LinuxWorld notebook: Users can wait on 2.6

Think enterprise Linux likes the bleeding edge? Not so, according to users attending this week's LinuxWorld Conference & Expo. They are in no rush to embrace the 2.6 version of Linux. Also, people may think companies like Linux for the cost, but control is the real value proposition of Linux.

NEW YORK -- If you think enterprises are in a rush for the 2.6 version of the Linux kernel, think again.

"It's only at 2.6.1 right now. I think most companies would wait another year or two," said Joe Cooper, senior network engineer for the Bank of New York and an attendee of LinuxWorld Conference & Expo, on Wednesday. "We want to see the problems other people run into. It's going to change so much."

Few enterprises would build a Linux platform from scratch. They're more likely to wait for enterprise versions from Linux distributors like Red Hat Inc. and SuSE Linux AG, and for support for applications from Oracle Corp., SAP AG and others.

"Companies don't want to look at something a bunch of kids put together in their spare time," Cooper said. "They want to have a large company backing it up."

Red Hat's vice president of engineering, Brian M. Stevens, confirmed that 2.6 isn't on the radar for companies.

"Zero [interest]. Literally dead flat, which is good, because they're not asking you for a kernel version -- they're asking you for a certain capability, feature or performance," Stevens said.

Business case is about control

The least understood but most important reason to use Linux in the enterprise is not cost, but control.

That's what Russell Pavlicek told a standing-room-only audience Wednesday at LinuxWorld. Pavlicek, an author and consultant with Linux Professional Solutions, cited the example of the city of Munich, Germany -- which is moving to Linux on the desktop, even though it was somewhat costly to do so.

"Organizations that figure out this one the soonest will be the winners," Pavlicek said.

Pavlicek's session dealt with making a business case for Linux and open source. He talked about the immediate benefits enterprises could realize, like reducing license burdens and eliminating auditing hassles from the Business Software Alliance.

Pavlicek pointed out the flexibility open source offers companies when it comes to choosing a support vendor -- because all the various flavors of Linux are based on the same code. This keeps the support vendors honest and keeps businesses from becoming tied to a single hardware platform.

"Dealing with closed-source is kind of like trying to find the right city bus," Pavlicek said. "Open source is a lot more like a taxi cab. ... You get in and the driver says, 'Where do you want to go?'"

According to Pavlicek, open source is also changing the rules of IT. With open source, staffing concerns are nil, he said, because engineers coming out of school study open source. "Before long, this is going to be the majority of your work pool," he said.

NT to Linux, anyone?

You have to hand it to IBM. When Big Blue sees an opportunity, it goes for it.

Take, for example, Microsoft's decision at the end of 2004 to drop support for Windows NT, leaving 2 million users in a potential lurch.

On Wednesday, IBM announced it would offer Windows NT-to-Linux migration programs for its business partners, including free education and training, and price reductions on services and software, including a move to Lotus Notes from Exchange.

IBM will also offer pretested workload solutions for Linux, including collaboration, file and print serving, Web and application serving, security, network and systems management, and database management.

Golden Penguin: Nerds beat geeks; slam McBride

The Geeks -- Douglas Fallstrom of Veritas Software Corp., Russell Pavlicek of Linux Professional Solutions, and Danese Cooper of Sun Microsystems Inc. -- could not overcome the triumphant Nerds in Wednesday's Golden Penguin Bowl, a trivia contest that's a LinuxWorld standby.

The winning team of Linux Terminal Server Project founder Jim McQuillan, Rackspace Managed Hosting's Dirk Elmendorf and IBM's Joshua Jensen received gold-colored glass penguin trophies as proof of their nerdy supremacy.

The trivia event, however, was a SCO-bashing party from the outset, with host Chris DiBona's jab at Darl McBride. DiBona described the CEO as "Arch-Devil, Santa Cruz Operation." Others wondered whether McBride was alive, and got the response: "Alive from the neck down."

As DiBona pointed out afterward, the questions aren't really the focus of the event. "The trick is being glib. ... We're all Linux people; let's laugh."

The contest was judged by Samba Team developer Jeremy Allison, eGullet.com CEO Jason Perlow and RealNetworks' Rob Lanphier.

Assistant site editor Amy Kucharik contributed to this report.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Click here for SearchEnterpriseLinux.com's coverage of LinuxWorld Conference & Expo.

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