February 4, 2004

Tiemann's keynote at EclipseCon

Author: Joe Barr

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Red Hat CTO Michael Tiemann kicked off Day 2 of the conference portion of EclipseCon this morning with his keynote on the "Eclipse Tipping Point." He started with a well-aimed barb at a well-known monopoly. Referring to a New York Times story which asserted that PowerPoint makes you stupid, he told the audience as he began his talk "This is Open Office. I'm going to make you smarter today."

For those not familiar with Malcolm Gladwell's 1999 book "The Tipping Point", Tiemann spent some time describing what a tipping point is. He described Paul Revere's famous ride as an example, and Linus Torvalds and the rise of Linux as another. He also quoted Victor Hugo to make his point: "Invading armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come."

The basic premise for his talk is that Eclipse has taken off because its time has come. His challenge to the audience was to ask what they will do with the opportunity.

Tiemann described the hardware side of the computing industry in terms of Moore's Law and talked about how the software part of the equation has not kept pace. Hardware has become much more powerful and much less expensive, but not so with software.

The talk centered on security for awhile as he described the failure of software platforms to provide the "multi-level" security required by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. Instead of delivering security, Tiemann said, platforms are being delivered which can be compromised in less than two minutes if exposed to the Internet without a firewall. He wasn't just talking about Windows, but Linux as well.

Eclipse, Tiemann argued, could be used for the common good by providing the framework and the tools to allow applications to be modified so that they can fit into a multi-level security model.

Michael Tiemann talks with attendees prior to keynote.

Then he announced that the next version of Fedora, expected to be released shortly as the final 2.6 bugs are being slain, will come with SE Linux as the default install. But only four or five of the more than 1,400 applications available for Fedora will be ready for SE Linux. His obvious hope is that Eclipse can help more applications get in the game.

In closing, Tiemann said that Eclipse offers us a choice. We can use it to realize our ideas, like SE Linux, or we can use it to resist the ideas whose time has come.

In a brief conversation with Tiemann after the keynote, I asked what the linkage was between Red Hat and Eclipse. He explained that Red Hat has had a developer working on the CDT project for over a year. Eclipse, it seems, is not just about Java. When a member of the audience asked Tiemann why he thought it was Eclipse at the tipping point and not NetBeans, Tiemann said it was because Eclipse was not locked into a single choice for development, while NetBeans is.

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