LinuxWorld: It'll Make Your Head Spin

Reporter's Notebook: Debian shines, Red Hat's a no-show, Raymond rants and what's old is new again
As I predicted recently, the LinuxWorld show here last week had a few surprises.

And it had its share of same old, same old.

The announcement that HP (Quote, Chart) would formally and fully support Debian kicked off the week.

It's a revelation that will fundamentally change the enterprise Linux landscape in a significant way.

No longer are there only two top-line-supported enterprise distros for HP. It will be interesting to see whether IBM or Dell follow suit on either Debian or another community distro.

The world's largest and most profitable Linux vendor, Red Hat (Quote, Chart), did not exhibit, which was the biggest question mark that I heard at the show.

Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens told me that he had trouble with the show floor and that it hurt his head trying to figure out what was new.

It's an argument that I'd be hard pressed to disagree with.

I might even extend Stevens' argument and say it was hard to tell what, if anything, was new in any of the keynotes or press conferences.

The opening keynote, delivered by Professor Lawrence Lessig, was similar to one that my colleague David Needle saw Lessig deliver earlier this year.

Motorola delivered a keynote about mobile Linux that was similar to a discussion I had with a Motorola executive earlier this year.

Intel delivered a keynote about Grid computing that was neither new nor novel.

Novell (Quote, Chart) had a press conference to trot out their market start partners and talk about how wonderful their new SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 is.

Considering that the software came out nearly a month ago, I'm not sure what the news was.

IBM (Quote, Chart) had a press conference immediately after Novell where it announced it would now have a multi-pronged strategy to support open source beyond just Linux.

Considering that IBM has long been a supporter of three of the most significant open source efforts on the planet in Eclipse, Apache and Mozilla, I'm not sure that what they had to say constituted anything really new.

Sun held a press conference, which I attended with another colleague, Andy Patrizio. It was, for me, an exercise in futility. Sun revealed nothing particularly new, though the assembled throng of journalists was madly tapping away at their keyboards.

Once again Sun tried to blindside the Linux community with its open source Java talk. Apparently it's planning to open source it. Go figure.

Speaking of Java vs. open source programming approaches, I was highly anticipating Round 2 of the battle royale panel discussion of J2EE vs. .NET/Mono vs. LAMP, which was a highlight of the Boston event for me.

In San Francisco, though, a funny thing happened. Or, rather, didn't happen.

Two of the three listed speakers, Miguel DeIcaza of Novell (talking about .NET) and Marc Fleury of JBoss (talking about Java), didn't show up.

So Peter Yared of enterprise LAMP vendor ActiveGrid was left to argue with himself why LAMP is the best.

I guess that kinda means that .NET and Java conceded defeat to LAMP.

There were, however, some downright amazing sessions. The 15 years of Linux panel was insightful and interesting.

I've been using Linux for nearly a decade myself but to hear Maddog Hall and Dirk Hohndel talk about meeting Linus in the early 90s and using the first versions of Linux was a real treat.

It was also quite cool to see Eric Raymond rant about how the Linux community needs to do whatever it takes to win the desktop.

Google's Chris DiBona's session on open source licensing went 30 minutes over its allotted time. Not so much because DiBona had a long presentation, but more so because of the thoughtful and engaging discussion period.

Linux kernel luminary Greg Kroah-Hartman delivered an engaging discussion about how kernel development actually occurs.

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