August 4, 2004

LinuxWorld commentary: (Fill in here) now offers Linux support!

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

LINUXWORLD -- The main theme of this show ought to be, "We now offer Linux
support!" Most of the companies making this boast -- often in press
releases with all-caps headlines -- are proprietary software vendors, and most
of their products are utilities of some sort aimed at enterprise users, not at
consumer-level desktop users.We aren't even trying to cover all these companies and their announcements.
There are too many of them. We're running some of their press releases and
linking to stories about them in our NewsVac section,
but that's about it.

One major trend is abundantly clear here, but it's not a new one: That Unix
companies must either make peace with -- and support -- Linux, or face
corporate death. You might say that this LinuxWorld represents the point on a
"slippery slope" where acceleration toward Linux can no longer be reversed. You
might as well hang on and enjoy the ride.

Unlikely bandwagon-jumpers

Unisys, which not long ago was the last big-iron company that still swore
fealty to Microsoft, has now taken the Linux
plunge
. (Unisys did a little half-hearted dabbling with Linux a few years
back, but this time around it seems a little more serious about it.)

Even proprietary software overlord Microsoft is releasing
some
of its software
(even if only tiny, fringe,
"developer-only" bits and pieces) under an open source license. This isn't that
"Shared Source" license silliness, either, but a real, OSI-approved open source
license
that gives developers and users real open source freedoms.

Rumors abound at LinuxWorld

One strange byproduct of Microsoft's open source release and the
company's selection of OSTG's SourceForge.net as the place to release it was a
rumor that Microsoft had bought or was about to buy OSTG, formerly known as OSDN. That's the company
that owns NewsForge, Slashdot, Linux.com, IT Manager's Journal, freshmeat,
SourceForge.net, and a number of other sites.

It ain't so, folks. A rough paraphrase of OSTG's vice president and general manager Pat
Farrell's reponse to this rumor: "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

Disclaimer: Pat Ferrell is our boss. NewsForge editorial policy doesn't usually allow
us to write about OSTG or our parent company, VA Software, but as
editor in chief of OSTG I am giving myself a temporary reprieve from that
rule.

The reality is that Microsoft has put a couple of open source projects on
SourceForge.net. As of this writing, SourceForge.net
houses 85,214 open source projects. Only a few of them are sponsored by
Microsoft. In fact, if you search
SourceForge.net
for "Microsoft" you'll see several Linux-on-the-Xbox
projects right up top. These are not sponsored by Microsoft; Microsoft
doesn't even like them. SourceForge.net is an open repository for open
source development. Microsoft is allowed to use it, same as anyone else --
including you.

The other big rumor circulating at LinuxWorld is about Sun or IBM possibly
buying Novell. NewsForge reporter Chris Preimesberger covered this
yesterday
. At last night's parties and panels this was the hottest bit of buzz coming from the show. It'll probably be today's biggest gossip topic, too.

But that's enough of that. It's 9:30 a.m. here in San Francisco, time to get
over to the show and talk to people in the .org pavilion -- the area in the back
of the exhibit hall where non-profits like the FSF and EFF and projects like KDE
and GNOME have their little booths. Hardly anyone in the .org pavilion sends
out press releases with all-caps headlines. But this is the place to go if you
want to see the future of Linux, especially on the desktop, so it's where I'm
going to spend most of my day.

Click Here!