August 28, 2001

LinuxWorld: Getting that old time religion

Author: JT Smith

A look at LinuxWorld Expo PR
- By Dan Berkes -
When the number of press releases on NewsForge turns from a trickle into a torrent, it can only mean one thing: Linux World Conference & Expo is on. Linux and Open Source receive greater than usual attention from the PR mills, all hoping that we'll notice them before we notice a competitor. I decided to notice everyone -- at least the version of everyone that submitted press releases on Monday.
When it comes to LinuxWorld, some companies are similar to what my mother used to call "Holiday Christians," referring to the folks who would show up to hear the gospel at Easter and Christmas, but would put their faith on the back burner for the rest of the year. A few companies act that way when it comes to Linux and Open Source, ramping up their efforts for the trade shows but placing the stuff in the storage closet for the rest of the year.

But that's really just the nature of trade shows, and while Linux World Expo may be a trade show focused on a beloved operating system, it is still merely a trade show. The name of the game is getting noticed, getting press coverage, and hopefully even generating some sales out of the exhibition. But the main benefit from these activities -- even if they don't warm the hearts of Linux purists -- is that it nudges Linux back in the mainstream media spotlight. So what if they time all their press releases to happen just once or twice a year, along with the Expos? Linux still benefits!

In the interest of fairness, it should be noted that most of these companies maintain a strong, year-round commitment to Linux and Open Source. Even so, most save their most impressive announcements for the shows. Again, that's understandable -- that whole maximum-exposure thing I rattled on about in the last paragraph. And since getting the most mileage out of an announcement is the name of the game, I thought it would be just peachy if I lent a helping hand to those publicity efforts. Let's take a look at some of the Linux-related press releases that hit the wire on the first day of Linux World Expo, shall we?

MontaVista opens the gates
Embedded Linux developer toolmaker MontaVista announced that it had opened the source code of its Hard Hat Linux 2.0 Library Optimizer Tool (LOT). The tool parses and inventories program libraries and symbols required by a particular project and prunes unwanted library code and symbols, resulting in a leaner, meaner release of your own wares. The LOT will be available from http://libraryopt.sourceforge.net/ after September 15.

HP secures, embeds its mark
Hewlett-Packard's latest announcement was more of an aggregate of recent announcements from the company, helpfully reminding us of the new HP Secure OS Software for Linux, the company's embedded Linux software platform and related developer's network, and news of manageability and high-availability tools. Still, it's worth keeping in mind for things to browse if you hit the exhibition floor.

Red Hat, Compaq, and Pioneer-Standard, oh my!
The three companies announced a new fully scalable e-commerce solution that -- unlike many of the products announced today -- are actually available right this very moment for your purchasing pleasure. Choose from a single server, an enterprise-level cluster, or a mission-critical cluster for your e-commerce and database needs. Each one includes Compaq's DL360 servers and Red Hat's E-Commerce Suite of software; other support and service options are available. Pioneer-Standard will configure and install the servers before they ship to customers.

New clustering software
Clustra Systems announced the release of its shiny new Clustra DataCenter appliance. The DataCenter enables administrators to assemble an enterprise-level database from a Linux server cluster. The cluster itself can be built from off the-shelf Linux systems, and the company boasts of "continuous availability exceeding 99.999 percent uptime." The company also released version 4.1 of its Clustra Database which, of course, is part of the whole DataCenter clustering picture.

Penguins for sale
Penguin Computing has a new arrival it wants you to know about -- the Altus 1240. The company says the Altus 1240 is the first offering in a new line of server products powered by processors from Advanced Micro Devices. The particular AMD hardware under the hood of this model are dual Athlon processors, a 266MHz front-side bus, hot-swappable SCSI drives, and can aaccommodateup to 4GB of DDR RAM, all wrapped into a slim 1U rackmount chassis. According to Penguin Computing's Web site, a base Altus 1240 will set you back a very reasonable $3,509.

Florida loves Linux
We're not sure if Bynari made it to Linux World Expo or not, but they did choose today to announce that City of Largo, Florida, had chosen the company's Insight messaging and collaboration groupware software. Bynari Insight replaces the city's aging Novell GroupWise solution, and will fit nicely onto those 400 KDE desktops that city employees are currently using. According to city officials, the whole combination saves taxpayers millions of dollars in licensing fees that would otherwise go to support hardware and proprietary software.

Ximian's double dip
Oh boy, two relevant press releases from Ximian today! The first release tells us that the company announced its Red Carpet software management and version control services for Linux. Red Carpet Express dishes out high-speed download services for subscribers; Red Carpet CorporateConnect promises a centralized way to manage software version control and client installations. There's also Red Carpet Partner Program, which is said to allow software vendors to create and manage channels for distributing Linux or Unix software. Red Carpet Express will be avavailableor consumer purchase at $9.95 per month, CorporateConnect will go for $150 per year (plus a $2,500 setup fee); both should be available within the next 45 days.

The second announcement notes that Ximian has started shipping its desktop productivity software. Named Ximian Desktop, the package includes Ximian's flavor of GNOME, and a suite of fully-documented applications ranging from word processing to e-mail to multimedia to personal information management. There are two versions of the program: Standard, and Professional Edition, with the latter including Sun's StarOffice, which has been integrated with Ximian's desktop environment. Standard will sell for $29.95, and Professional will sell for $49.95, both through Ximian's online store or by ordering over the phone.

If you were wondering what was worth checking out at this year's Linux World Expo, now you have a few things to see. And, should you decide to leave the underground exhibition space at San Francisco's Moscone Center during a reasonable hour, I understand that there's a new Jollibee hamburger joint nearby that's actually pretty decent. And they have a cute mascot, too.

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