February 18, 2005

LinuxWorld expo wrapup

Author: Daniel P. Dern

The LinuxWorld Conference and Expo held in Boston this week looked a lot like any Linux show, with suits and T-shirts and jeans co-mingled on both sides of the booths. The 140 or so exhibitors included a respectable number of mainstream industry players, like AMD, Apple, BMC, Computer Associates, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Novell, Oracle, Sun, and Unisys, along with the leading Linux vendors, and usual-suspect Linux/open source/free software organizations and groups such as the Free Software Foundation and the Etherboot Foundation, and Debian, Fedora, GNOME, and X.org. Booth traffic seemed adequate, and attendees focused on getting info.

Software exhibitors ranged from virtualization, grid, and clustering to system and network management, Windows-to-Linux migration, multi-platform thin clients, performance and change management, reporting, app development ... real enterprise stuff.

Here's some of the news I gathered in a quick stroll-and-chat of the show floor.

EMU Software announced general availability of its enterprise-class configuration management software (agent-based) for Red Hat, SUSE, and MandrakeLinux; users include a large industrial distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases (e.g., the CO2 for your sodas), running about 10 servers.

ActiveState introduced its Komodo 3.1
application development environment, of special interest to users of Perl, Linux, and Subversion source control, for working with scripting languages like Perl, Python, PHP, and TCL. "It's a development environment built from the ground up for these dynamic languages," according to Matt Herdon, director of sales and marketing. "It fits the style of programming for those languages better. For example, a Perl programmer gets all the tools they need."

SSH Tectia announced a version of its SSH Tectia
Client/Server software for the mainframe, on Linux and IBM's z/OS.

MEPIS was offering its SimplyMEPIS Linux distro, which is included in Robin "Roblimo" Miller's "Point and Click Linux" book.

Business Objects, which does business intelligence and reporting and query/analysis tools, was showing its BusinessObjects Enterprise on Linux.

TallMaple Systems announced its new Samara 2.0, an application management system for building and deploying Linux-based appliances, by including the OS, SNMP, and a Web user interface. "We provide easy APIs so you can extend these with your own functionality, e.g. if you've already got VPN code, you can get to a deployable product in about six to eight weeks, versus a year or so for a start-up," says Greg Snyder, founder and CEO.

OpenNMS released version 1.2 of its open network management system.

Avamar was showing off its Linux-based backup and restore solution, and an IBM Business Partner logo.

Neoware Systems Inc was showing its thin client and terminal emulation products for Linux and XP. Neoware claims to be the market leader for the Linux world. It recently acquired Mangrove Software, a Linux development company. Unlike some thin client companies, Neoware uses replaceable ROM flash chips, for less expensive upgrades, and standard physical ports and sockets to let customers use any peripherals they have. "And we use robust steel cases, rather than plastic ones," notes Sharon O'Shea, vice president of marketing at Neoware.

Virtual Iron was showing its virtualization technology, for which it got one of the show awards. Virtual Iron claims that
unlike VMware, it lets you use multiple boxes that are connected by InfiniBand and virtualize them collectively. "We have a bare-metal level that lets you create one or more virtual computers, on which you run OSs and apps. We believe we're the only ones that allow you to aggregate across independent physical servers," says Bob Guilbert, vice president of business development at Virtual Iron.

Emperor Linux Inc. was showing the new Sharp AL3D notebook computer, with a 3D-capable screen (due out officially in mid-March), running Debian. The 3D display was, frankly, mind-boggling.

SteelEye, makers of LifeKeeper, announced LifeKeeper for Linux on Power for IBM's p-series machines, a data and application protection program that monitors servers to ensure uptime.

BitDefender was showing LinuxDefender, a bootable rescue CD for Linux systems, along with its anti-spam and anti-virus software for Linux mail and file servers.

Yosemite Technologies was showing its Tapeware Backup for multiple platforms, and announced backup-to-disk support. The company said it will be coming out with an enterprise-class product in the next month, offering disk-to-disk-to-anything, "creating virtual libraries, letting you stage to any medium," said Jake Mora, the company's marketing director.

WHAM Engineering and Software, a first-time exhibitor, was showing its performance measurement software for Linux and Unix.

Palamida announced its first commercial release of its IP Amplifier software, which checks source and identifies third-party open source and other components, according to founder Theresa Bui Friday. (Think, for example, litigation like the SCO lawsuits, or other poaching claims.)

BlackDuck Software Inc., who do
software compliance management solutions, where showing their
software compliance license management software, which check source code against OS projects to know about any license obligations associated with those matches.

PCs for Everyone, a geek-popular
Boston-area white box shop that has offered a choice of Windows, Linux,
multi-boot, and bare-bones computers for a number of years was there, booth-sharing with a Linux training/support partner.

Pervasive Software, a twenty-year-old software industry veteran known for its proprietary embedded database products like Btreive, was showing its recently announced Pervasive Postgres, the company's version of PostgreSQL, for which the company is offering service and support. "We believe we're the first established company to jump in the Postgres world to take it into established corporate environments," said Lance Obermeyer, director of products.

Sometimes I've found Linux show floors to be overbalanced with one or two possibly overhyped areas. It was reassuring and gratifying to see a wider range of vendors at LinuxWorld Expo, with several in a given category, but not an overwhelming preponderance of a few blue-skyers. Equally gratifying and reassuring was the mix of ages, from possibly still in high school to the greying and bald, and to see at least a few people I'd met a decade or more ago back at events from the sadly-long-defunct Boston Computer Society. New blood is good, but so is accumulated knowledge.

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