RealTime IT News

Tux Takes Manhattan

Get ready for a more mature demonstration of Linux in the enterprise -- and on the desktop -- as the LinuxWorld Expo springs to life in New York City this week.

Although Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, is not expected to attend the conference and expo in New York's Javits Convention Center, the gathering will feature the biggest names in technology, all showing off their newest products geared for a more mature Linux operating system.

The expo is a showcase for technology players to demo their latest compatibility with the Linux kernel 2.6, released in December. The kernel was built for even bigger enterprise customers, but the missing link -- until now -- has been more enterprise announcements from major vendors about products exploiting its latest advances. Linux kernel 2.6 supports 64-bit computing and hyperthreading, has improved dual- and multi-processor network setups and is scalable up to 16 processors. Performance for database applications and networks with a limited amount of memory was improved, and there's increased security at the kernel level.

Novell CEO Jack Messman will kick off the expo on Wednesday with a keynote address. The address is Novell's latest opportunity to put more shine on its recent initiatives to embrace the open source operating system in its product lines.

Novell's recent closure of its $210 million acquisition of number two Linux distributor SUSE Linux came with news that Novell would indemnify its customers against potential intellectual property challenges to the SUSE Linux version. SCO Group claims some of the open source operating system code is derivative of Unix system.

Novell's embrace of Linux got the attention of Wall Street. In a December research note entitled "Back from the Dead," Merrill Lynch said its decision to initiate coverage of Novell was based in part on the company's emergence as a key player in the Linux market at a time of "sizable opportunity."

"Novell has re-emerged from virtual anonymity in the last year as a key player in the Linux market," the report said. But Novell is a "high-risk, high reward story that will take multiple years to play out," Merrill cautioned. "The company has significant execution challenges that it must overcome in order to be successful in its transition."

Novell is expected to make key announcements at the expo regarding its Nterprise Linux Services. The lines are part of its strategy to bring enterprise-class manageability to Linux, while breaking itself "free from the chains of its NetWare-centric mindset," as Merrill put it.

Novell also has some leverage with IBM investing $50 million in the company as part of Novell's acquisition of SuSe Linux.

Speaking of a big presence at the LinuxWorld Expo, Big Blue has already unveiled new features of its next-generation Universal Database, code-named "Stinger," that will help customers build better Linux clusters with support for version 2.6 of the Linux kernel. These features are expected to help IBM's database clusters scale higher and perform faster, as internetnews.com reported last week. One of these, DB2 Partition Advisor, can be used to split up and boost the performance of databases over many servers in just minutes instead of weeks.

IBM will unveil its 64-bit POWER platform at LinuxWorld. While IBM currently makes xSeries 64-bit platforms based on Intel chips, the 64-bit POWER platform is geared for demanding workloads like those in Linux clusters; it will be available in IBM pSeries and iSeries servers. Previews of DB2 support for POWER start on Wednesday.

Sun Microsystems officials are planning presentations about its Java Desktop System along with an x86 Systems "Chalk Talk" with Stuart Wells, senior vice president.

New companies with Linux strategies are making their debut at the show, which ends Friday, as well as announcing major alliances with Linux players. For example, InfiniCon Systems, which creates shared I/O and switching for server networks, is using the show to demonstrate its wares alongside Oracle. InfiniCon said its InfinIO technology is to be featured in a demonstration with industry standard Linux-based servers clustered together to run applications based upon Oracle's new 10g clustered database implementation.

Other keynote speakers include Dave Dargo, vice president in Oracle's Linux Program Office; Tom Killalea, vice president of infrastructure for Amazon.com; Sam Greenblatt, senior vice president with Computer Associates; Ross Mauri, general manager, e-Business on demand, IBM Systems Group; and Chris DiBona, vice president for marketing and co-founder of Konstrux Technologies.

The SCO/IBM suit over whether parts of Linux are derivative of the Unix operating system to which SCO Group claims copyright, is expected to a hot topic throughout the conference and expo, as well as Linux advocacy group Open Source Development Labs' (OSDL) works to bulk up a $3 million account it set up recently to defray the court costs incurred by Torvalds and other OSDL fellows subpoenaed by SCO.

And just in case you might have missed SCO Group's latest strike against Novell over what it calls "slander of title," or other developments about Linux, a leading open source advocate, Bruce Perens, is planning a press conference on the "Open Source State of the Union."