LinuxWorld, New York
Tux eats big apple, but will he get indigestion?
New York is a business town—a city of professionals who carry out with efficiency whatever it takes to make their buck. This is evidenced not only in the office buildings, but in the numerous clubs, restaurants and stores that take only cash; the race-car taxi drivers (like racers not so much in speed as in skill and disregard for lanes and turn signals); and in the high number of suits in attendance at LinuxWorld Expo, New York.
That number was reflected by the many vendors exhibiting “enterprise-level” hardware and applications. The big players on the tradeshow floor were no longer so much trying to convince a community of hackers of their commitment to Linux as proving to a community of businesses the viability of Linux for all of their computing needs. Judging from some of my discussions with vendors, much of that community needs no convincing. Many vendors from 1mage to Egenera to CA report that the number of customers coming to them asking for Linux-only solutions is mushrooming.
While the fact that use of Linux is growing rapidly is certainly not news, it's heartening to see that it's not only in the server market. For example, the new HP X4000 workstation was designed for Linux with use in the Hollywood GFX/animation market in mind, and Hancom's office suite seems the answer to certain MS products that StarOffice has never quite delivered.
Some old-timers at the show expressed concern that the heavy business migration of the open-source OS would change the face of Linux—and that even Tux might be replaced with some corporate logo-like logo thing.
Certainly the fear is understandable. We hate to see tradition sacrificed to business—as does any New Yorker old enough to remember the days when vast herds of strong roomy reliable Checker A11 taxis roamed the wild streets of the city before being decimated by rising oil prices. The turn to more economical cars by taxi companies caused Checker Motors to retire from the auto manufacturing business, but the final blow was delivered in 1999 by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission when they failed to grant any allowance regarding the standard technical inspection to the last remaining Checkers, thus making the city's symbol a symbol of the past. (As a Checker owner, I'm glad to see their collector value soar as a result, but as a Checker lover I'd rather see them in their natural environs.)
But I don't think Tux will go the way of the Checker (but if he did, think of the fortune you'd make on eBay with all your Tux paraphernalia). Like Doc Searls, I'm convinced that the mix of business and Linux is a good thing—and for the same reasons. After all, as long as there is Linux, there will be Linux developers and Linux will remain a hackers' OS.
Richard Vernon is editor in chief of Linux Journal.