August 3, 2004

Overheard at LinuxWorld Expo

Author: Chris Preimesberger

UPDATED:LinuxWorld Conference & Expo opened this morning in San Francisco. Besides a slew of product announcements (see our NewsVac section) there's little to report yet beyond rumors and innuendo. In the interest of bringing you a complete picture of the show, here's some of the best tongue-wagging we've heard so far.One highly placed Xandros executive was heard to say following a press
conference this morning: "Linspire? Let me tell you about Linspire. When they
were Lindows, they wanted to build an operating system in which the user would
simply log in as a root user all the time. They couldn't get anybody to help
them; nobody thought that was a good idea. They came to us, and we said, sure,
we'll help you, but we also don't think it's a good idea. So we gave them our
Mercedes engine, and then they built a jalopy around it."

Hmm. Wonder if Linspire thinks it is building jalopies for all those new Dell desktops being assembled in
Ireland
?

Then there's all the whispering about which company, Sun Microsystems or IBM,
is going to be the one to acquire Novell. Sun was the first to go public about
it a few days ago, when new CEO Jonathan Schwartz alluded to it in his blog.
Off the record, some IBM people are also looking at this as a possibility, as
strange as the mix of cultures (Armonk, N.Y., vs. Orem, Utah) may seem.

Both companies have huge corporate investments in Linux at many levels, and both offer a
plethora of services built around enterprise open source. Both have uneasy
relationships with Microsoft, and both are looking at a new worldwide Linux
consumer market. And both need to own a name-brand Linux distribution at some point. A lot of customers of both companies would welcome it.

Is Novell for sale? We went right to the source and asked Novell Vice Chairman Chris Stone himself Tuesday morning. "He's just blogging," Stone said with a smile, in
reference to Schwartz's implication that Sun might be interested in acquiring
Novell for around $2.4 billion.

"We're partners, that's all," Stone said. "Their new JDS (Java Desktop
System) is based on our technology. We are also the JDS distribution system.
We've talked about some other smaller initiatives, but that's about it. I'm
not sure where that all came from."

Stone agreed that Schwartz was probably trying to anger IBM by contending
that Red Hat's enterprise Linux dominance leaves IBM almost entirely dependent
upon SUSE/Novell. "He said as much in the blog," Stone said.

However, Stone never came out and
said Novell would not entertain a buyout offer. Stay tuned.

Updated Coverage

Novell announced the release of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, which is
the first enterprise server built on the 2.6 kernel. A description of its new
features and enhancements can be found in this company announcement.

IBM said that it is jettisoning a copy of its Cloudscape relational database
product -- which it had acquired in the Informix purchase five years ago --
called Derby, to the Apache Software
Foundation
. All 500,000-plus lines of code will be vetted by the ASF over
the next several months.

"We estimate the dollar value of all that code to be worth $85 million," an
IBM spokesman said, basing the amount on the figure Informix originally paid
for the code in 1999.

Derby is a Java-based relational database with a 2MB footprint that is fully
embeddable and which requires no admin support, IBM said. Derby is targeted
for a 30 percent slice of the market which does not require an enterprise-class DB. "We're expecting this to go strictly to small and medium-size
organizations," an IBM spokesman said.

IBM says it is making the donation to help spur Java database development that
will eventually lead more users back to the WebSphere server line. On the
other hand, Cloudscape was never a big seller in the enterprise market, and
IBM was faced with either releasing it to the open source community or
possibly dropping it entirely from its catalog.

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