August 17, 2006

LinuxWorld day three

Author: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

SAN FRANCISCO -- The LinuxWorld Conference & Expo continued Wednesday with another day of exhibits and presentations. I spent the day attending talks on GCC and LSB, and talking to some of the interesting folks at the show.

I went to two sessions on Wednesday, one about the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and another about desktop development and the Linux Standard Base (LSB).

The GCC presentation by Janis Johnson, "Recent Developments in GCC," was an overview of the GCC project and recent changes in it -- with "recent" being within the last few years. Johnson is the test suite maintainer for GCC and is employed with IBM's Linux Technology Center.

Since my main interaction with GCC is watching compiler messages float by when I build software from source, I found the talk somewhat interesting. Johnson explained the way that GCC works as a project and as a compiler, how decisions are made to add features, and what platforms supported by GCC.

The actual discussion of recent developments and upcoming features, however, was a minor portion of the talk. Johnson did mention that OpenMP should be in the upcoming release of GCC, touched on some new and improved optimizations for code produced by GCC, and also mentioned that one of the long-term goals for GCC is link-time optimization to provide better memory use.

After the GCC presentation, I made my way to the LSB presentation, "LSB Desktop: Benefitting Application Developers Now." The bulk of the presentation was by Rajesh Banginwar, a software architect for Intel and the LSB Desktop Lead. Donya Shirzad of RealNetworks spoke briefly about the importance of the LSB in distributing the RealPlayer client for Linux.

Banginwar's portion of the talk covered the problems that ISVs face when trying to distribute applications for Linux; the fact that different distros have different libraries, package management, directory structures, and so forth. He also discussed the LSB 3.1 Desktop standard, the certification process, and how to use LSB tools to certify applications.

Shirzad spent about five minutes talking about the problems that RealNetworks has run into in developing for Linux, as well as other platforms. She says that while you have several different versions of Windows, they tend to be "pretty much" standard for application developers. Mac OS X has even fewer headaches for developers, but Linux has a number of different distros to target.

The good news, though, is that RealNetworks finds Linux interesting to develop for because of the range of devices that it runs on. Since Linux is present on desktops, phones, and home entertainment devices, RealNetworks is interested in making sure its products work on Linux.

The LSB talk was interesting, but I would have liked to have heard more from Shirzad and other vendors about their experiences developing for Linux.

Red Hat responds

Yesterday I mentioned that Red Hat was not exhibiting at LinuxWorld Expo this year, much to the consternation of show attendees. I didn't get a response from Red Hat in time for the article yesterday, but I did hear from Red Hat yesterday afternoon about its decision not to attend.

Tim Yeaton, Red Hat's senior vice president of Enterprise Solutions, says, "Red Hat values our long-standing and vibrant collaboration with the open source community. As a company, we have found that more direct methods of communication and engagement beyond LinuxWorld, including seminars, Red Hat Summit, and other focused events, help us to maintain and grow our interactions with our customers and the Linux community."

Walking the show floor

I also spent a little bit of time walking the show floor Wednesday to take a look at the exhibits, and to see whether the LinuxWorld Expo swag is up to standards.

So far, and maybe I just haven't hit the right booth yet, the swag has been pretty sub-standard. I have enough pens to last through next LinuxWorld, but I haven't collected enough T-shirts to last a week.

The attendees that I've spoken to so far seem to be happy with the show, though I've heard mixed reports on show traffic -- a few people have said they have seen more traffic to their booths, and a few others have said it's up from last year. I have a feeling this is just a result of placement on the show floor.

Many of the .Org booths, the Ubuntu booth in particular, seem to be swamped, while others have only a few attendees dropping by at a time.

LinuxWorld concludes today. The exhibit floor will be open until 3 p.m., the same time that sessions wrap up.

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