UpFRONT

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Stop the Presses

OpenSource Forum, a two-day conference on Linux and other emerging open-source software for IT executives, was held on June 30 and July 1 in Austin, Texas. This event, which I attended, was capably presented by Ziff-Davis.

This was a completely different experience for me than attending shows such as LinuxWorld or Linux Expo. The attendees were dressed casually, but were definitely business and professional people—not the hardcore Linux faithful. These people were there to find alternatives to Windows and determine whether open source was a good fit for their companies. Their minds were open, but not made up.

Keynote speeches by Eric Raymond, Ransom Love and Jon “maddog” Hall were enlightening and gave a good positive start to the proceedings. Eric discussed open-source business models and how to decide if and when to go open or stay closed. Ransom talked about the shift from mainframes to PCs (right-shifting) and the current shift to Internet devices (left-shifting), noting Linux is the perfect Internet device because of its capability to be pared down to a very small footprint, its stability, easy customization, high performance and low cost to implement and maintain. Jon discussed the various ways to make money with Linux and advised companies to “put an ad in Linux Journal”.

User Friendly Cartoon

Other talks presented a different side. In particular, Jonathan Eunice, President of Illuminata, proclaimed that for large enterprise applications, Linux was definitely not “enterprise-ready” and “free, open-source software is not a panacea”. He pointed out that the market demands a standard for something it can depend on, that UNIX failed because of fracturing due to not being able to agree on open standards, and that when time is of the essence and skills are limited, paying for a commercial product is the way to go.

Z-D's theme for the show was “Build Your Business with Open Source” and the auditorium was decorated as a construction site. Flashing yellow lights onstage proved to be a bit distracting. Attendance seemed low compared to the Expos and could be numbered in the hundreds rather than the thousands, although I did not get any final count. Still, it was a good conference—one that provided a much-needed platform for Linux and Open Source to strut their stuff for the business world.

—Marjorie Richardson

Readers' Choice Awards

It's that time of year again—time to vote for your favorite products in our Readers' Choice Awards. Voting will be held from September 1 through October 15 on the Linux Journal web site, www.linuxjournal.com/. Help your favorite products receive the fame and adulation they deserve—visit the site and fill out the entry form. In the immortal words of James Hoffa, “Vote early and vote often.” Winners will be announced in our January 2000 issue.

Rumor Mill: Though neither camp would substantiate the rumor, word has it Adobe Systems, Inc. has shown interest in purchasing Corel Corporation. We're sure Adobe would love to hear your opinions on this one.

Factoid: How do penguins sleep? Some species return to their burrows on land for a few hours of rest, but most penguins take only short naps. Some penguins actually sleep at sea, although this has not yet been observed. Overall, they sleep very little—much like programmers!

Another Famous Linus: Linus Van Pelt: better known simply as “Linus”. Famous Peanuts character in the long-running strip by Charles Schultz. Noted for trademark “security blanket” and thumb-sucking. Turns 47 on September 19th. Words to live by: “I love mankind. It's people I can't stand.”

Rumor Mill: James Sasser, the U.S. Ambassador to China, has blamed much of the tension between the two countries on the recent proliferation of “1999: Year of the Penguin” T-shirts. Graphics and T-shirt designer Jesse Judd was unavailable for comment, having retreated to the Olympic Mountains outside Seattle.

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Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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