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IBM: Open Source is More Than Just Linux

TORONTO -- Scott Handy says there's more to open standards and open source than just Linux. Handy, who is the vice president of worldwide Linux business strategy at IBM, delivered a keynote on the second day of LinuxWorld Canada.

In his remarks, he struck a similar tone as Novell's David Patrick did yesterday, noting how via numerous mechanisms being "open" is a force for innovation. He also discussed the common misconception that Linux is free (as in comes without cost).

"Linux is not really about being free, it's about freedom -- freedom to collaborate and innovate," Handy told the capacity crowd.

According to stats cited by Handy, the Linux server market in the last quarter reported its fifth consecutive quarter of revenues of over $1 billion.

"When I first began working in Linux, I was worried about the 2.2 kernel vs. the 2.4 kernel and now I worried about what can we do with Linux," Handy said. "How can we keep this growth rate going?

"While Linux is very fascinating, the open source model and some of the things we're actually doing with Linux are actually far more fascinating," he continued.

In particular, Handy noted how Linux was an enabling technology behind four of the top 10 supercomputers on the Top500 supercomputer list, including IBM's Blue Gene , the fastest computer in the world.

The key to Linux is of course the open source model, which is different from Handy's experience with Microsoft Windows, which is still a major partner of IBM's.

"With Windows, we are sharing the operating system, but we have no vote with what gets into every release," he said. "With Linux we do."

Handy also offered some words of wisdom on how to work with open standards in a way that both cooperates and competes with your competitors.

"You cooperate on the standard and compete on the implementation," Handy said.

While Handy's keynote was geared for the pro-Linux crowd, the media-only event that followed struck a conciliatory tone that spoke to IBM's overall multi-OS strategy. Handy joined IBM Canada executive Chris Pratt to note that Linux isn't for everyone.

"The use of Linux is, and should be, just another business decision," Pratt said. Pratt told the audience that the Canadian approach is to be more pragmatic as opposed to fanatical. He also said that the business case is the overriding factor for any Linux decision and business should not buy into hype and hope.