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It's a Linux World

Yours truly and other Linux aficionados will be in Boston next week for the love fest known as Linux World Conference and Expo.

This year's show is gearing up to represent the year of the ecosystem, as there won't be any major distribution announcements from the Linux heavies.

Red Hat released Fedora Core 5 last week and RHEL 5 is expected this summer. And Novell unveiled SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 last week and its community OpenSUSE distro just released beta 9 today.

On the community side, Gentoo is already out, and Debian Etch is still months away.

But there will be plenty of news.

Red Hat, which launched its flagship Red Hat Linux Enterprise 4 (RHEL) distribution at last year's show, is expected to make an announcement with Intel.

Novell, which has also used Linux World to launch its distributions and expound its views in keynote speeches, is expected to make a number of announcements on its own and with partners.

Linux has been more than just an OS for some time. And based on some of the initial buzz, one of the big themes out of the show this year will be virtualization.

Kevin Kettler, Dell CTO, will deliver a keynote about virtualization. A hardware guy talking about how to virtually replicate hardware. Go figure. Expect to see a whole lot of news early in the week on that topic.

Other issues on tap include GPL version 3 in a session hosted by advocate Eben Moglen. The proposed new GPL could have wide-ranging implications for Linux. But then again it might not be considering that Linux creator Linus Torvalds isn't exactly "enthusiastic" about the new license.

Open source backers of Linux implementations of J2EE will face off against .NET on Linux backers and, of course, there will be plenty of chatter about how the open source business model changes the rules for startups.

IBM, HP, Intel, AMD and Oracle will also be in Boston with news about how they continue to meet customer needs with Linux solutions. This LinuxWorld is also about more than just making money. The conference officially kicks off this year with a keynote from Nicholas Negroponte on the $100 laptop.

Negroponte is the chairman and co-founder of the MIT Media Lab and announced the $100 laptop initiative a year ago. With the help of a "free" operating system called Linux (likely Red Hat's Fedora Core at this point) the great digital divide between rich and poor may finally be bridged. And who knows, with $100 Linux powered notebooks, it really could be a Linux world one day.