As the LinuxWorld Turns

Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to get this funny feeling about LinuxWorld Expo. It seems like every time it's held, it receives a huge amount of media attention, and everyone always says the same things. Stuff like: "At this show it became clear that Linux is ready for prime time," or "The show made it clear that enterprise customers are finally starting to take Linux seriously."

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m starting to get this funny feeling about LinuxWorld Expo. It seems like every time it’s held, it receives a huge amount of media attention, and everyone always says the same things. Stuff like: “At this show it became clear that Linux is ready for prime time,” or “The show made it clear that enterprise customers are finally starting to take Linux seriously.”

So, why the “funny feeling?” Well, for one thing, the media has been saying things like “Linux is finally attracting enterprise customers” for years now. (How can Linux “finally” be doing something that it’s already been doing for quite some time?) And, because at some point, people are no longer going to be able to say things like that. Soon, Linux is just going to be considered a mainstream part of the IT infrastructure. In fact, you could make a strong argument that it’s already happening.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. I’m thrilled to see more money flowing into the Linux and Open Source markets. (And this money isn’t venture capital being plowed into corn-ball ideas and ridiculous companies. It’s revenue being generated by mainstream companies selling products based on Linux and Open Source.) But as the hype that has surrounded Linux for the past four years or so dies down, I think it’s extremely important that the newest members of the Linux community — the enterprise IT vendors — don’t allow themselves to forget Linux’s community roots.

Actually, in one specific case, I think it would be great if a particular enterprise vendor did a little more to learn about how the community works in the first place. That vendor is Microsoft, and to be fair, they’re trying. In case you weren’t there or didn’t know, this was the first LinuxWorld Expo that Microsoft had a presence at. They had a booth, and a bunch of Unix/Linux/Windows interoperability tools on display. And, they were all wearing shirts that said, “Let’s Talk.” So while I don’t expect to see a version of Microsoft Office for Linux any time soon, it was still very encouraging to see them in attendance at the show. (And no one threw any tomatoes or anything!)

I like to think that we here at Linux Magazine have done at least a little to help pave the way for all the companies that are coming to the Linux and Open Source parties. A year ago we went WAY out on a limb and ran some Microsoft ads that were among the first to ever appear in a Linux or Open Source publication. I got tons of mail telling me that I’d just sold out the magazine, and our editorial credibility was now trashed, etc. Now, a year later, Microsoft is taking yet another step towards becoming a real member of the Open Source community (although not really the Linux community), and it all feels sort of inevitable.

In fact, I’d say that “inevitable” is the best word I could use to describe LinuxWorld this year. Linux and Open Source are becoming inevitable forces in the world of IT. Personally, I’ve believed for a long time that the future of Linux and Open Source was to become a community made up not only of individuals, but also of corporations. One of our goals here at Linux Magazine is to get every company in high-tech into the Linux and Open Source pool. The show was a clear indication of that happening. So one more time all together now — let’s not forget where we came from.

See you next month,


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Adam M. Goodman


Editor & Publisher

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