA Linux Systems, and Steve Mills of IBM, and a barrage of Linux conferences and tutorials....

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It's an exciting time to be in the Linux community. Just when you think the excitement is at a plateau, events such as LinuxWorld Conference & Expo turn up the heat again. The Third LinuxWorld is being held place February 1-4 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. LinuxWorld features a multitude of exhibitors, a .org pavilion for Linux community projects, keynotes from Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin of VA Linux Systems, and Steve Mills of IBM, and a barrage of Linux conferences and tutorials.

Before the exhibit floor opened, a rather large line was forming at the convention center. This line was for the Linus Torvalds keynote today at 9:30am. Complete with balcony room and overflow space with a screen, the keynote area was ready for a veritable ocean of interested people. The keynote revolved around a few of the common questions Linus has been asked. These include the question about fragmentation, commercialism in the Linux community, and the upcoming version 2.4 release of the Linux kernel.

Linus began discussing the fragmentation by saying that he thought fragmentation was a good thing, to some degree. Linux has the chance to succeed in practically any market -- from supercomputers to embedded systems. Different needs and different users need different software. For example, internationalization is a form of fragmentation. What you need to avoid is, to use a Quake term, the "frag" in fragmentation; that is, in-fighting and "religious" issues. Developers remember the dark side of fragmentation, especially with UNIX. The advantage that Linux has is that Open Source software is inherently avert to fragmentation.

The commercialism of Linux is also a common issue with all the recent Linux-related IPO's. What happens to the technical community now that Linux is commercialized? Linus tempered the argument by pointing out that most companies aren't evil, and that they tend to have the same values that the non-commercial technical community has. The difference is how commercial and community interests look at the software. The technical community tends to cater to itself, and is prone to forget the user experience. Commercial interests are all about the user experience; these companies are more interested in the product than the technology, and this benefits everyone.

As for the new kernel, Linus predicted that Linux 2.4 will be available within a few months. Some of the new features include enhanced multi-processing, new architectures, better support for mobile systems, and most importantly, better 3-D acceleration with the kernel patches for DRI (Direct Rendering Infrastructure). With Linux 2.4 and the DRI-enabled XFree86 4.0, we will see significantly better performance in CAD applications (read: games) and will enhance our productivity (read: fun). If 2.4 is available on time, we should be seeing distributions with the new kernel by summer.

After Linus Torvald's speech, the exhibits opened to the masses. The .org pavilion was particularly impressive, boasting the most well-known members of the Linux community, including the Free Software Foundation, Debian, and Linux International. The usual big companies had their big booths, including VA Linux Systems, Red Hat, SuSE, Caldera Systems, and Linuxcare.

After checking out the booths I caught up with Kelly Harrell, VP of Marketing for Cobalt Networks. Cobalt is a well-known Linux company, providing application-specific network appliances running Linux. Cobalt aims to meet the online presence needs of the "Fortune 5,000,000," that is, small companies, schools, and home offices. These customers have far less money and less specific computer skills than the Fortune 500, and Cobalt tries to meet their needs by providing low-priced, easy to use appliances to provide network services. Cobalt's strength is mostly in its software expertise; a large percentage of their engineers are actually software developers.

After that, I met Bonnie Crater, CEO, and Rob Ferber, co-founder, of OpenSales.com. OpenSales.com is working on a completely open source (as in GPL) e-commerce solution called OpenMerchant. OpenMerchant is primarily a business-to-consumer solution (as opposed to business-to-business, or b2b). OpenSales.com intends to make its living by providing their e-commerce development and consulting expertise to provide solutions for Internet companies needing e-commerce.

Several announcements were made today. One of the most important ones was the code release for the Linux kernel on the IA-64 (Itanium) architecture. This means that Linux is the first OS to support the IA-64. The most interesting aspect of this announcement is the fact that the IA-64 isn't even out yet. Another announcement is Atipa Linux Solutions' acquisition of Enhanced Software Technologies, the makers of the popular BRU backup application for Linux. This marks Atipa's first major move into the software world.

Jeff Alami (jeff@linux.com) hasn't had any sleep in the last two days. How can he? The Linux phenomenon is just too exciting.





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