I've just returned from Linux World in New York, and besides a mild case of jet lag and frostbite, I'm back in the swing of things, trying to herd 50,000 words into something resembling a magazine. (Drop me a line and rate my wrangling skills.) And, in addition to recovering from my trip to the Big City, I'm also trying to form an opinion on this most recent Linux World. Everyone asks, "How was the show?" and, to be honest, I'm not sure what to say.
I’ve just returned from Linux World in New York, and besides a mild case of jet lag and frostbite, I’m back in the swing of things, trying to herd 50,000 words into something resembling a magazine. (Drop me a line and rate my wrangling skills.) And, in addition to recovering from my trip to the Big City, I’m also trying to form an opinion on this most recent Linux World. Everyone asks, “How was the show?” and, to be honest, I’m not sure what to say.
To be clear, the show was not bad. Not at all. Attendance seemed strong and there was a healthy variety of exhibitors, ranging from small companies in the penguin rookery, to goliaths IBM and Microsoft. (Yes, Microsoft booked their exhibit space early enough to waddle out from the rookery on to the main show floor.)
So, why am I having such a hard time describing the show? Probably because the show represented so many interests. If you were curious about Linux — and plenty of the attendees walking the floor were — you could shop for books, kick the tires, play “Dance Dance Revolution” on a Linux box, and find a neighborhood LUG to act as your support group as you convert to one of the faithful. On the other hand, if you were already Linux-adept, you could attend the many technical sessions, kick the tires, play “Dance Dance Revolution” on a Linux box, and poke fun at the folks with laptops running Windows or Mac OS X (showing some impartiality). And if you were in the market for equipment, software, or services, you could find products galore, too. There was no shortage of new products.
Computer Associates continues to move their products to Linux. Dell and SGI had a strong presence — reflecting the trend that Open Source software is moving more and more hardware, be it commodity or proprietary. IBM had an impressive Linux line-up. NEC showed a fault-tolerant Linux machine (which we’ll review for you shortly), and Hitachi (privately) showed a ruggedized, wireless, Linux-based tablet computer that I wanted (OK, tried) to put in my briefcase (we’ll try to show the tablet to you, too). Other companies showed kernel debuggers, spam filters, and network monitors, among other products.
So, what do I make of all of that? A few things. First, Linux is now a real operating system. Each of the hardware vendors, even Sun, have a Linux strategy. Next, Linux clusters, composed of cheap hardware and Open Source software, are quickly replacing expensive, proprietary servers. Closely related, Linux is now a viable alternative for enterprise systems. So say the CIOs. Next, companies that can offer end-to-end solutions will do well with Linux. (HP said it earned $2 billion dollars from Linux in 2002. IBM stated it earned $1 billion from Linux in the same period.) And, lastly, there’s going to be a lot of carnage. Companies that don’t grok Linux and don’t (or fail to) add value are history.
I remain concerned about the distros, am curious to see what Sun does, and believe that Redmond is in control of its own destiny. Linux is a threat, but how Redmond manages its next two releases of Windows — one this year and a more significant release next year, an especially important one for Windows developers — will have more affect on the industry than anything else.
So, we do indeed live in interesting times, as the Linux World turns.
Martin Streicher, Editor