Business Trumps Technology at LinuxWorld

Analysis: This summer's LinuxWorld will feature more in the way of wheeling and dealing than technical breakthroughs and changes.

Attendees of LinuxWorld in San Francisco, the trade show running from Aug. 8 to Aug. 11, can expect to see many business deals unveiled and partnerships revealed, but there will be comparatively little in the way of new products or technological advances.

The new deals and partnerships will often have two themes in common: consolidation and competition. Perhaps the biggest news along those lines will come on Tuesday afternoon, when the DCCA (Debian Common Core Alliance) will finally reveal exactly what more than half a dozen of the biggest Debian companies and organizations have been up to for the last few weeks. The technical goal of the DCCA is straightforward enough: The group plans to use Debian Sarge and the LSB (Linux Standard Base) as the foundation for a common Debian-based enterprise version of Linux.

The business goal, though, is what makes this move interesting.

As Ian Murdock, founder of Progeny Linux System Inc.s and the Debian distribution, has said, "If you look at the installed base of Debian plus all the Debian derivatives, that represents a huge market worldwide. We undoubtedly dwarf Novell/SuSE in terms of volume, and for ISVs and IHVs [independent hardware vendors], its all about volume."

Neither Red Hat Inc. nor Novell Inc. will be sitting on their laurels while the Debian companies consolidate to form a viable enterprise alternative to Red Hats RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) or Novells SLES (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server).

Red Hat at LinuxWorld will be rolling out "a security strategy that will outline our progress in available offerings in the security space and set technical and business investment plan in the security space for the coming years," said Leigh Cantrell Day, Red Hat representative.

While details on how this will be done are hard to come by, Day also said that RHCS (Red Hat Certificate System) plays a role in this launch.

RHCS is the next generation of the Netscape Certificate Management System. Red Hat acquired this set of programs from AOL last fall.

RHCS provides a scalable and manageable PKI (public key infrastructure) authentication system to ensure that only authorized users and applications have access to mission-critical resources and data.

Sources close to Red Hat say that these new advances with RHCS are meant more to make RHEL more competitive with Sun Microsystems Inc.s Solaris and Microsofts Server 2003 than with its Linux competition.

Novell is taking a page from Red Hats book by opening up the development of its SuSE Linux Professional under the name of SuSE Linux. This new community-based Linux will be available both online and, unlike Red Hats Fedora Core, as a retail product.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about Novells community-based SuSE Linux project.

Like Fedora, Novells OpenSuSE project will be the testing bed for Novells enterprise products, SLES and Novell Linux Desktop.

Novell has also already announced several of its most important partnership improvements in advance of LinuxWorld.

These include a joint software and hardware stack with Hewlett-Packard and stronger support for JBoss JEMS (JBoss Enterprise Middleware System), which includes the JBoss Application Server, a J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) server.

While Novell is seeking more enterprise customers with JBoss, IBM seems to have other plans for the middleware system.

IBM will announce at LinuxWorld that it will open-source its newly acquired Gluecode application server management console software and donate the code to the Apache Foundation. Gluecodes software enhances Apache Geronimo, an open-source J2EE application server.

In addition, IBM will be announcing new support services for the core Geronimo software. By encouraging developers to embrace Geronimo, IBM can sell more IBM-brand software and services that enhance Geronimo and make it easier for commercial customers to move to IBMs WebSphere and DB2 database middleware.

And that is all well and good, but JBoss CEO and founder Marc Fleury will doubtlessly see this as more proof that "IBM wants to kill JBoss."

BI (business intelligence) will also be making a showing at LinuxWorld. While Bizgres Clickstream, released this week, is claimed by the trio of companies that created it to be the industrys first complete open-source BI development stack, it certainly wont be the last.

Business Objects SA is going to announce Tuesday that its bringing its leading BusinessObjects XI platform to Linux. Business Objects describes itself as "the first BI vendor to support Novell SuSE Linux, and one of the first to support Linux in general."

Last, and least, when it comes to competition and LinuxWorld, one would be remiss not to mention that, for the first time ever, the forces of the Evil Empire—aka Microsoft—will be taking on the powers of truth, life and flightless waterfowl, represented by Googles open-source staffers, in a battle to the finish in the Golden Penguin Bowl trivia contest.

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