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HP Releases More Details on the Open Sourcing of webOS

This morning, HP gave further details of its contribution of the webOs platform to the open source community. I find these details and the timeline associated with the release to be positive developments, both for Linux and for the wider mobile markets.

The WebOS stack represents a rich set of components that combined together create a comprehensive platform for mobile devices. The highlight of today’s announcement has to be the open sourcing of Enyo, the application framework for webOS. This is a powerful framework that app developers can use to build applications that will work across different platforms including iOS, Android, webOS and so on.

Companies announce open sourcing products and projects all the time. There are several decisions HP executives made in this process that I think signal they are on the right track:

  • webOS is moving to the mainline Linux kernel. This saves any device maker service and support costs since it will eliminate much of the custom code those companies need to support. They have committed considerable resources to working with the upstream project, which will insure their Linux investment will last.
  • Open sourcing Enyo, instead of keeping some components closed source, will ensure that the complete stack is available with no lock-in by HP. While this enables competitors to literally take the R&D HP has invested in this product and use it to target other platforms, it also ensures that device manufacturers and app developers can make full use of the whole stack; thus increasing the changes that webOs may be adopted and used in products.
  • By using the Apache 2.0 license, HP has smartly decided to use a standard and well respected license, instead of something unique, niche or proprietary. Everyone understands the terms of the Apache license, thus cutting down on the requirements for education or promotion.
  • By using and contributing to core upstream Linux projects, HP is hedging its investment. Contributions of code that make Linux more power efficient will not only help them in mobile but also in the data center where power and cooling are central costs.

While there are clearly other open source solutions in the mobile space with Android and Tizen, choice is always good in technology. By using a mainline kernel, this announcement is also good for Linux, since any work HP and others contribute to webOS (think power management, device driver support, etc) can end up benefiting all Linux users. And by “all” I mean all, not just those using a phone running Android. Since server and desktop Linux users also use the mainline kernel all can benefit from this work.

Will webOS be successful? That of course remains to be seen. I will be watching, like everyone else, for announcements of device support. But by making smart early and crucial decisions like this, the project has a much better chance of succeeding.

 

Looking Back on SCALE 10x

A lot of things change in 10 years. Many of the Linux conferences we were going to in 2002 are no longer around, but the Southern California Linux Expo has not only survived – it's grown into a major event for anybody interested in Linux. Whether you're brand-new to Linux or using Linux to power cloud solutions, SCALE 10x had something for everybody.

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Linux Adopton Trends 2012: A Closer Look

Toyota, Google, Facebook, New York Stock Exchange, Burlington Coat Factory, Amazon.

These names represent just a handful of the thousands of large companies using Linux today. As early adopters of Linux (some having used the OS well over a decade) with some of the most technically advanced challenges to overcome in their business environments, companies such as these can give us important insight as to how Linux is being used and where it's growing.

That is why we started surveying large companies using Linux in 2010 and why today's new report, "Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Survey of Enterprise End Users," sheds light on what we can expect from enterprises, both large and small, that are using Linux. We hope this research can help inform the industry, our members and us as we prioritize our work for a New Year.

In order to intimately understand the adoption trends among this elite level of companies, we filtered the responses to our survey to collect just the data from companies with more than $500m+ in annual revenues or 500+ employees. You will find a variety of new data points in this year's report, but here's three that I think are interesting and/or surprising.

Linux is growing, even as spending forecasts remain bleak
Companies using Linux are bucking the forecast trends of reduced spending on IT. Eight out of ten respondents said they've added more Linux servers in the last 12 months and will add more in the next 12 months. Eight out of ten are also planning more Linux deployments over the next five years, while  only 21.7% said they will be adding more Windows in the next five years.

"Big Data" might be a buzzword, but it's a real concern
The rising level of data is not lost on large companies. In fact, it's a concern for more than 75% of our respondents. With the number of collection points spreading and more elements of our personal and professional interactions being digitized, the term "Big Data" is becoming part of our regular vocabulary. We were very interested to learn that more than two-thirds (or 71.8%) are planning to add more Linux in the next 12 months to support it. Given Linux's incumbent position in high-performance computing (HPC), maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise.

Overall concerns/issues with Linux dropping
While management perception remains at the top of the list of concerns among even large enterprise users, we found that few people see much impeding Linux's ongoing success. In fact we saw a 40% drop in people who thought technical issues would hold back the platform. Ten percent fewer this year say there are no issues at all impeding the success of Linux.

The 2012 Enterprise End User survey surfaces a very positive story for Linux among enterprises who use the operating system most. As our report says, "Once enterprises deploy Linux, they stick with Linux and plan to add more Linux, because the platform provides sustainable benefits that include a broad feature set, security, cost-savings and flexibility."

One last note: This report is not intended to be an assessment of the overall penetration of Linux in the market, or is it a cross-platform study. This "Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Survey of Enterprise End User" report reflects the usage trends of enterprise users most familiar with Linux, surfacing important data that can inform important work.
 

From CES: Will HTML5 Threaten the Closed World of the App Store?

Last week I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. A few years ago CES was not on my calendar as a “must-attend” show. While there has been Linux in play in consumer devices for many years, only in the last few years has Linux become a fundamental building block of virtually all major consumer electronics segments, from mobile phones to televisions to stereo equipment to automobiles. CES is now an event I simply can’t miss.

This year I was struck by the shifting nature of software ecosystems. On one hand you had Steve Ballmer and Steven Elop repeating over and over how Microsoft and Nokia will be the "third ecosystem" to Apple and Android’s already successful ones. I find it ironic that what Ballmer means when he says he wants “to build the strong third ecosystem in the smartphone market” is that Microsoft and Nokia really want to be well, Microsoft and Nokia again. Except this time in third place. We all know that the rise and hold of Microsoft’s desktop domination was driven not by technology superiority but by the “ecosystem,” the availability of applications and peripherals supporting that operating system (OS), and only that OS. Microsoft and Nokia would like to return to that world with their mobile platforms. As Elop said, “We believe the industry has shifted form a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems.”

But are they too late? Will ecosystems really matter as much in the world of HTML5?

Let’s be honest. HTML5 is really just another way to say “the Internet,” and when it comes to breaking "ecosystem" lock in there have been fewer better mechanisms than the Internet. With HTML5, developers can target multiple platforms with their applications, making silo’ed app stores less important than they are today. Imagine a world where developers can use new tools to publish their apps to the Android, Apple, Amazon and “whatever else” store with one click. No 30 percent revenue share if they don’t want it. No proprietary programming interfaces. That is the promise of the Internet.

AT&T has made a huge bet on HTML5. Even Apple promotes HTML5 and touts that every Apple mobile device, every new Mac, every new version of Safari, will support it. As they say, "These web standards are open, reliable, highly secure, and efficient. Standards aren't add-ons to the web. They are the web."

A new developer survey out this week shows three quarters of developers are planning HTML5 projects. And, why wouldn't thye? The promise of "write once, run everywhere" has always been incredibly alluring for any developer who wants the widest possible market for her or her apps.

I believe that HTML5 will be begin to be very important in 2012 and will make great strides in leveling the playing field away from the largest two mobile ecosystems. I also think it will help Android, since Android on other devices, like TVs, are also prone to application ecosystem fragmentation. As Wired Magazine says in their discussion of ecosystem wars in the (Android) television market, “This trepidation around rallying around a common platform is troublesome for consumers, who ultimately just want to use apps that work.”

HTML5 could deliver that experience and fuel a truly open mobile world where ecosystems won’t matter quite so much. Of course the hardware vendors must support and enable those standards, and to do that they must see it as in their best interest. They must embrace HTML5 as a way to enhance their platform and reduce the costs of building and supporting a software ecosystem. While some see closed app stores as a way to differentiate and generate revenue in a tight margin business, I personally feel that the wisdom of the Internet, along with vendor opportunities for revenues (such as in-app transactions) will win. Only time will tell.

 

The Best Linux Events of 2012

The Linux Foundation today announced its 2012 Linux events and onsite training schedule. Some highlights include a triple-header in San Diego in August: LinuxCon North America, Linux Plumbers Conference and Linux Kernel Summit. Someone better warn San Diego natives that we're taking over their city this summer. We're also really excited to host three events in Barcelona: LinuxCon Europe, Embedded Linux Conference Europe and KVM Forum. Viva Linux!

You can check out today's news release for details on these and other events or check out this slideshow we whipped together with some cool images and photos from past events. Shows us what's in store this year.

 
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