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Novell: Linux Is an Innovation Driver

TORONTO -- Linux and open source technologies are more than just clones of existing applications -- they drive innovation, the chief Linux czar for Novell said today.

During a keynote address at the LinuxWorld conference here, David Patrick, general manager of Linux, Open Source Platforms and Services for Novell, said the current open source ecosystem is like the early days of open source funding some years' back, and a key area where innovation unfolds.

"Ximian was an early venture application company in open source and we were funded four years ago. And at that time, we were one of the few companies that were venture funded for Linux," Patrick said. "Today I'm happy to say that VC's are pouring wads of dollars into Linux and open source. There are 30 some startups, most of them funded in the last year."

The keynote theme, which actually traced Linux and Novell's participation across the entire open source ecosystem, stood in contrast to last year's theme, which featured Ximian co-founder Nat Friedman talking up the Linux desktop.

In Patrick's view, Linux and open source software offers more than just "cloned features" of what already exist. In particular, he said he sees collaboration as an area where open source helps lead innovation. He highlighted Nat Friedman's Beagle project, which aims to be a unified desktop search and management utility.

Patrick took over the top Linux spot after the departure of Chris Stone, who is credited with formulating Novell's original Linux strategy and orchestrating the acquisitions of SUSE and Ximian.

He also cited Novell's open source Hula Project as a project that is leading with innovation. "There is no Apache of the collaboration space," Patrick said, referring to the Apache HTTP servers' position as the dominant server in the market today.

Hula is not based on Novell's own Groupwise collaboration server, which Patrick said was not a good candidate for an open source project. Instead, he added, it's based on Novell's Netmail application and aims to bring open standards to the groupware space.

One issue for collaboration development today is calendar sharing across different environments. He said that's something the calDAV standard currently underway in Hula hopes to solve. "The goal is to be able to have a supportable standard," he said.

Patrick also listed off what he called success criteria for Linux in the data center: security management, virtualization, high availability storage and application infrastructure.

The Novell GM of Linux also tweaked Microsoft's anti-Linux campaign, which Patrick described as "FUD" .

Point for point on security, total cost of ownership, indemnification, third party software support and product support Linux meets the challenge, he claimed.

"Linux and open source are now backed by almost all the leading IT vendors except, for example, maybe one," Patrick said.

LinuxWorld Canada last year was known as RealWorld Linux, but has since been acquired by IDG (via IT World Expo Canada which is owned by IDG World Expo and IT World Canada).

It is the largest Open Source Linux show in Canada and according to LinuxWorld Canada spokesperson Stephanie Cole registrations this year are up by 50 percent over last year.