Novell is in the midst of moving its entire staff from Windows to Linux desktops, a process which the company is approaching as research as much as anything else. Kavanagh said virtually everyone in the company has now shifted to OpenOffice.orga significant stepand a significant portion, if not all, of EMEA staff are expected to be on Linux by the end of the year. "Once people have moved to OpenOffice, youve addressed a big part of the problem, since the office environment is where most of the time is spent," Kavanagh said. "Once youve done that, its less of an issue to move users to NLD."Novells chief rival in the enterprise Linux space, Red Hat Inc., abandoned its consumer Linux distribution in April. Michael Tiemann, vice president of open-source affairs at Red Hat, subsequently explained that "the retail model wasnt working for us." Holger Dyroff, vice president of product management for SuSE Linux, said that the retail model does work for Novell. "Were making a very nice profit with SuSE Linux Professional," he said. "Were selling about 200,000 units worldwide every six months, primarily in Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. With [Version 9.2], were re-entering the French market." SuSE Linux Professional has also served as a good introduction to Novells enterprise products for business customers, he said. Dyroff credited Novells success to a "consistently better product with stronger usability and management features" and a regular six-month release cycle. Meanwhile, HP sees security and high-performance computing as two areas that are currently reaching a turning point in Linux, although they will take a longer time to reach the mainstream. The implementation of the Linux Security Module in the 2.6 Linux kernel is a significant step, according to Mike Balma, HPs worldwide Linux strategist. In the works for some time, the module creates a framework of hooks allowing many security models to function as loadable kernel modules. "Its a very flexible environment, and will be the basis for a lot of innovation," Balma told eWEEK.com. Other important security advancements are the recent inclusion of Security Enhanced Linux features in distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, Common Criteria certification for some Linux distributions and Linux support for No Execute technology, designed to block buffer overflow security holes, Balma said. "Linux is turning the corner on security," he said. The new 2.6 kernel, now being implemented in enterprise-grade Linux distributions, is allowing Linux to support systems with more processors than before, Balma said. "You now have the ability to do fine-grained scheduling that allows Linux to scale to higher SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) environments," he said. "Typically, four-way systems have provided the best price/performance ratio, and you didnt see a lot of eight-way systems before the 2.6 kernel." Over the summer HP began supporting SuSE Linux Enterprise Server in 16-way configurations and higher on its Itanium systems, Balma said. "Linux has added that capability; its stablenow we need to get the rest of the infrastructure in there as well," Balma said. In the longer term, Balma highlighted the potential for Linux of clustered file systems for organizations storing terabytes to petabytes of data, and the gradual rise of utility computing, for which he said Linux is particularly well-suited because of its clustering capabilities and good price/performance ratio. LinuxWorld Expo continues through Thursday. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols contributed to this story. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at http://linux.eweek.com for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
For the next year and a half, Novell sees its Linux investments focusing on the desktop, centralized management of Linux in a mixed operating system environment, and Linux in the data center, Kavanagh said in a Wednesday keynote presentation.