Tuesday At Linux World Conference & Expo

LinuxWorld Conference and Expo (LWCE) kicked off Tuesday with the Oracle keynote, given by Charles Phillips, President of Oracle. Phillips discussed the growth of Linux, why Oracle is putting resources into Linux, and the importance of Linux as a standard platform for ISVs. Phillips trotted out some impressive numbers during the Oracle keynote -- for example, that there are now more than 1,500 ISVs that support Oracle on Linux. What's more interesting, at least for the geeks in the audience, is that Oracle is releasing version 2 of the Oracle Cluster File System, and it will be distributed with the Linux kernel. Unfortunately, Phillips didn't really get into any of the details on the OCFS, but it is expected to turn up in the 2.6.14 release of the Linux kernel.

A few of the press conferences later in the day were somewhat more illuminating. From the Oracle talk, I headed over to the Novell press conference, where they discussed the OpenSUSE project, and made several other announcements of interest to the Linux community.

While news of OpenSUSE trickled out last week, the site was officially launched today — complete with downloads of SUSE 9.3 and the development release of OpenSUSE that will become SUSE 10. Right now, Novell is providing a bugzilla database for users to report bugs and is encouraging developers to submit patches and bug reports. The company does not yet have a public build server or version control system available to outside developers, but a public build server is scheduled for 2006.

Novell also made several other announcements at the press conference. The company was touting two customer wins at the show. The first is a deployment with Ritz Camera, which will be deploying Novell’s Linux Desktop in its 1,200 stores on its point-of-sale systems, and using ZENworks to provide updates and patch management. There is also a test deployment in Indiana public schools that could be the foot in the door that Linux needs to win big in the educational market.

The Indiana ACCESS (Affordable Computers for Every Secondary Student) initiative is doing a test run with 1,600 desktops with Novell Linux Desktop, which is a respectable number in and of itself. However, the program could lead to deployment to all secondary schools in Indiana, which would mean putting Linux in front of more than 300,000 high school students in the state of Indiana.

After the Novell press conference, I spoke to Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Novell’s Director of Marketing for Linux Servers and Desktops. Mancusi-Ungaro said that there are two main goals for OpenSUSE — raising the level of Linux use everywhere, making it available for end users and individuals who want to use it and succeed with Linux, and making it easier for developers to participate in SUSE development.

The difference between OpenSUSE and other projects, according to Mancusi-Ungaro, is that many distributions have an “inward focus,” where developers produce something mainly for their own consumption. Mancusi-Ungaro said that OpenSUSE is focusing “outward” to produce a usable distribution for “non-traditional” end users and not just developers.

He also said that Novell is ready, and eager, to see OpenSUSE derivative distributions. The OpenSUSE project should give users the ability, for example, to create a SPARC distribution or a customized distribution for specialty markets that SUSE doesn’t address as-is.

Right now, the OpenSUSE project is still in its infancy. Mancusi-Ungaro and other Novell execs said several times that the project is still getting started, and they’re looking to the community for some feedback on how it should move forward. I’m looking forward to seeing the project develop, and expect that it will really take off once Novell makes the build server and source repository available.

I also spent a good portion of the day following the DCC (Debian Common Core) Alliance project. The final line-up of companies and organizations behind the DCCA are Progeny, the Free Standards Group, Linspire, credativ, MEPIS, Sun Wah, UserLinux, Xandros, Knoppix and LinEx. The group plans to create a common core based on Debian that will serve as the basis for all of the members’ distributions. The group is also trying to “fill the gaps” so that vendors can support Debian more easily, by providing the pieces (LSB 3.0 compliance, for example) that Debian needs to move into the enterprise space.

I had a chance to spend a good chunk of time with members of the DCC Alliance yesterday and on Monday, talking to representatives from Xandros, MEPIS, Bruce Perens of UserLinux, Ian Murdock of Progeny, Jim Zemlin of the Free Standards Group, it’s pretty clear that this group has a much better chance of success than the UnitedLinux effort or the Linux Core Consortium. All of the members understand that there’s little to be gained by competing at the core distribution level — they each serve a different audience, and it makes a lot of sense to share the work in helping provide a standard distribution that ISVs can build on.

There should be a release of the DCCA “common core” sometime in September. There are a few things that the DCCA has that UnitedLinux and the LCC lacked. To begin with, the members share a common technology that will be easy to build on, and there’s no conflict of interest between the groups. The group is also moving forward quickly to put its “core” out there, rather than announcing an intent to work together with releases at some distant date. Murdock noted that the group is “more bottom up than top down,” by starting with the deliverables and then building the organization around it. In short, the group is working more like an open source project.

One conspicuous absence from the DCCA is Ubuntu. It didn’t seem likely that Ubuntu would be onboard, but I had held out some hope that Canonical/Ubuntu would decide to be part of the project by the time LWCE rolled around. No such luck. Still, it seems like the project has enough participation to reach critical mass and take Debian to the next level for business usage.

In short, there was too much to see and do in one day for me to hit it all, unfortunately. However, there’s more to come. I’ll have pictures from the show floor later today, as well as more news from LWCE.

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