At CA World in Las Vegas, CA devoted a day to Linux, writes Robin Bloor of Bloor Research. This included a panel session for press and analysts, chaired by Sam Greenblatt, SVP and Chief Architect of CA's Linux Technology Group.
The panel was made up of a selection of the great and the good from the Linux community. It included: Linus Torvalds, living legend and creator of Linux, Jon MadDog Hall, President of Linux International, Larry Augustin, Chairman of VA Software Corp, Jay Peretz, VP Oracle Corp, Michael Evans VP, Red Hat and Juergen Geck, CTO of SuSE Linux.
The following are edited highlights of the session.
Question: What do you think the effect of the SCO legal case will be on Linux adoption?
Larry Augustin (VA): We have seen no effect at all on end user adoption. This is a single contract instance dispute between SCO and IBM. I believe IBM knows how to take care of itself in legal disputes. I don't think it will affect anything.
Question: Why did SuSe win the Munich deal? What does it mean for Linux?
Juergen Geck (SuSE): I think the primary reason was that SuSE was able to provide an enterprise level offering that stemmed from a single code base - plus we were able to offer in depth support, guaranteed for 5 years. Two weeks ago I was on a panel with three people from the Microsoft German office. The same question came up and Microsoft were behaving very defensively. They said "While you have won Munich, we won Frankfurt."
Michael Evans (Red Hat): We are now witnessing unbridled growth of Linux sales in all dimensions - different geographies, different vertical sectors, different applications, different hardware platforms.
Larry Augustin (VA): We are witnessing something new: customer pull. Previously we had to evangelise and take the Linux story to the customer. Now the customer is coming to us and asking us how do they get on to Linux.
Jon 'Maddog' Hall: Microsoft doesn't understand. They don't have an answer. They have not figured out a way to compete with Linux or to embrace Linux.
Question: What does the panel think about Linux fragmentation?
Various panel members in discussion: There are 150 distributions of Linux, but it is a standard architecture and there is a standard kernel. It is not as bad as it sounds. There is no distinct intellectual property within Linux. Because of that, none of the distributions have any interest in varying the code in an attempt to get some advantage - as happened with Unix. It is a matter of which release and which components are provided. In fact it is a shared business driver (for Red Hat, SuSE, VA, etc.) that there should be no real fragmentation.
Question: What are you hearing from the customers?
Michael Evans (Red Hat): The main thing that is happening now is that customers are asking "What is your Linux story?" and "How can you help me get on to Linux faster?". There is still a lot of work to be done in education.
Question: What does the panel have to say about the accusation that some companies donate code to Linux for their own corporate advantage?
Linus Torvalds: I do not take code from IBM, or Intel, or CA, or Oracle. I take code from engineers. It just happens that some of those engineers work for IBM or Intel or CA or Oracle. But this is not a consideration when we accept donations of code.
Question: Is there a practical barrier to the spread of Open Source products?
Linus Torvalds: I used to think there was a barrier, but now I do not. There is a barrier to Open Source in niche areas perhaps, where the open source model may not create a large enough community to make an open source approach worthwhile.
Question: Does the panel have any further comments they'd like to make?
Jon 'maddog' Hall: It's humbling to think of thousands of programmers working together to a common aim. They are not working for nothing, they are working for each other.
Larry Augustin (VA): My only disappointment so far, is the time it has taken for the Linux desktop to take off. This is happening now, but I had hoped it would happen sooner.
Jay Peretz (Oracle): Open source is turning software vendors into service providers.
Michael Evans (Red Hat): One year ago I saw the tornado as being about a hundred miles off, a few months ago it was on our doorstep, now we're inside the tornado of demand.
Juergen Geck (SuSE): One OS for everything, from embedded systems and hand held devices to massive clusters. It is unique.
Jon 'maddog' Hall: I've seen Linux applications running on a Sony Playstation - and an X-Box.
Larry Augustin (VA): Code is moving in one direction only. It is moving into open source.