Linux

LinuxWorld Expo take three, or Linux geeks just wanna have fun

In his third and final report on LinuxWorld Expo, Jack Wallen, Jr. examines the competition and reveals just how "corporate" Linux has become.

In “LinuxWorld Expo: Smell the Success!” and ”Welcome to the Real World: LinuxWorld Expo continued,” we saw the progression from the hackerfest in Durham to the unsure New York expo all the way to the corporate extravaganza that is the fourth annual LinuxWorld Expo in San Jose. In my third and final report, I’ll take a look at what the competition is like and just how “corporate” Linux has become.

Flashback—the evening of day two
I've always poked fun at geeks. Since I’m a geek, I've always allowed myself that pleasure. It's certainly okay, when you're part of the crowd, to toss off some good-natured ribbing. Well, Wednesday night the stage was primed for such jestering. On the second official night of the San Jose LinuxWorld Expo, the good folks at MandrakeSoft threw it down and ended up with one heck of a good time on their hands.

Let me set the stage for you. The club was a retro ‘70s and ‘80s club, where the faces of Boy George, Billy Idol, and the Bee Gees adorned the walls, and the music was pure flashback—ranging from the funk of Rick James to the cute-pop of Cindy Lauper.

And just where do the geeks fit in? Believe it or not, right smack-dab in the middle of the dance floor! Although it seemed as if the party was going to be a total wash, eventually the dance floor was packed and the drinks were flowing. Geeks were dancing, the music was pumping, and, for all intents and purposes, I was having a normal “night on the town.”

Well… until the new CEO of MandrakeSoft came out onto the scene dressed in a hot pink pirate shirt and a sport coat that looked more like a screen saver than an article of clothing. At this point, the music stopped and things turned back to Linux.

Partius Interruptus!

Anyway...

The party kicked back in and around 11:30 P.M. came to a slow, painful close. A bit early for a party to end, but, hey, geeks need their beauty sleep—either that or they all had this desperate need to hit their keyboards and code!

Enough with the frivolity! On with day three
The first event for day three was the announcement that Mission Critical Linux was releasing its Convolo Cluster solution for Linux on the IA-64 architecture. This clustering solution sounds like an enterprise-level IT administrator’s dream. With the combination of the IA-64 architecture and the Linux clustering solution, enterprise-level administrators will have a cost-effective, highly efficient solution for large computational needs.

This same company holds a few other very interesting open source offerings for the IT community. The first of these offerings is its Mission Critical Linux Support for SGI Linux systems. With the promise of 24/7 monitoring coverage and on-site response time of “two hours or less,” Mission Critical is taking Linux support 12 steps further.

To date, one of the biggest criticisms of Linux has been a lack of support for the business/enterprise level. Here at the fourth annual San Jose LinuxWorld Expo, we're seeing a drastic shift in that paradigm. With companies like Mission Critical Linux offering such rapid support solutions, high-availability ASP solutions, and the aforementioned Convolo Cluster solutions, it's simple to deduce that Linux is on the cusp of taking over (at least) the back end of enterprise-level computing.

More enterprise than Captain Kirk ever dared dream!
It was obvious that the primary push for this expo was toward the enterprise level. By far the most prevalent technology in attendance was high availability and clustering technology. Companies such as IBM, VA Linux, Compaq, and SGI were all present, showering the Linux community with high-end, large-scale Linux solutions. It was surely a sigh of relief for enterprise-level IT administrators looking for rock-solid solutions for mission-critical needs.

Some of the other notable offerings at LinuxWorld Expo follow:

VistaSource

The creators of the long-standing Linux Office Suite, Applixware, were showing a newer, fresher face. Within the next few months, the Applixware Office Suite will be making a drastic shift to the server-based application model as well as a rename to Anyware. The demo of this application was actually quite slick and promised all the functionality of the current suite of tools but with a “server client” interface relying heavily on Java.

My biggest concern regarding this shift was not getting a straight answer regarding the current Applixware offering. Will it remain a standard among the Linux community, or will it become a corporate-only application? This would be a shame, seeing as how Applixware is, by far, the most reliable, interoperable suite available for the Linux OS.

While speaking to the VistaSource staff, I was finally able to pry out of them that they are not sure whether the company will continue to have a retail presence once Anyware is available. Please, VistaSource, if you're reading this, do the Linux community a huge favor and don't pull retail support for your fabulous product and don't forsake your current model! To lose Applixware, as it currently stands, would be a shame.

Although the new Anyware product could possibly herald the end of the current Applixware product, the new “thin client” application could easily become the standard for enterprise-level Office suite needs. With the stability and security of the Linux platform and the advantage of the server-based application, Anyware could stand to overcome the Redmond hurdle to reach those mid- to large-scale businesses with a sharp eye for what's truly the most cost-effective solution.

Appgen

Appgen is the maker of one of the most powerful accounting and billing software packages available to Linux. With all the functionality anyone in accounting has come to rely on, Appgen could possibly set the standard for the Linux-based accounting/billing process.

As demo'd, Appgen’s software was solid and very flexible. And with the announcement of its partnership with the fledgling, Java-based Money-Dance (a highly versatile and flexible money management software), Appgen looks to fill a niche in the Linux community.

3dfx

3dfx is supporting Linux and doing it hard and fast. This company has finally realized the power of the Linux market and is now frantically working to supply support for its 3D video cards to the Linux community. 3dfx is making a very obvious attempt to support the OS—even to the point of recruiting “Linux gurus” for hire at the expo! A good sign, no?

Of course, the video card maker has little choice but to support the Linux community. Walking around the exhibit floor, I saw that the popularity (and necessity) of 3D video support had grown exponentially. Everywhere you looked there was a monitor rendering 3D images in one shape or another. Be it games, video presentations, multimedia packages, or graphics, the Linux 3D market has matured a great deal in the last year alone.

SuSE Linux

SuSE had probably one of the proudest moments of the expo when it announced its partnership with IBM. Within the European market, IBM is finally supporting its entire range of hardware for Linux. Yes, George, this includes the Netfinity line of servers as well as the RS6000 and OS/390 OSs. This announcement followed the company’s recent announcement of the ThinkPad series being shipped (and fully supported) with Linux.

In addition, the IBM/SuSE partnership is bent on supporting the continuing work on the Linux Journaling File System, logicalized volume managers, offering 24/7 mission-critical support, and Linux e-business solutions.

This was not just a monumental announcement of a high-impact partnership but a milestone for SuSE Linux. Along with this announcement comes the birth of SuSE 7.0, which will finally be split into two separate offerings: Professional and Personal. The major differences in products will be in application packages and optimizations. Obviously, the Professional edition will be optimized for such services as e-commerce and the Journaling File System.

Lotus

Although wrapped around a pretty Red Hat package, Lotus had a minor presence with its Domino and Notes package. This application is well known for many reasons, most notably for longevity and stability. Even though Lotus already offers a full-fledged server, the Linux client hopefuls will only have to keep dreaming. The best Lotus is going to do is the Web-based interface.

The Web-based interface with Notes is not all too shabby, mind you. The only major features it will be missing will be the ability to add new users and some of the more advanced administration tools. You’ll be able to administer these functions, however, through a Windows 32 client (so much for a complete takeover).

Digital Factory

Digital Factory is bringing out the latest Linux Distribution in Kondara Linux. What is unique about this is that it is a totally multilingual OS. Without a single configuration change, you can switch from English to Japanese to French to German, and so on. Imagine the impact this would have to serious business travel! Imagine having your laptop readable by nearly every country you visit on precious corporate time.

Not only is DF putting out the multilingual OS, it is also offering a very powerful server-optimized OS that includes the same multilingual capabilities, the latest server-optimized kernel. The only drawback to this server OS is that it doesn't look e-commerce ready (although, like all good Linux OSs, it could be made so).

ASP Technologies

Now it's time for the true geeks and hardcore log mongers to stand up and take a look. ASP and its Vantage Console Access Technology enables IT professionals to manage a wide variety of computer systems, applications software, and communications devices from a single seat. VCAT will log any and every console action/command/input/output you can imagine.

Some of the advantages of this application include:
  • Routine tasks performed by operators may be automated through rules-based and time-based scheduling.
  • Vantage peer-to-peer and remote access features enable support personnel to troubleshoot problems, perform diagnostic procedures, and even reboot.
  • Resources are available from a remote Vantage workstation, dial-up, or other networked locations.
  • Vantage performs all of its activities on the host workstation and remains outboard, requiring no proprietary agent software to be installed on computing resources.
  • Vantage logs all trapped events and can be configured to log entire console streams.
  • Vantage consolidates control of a large number of systems and other resources to a single workstation.
  • You can connect to and control a wide variety of systems and other devices (for example, routers, PBXs, environmental units, and terminal servers).
  • Vantage provides console-level remote access to managed systems and devices.
  • You don’t need to add agent software for managed systems and resources.
  • There’s no processing overhead on managed resources.
  • Out-of-band techniques relieve production networks of management chatter.
  • Peer-to-peer cooperation between management nodes enables transfer of resource control between management workstations.
  • Vantage monitors console traffic in real time.
  • Vantage offers a familiar control interface for the operations and administration staff to the managed resources.
  • There’s a flexible event and response definition for comprehensive alert and alarms notification.

This seemingly innocent tool could quite possibly save you thousand upon thousands of dollars in hardware and downtime, with the ability to log more than most other systems even dare attempt—in either a GUI or console fashion!

LinuxWizardry

This new company is an enterprise-level software/hardware developer and manufacturer whose primary focus is router technology for the small to midsized business. LW claims to have created the easiest router to use... ever. Is it true? Judging from the company’s demos, it may just be.

The LW technology is totally reliant on a Web interface that can be run from any Java-enabled browser (so it's OS unspecific), and it’s completely drag and drop! A Linux-based router for the masses? Looks like it just may be.

Is that it?
The above list is just a sample of some of the lesser known representatives attending the fourth annual LinuxWorld Expo. Of course, there were many more—so many, in fact, that over 20 companies had to be turned away due to lack of space. From the biggest establishment to the smallest start-ups, nearly every possible technology was covered—and with aplomb.

Let's head home
Well, it's over. The fourth annual LinuxWorld Expo has come to its sad conclusion, and the overall feeling is that of total success. Of all the expos I've attended, this had to be the biggest, most positive, and exciting mother of them all! From announcements of the huge partnerships to the smaller joint efforts, every aspect of Linux and its community is showing the signs of a true maturity that is acceptable within all levels of the industry.

I've been a Linux evangelist for a good long time now. I've been professing my grandiose dreams that, one day, Linux would be a major player in the game of IT. Well, ladies and gents, my prediction is coming true! The giants are playing hardball with the penguin, and the deals are getting bigger and bigger.

We have been accepted, you have been assimilated, and the rock stars are heading for the dressing room!

Jack Wallen, Jr. is editor in chief of Linux content. Jack was thrown out of the "Window" back in 1995 when he grew tired of the "blue screen of death" and realized that "computing does not equal rebooting." Prior to Jack's headfirst dive into the computer industry, he was a professional actor with film, TV, and Broadway credits. Now Jack is content with his new position of Linux Evangelist. Ladies and gentlemen—the poster boy for the Linux Generation!

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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