LinuxWorld Announcements Looming

Improvements in Linux clustering, system management, and the future of open source as it relates to enterprise performance and 64-bit computing will be hot topics at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo at the San Jose Convention Center, in San Jose, Calif., this week.

Following a keynote address by Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Computer Corp., more than 200 exhibitors, from Adaptec Inc. to Zend Technologies, will fill the convention center floor with demonstrations of the latest open-source technologies.

Aiming for a complete Linux management solution, Orem, Utah-based Caldera Systems Inc. at the show will introduce network management software code-named Cosmos, according to Michael Wilkinson, a product manager for Caldera's server team. Cosmos will enable secure, remote management of multiple Linux or heterogeneous systems, enabling network administrators to manage vast networks through the use of applied network policies rather than having to individually mange each system. Cosmos can manage hardware and software inventories, software distribution, system-health monitoring, and even printer configuration, Wilkinson said.

SuSE, an IBM business partner and international Linux vendor with offices in Oakland, Calif., will demonstrate the flexibility of SuSE Linux software and its cross-platform implementations from IBM S/390 through the Macintosh G4 down to WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones.

For its part, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM will announce three new open-source projects at the trade show. The first will be a print architecture and print drivers for Linux, which will double the number of current print drivers available for Linux, according to Dan Frye, the program director of IBM's Linux technology center of the enterprise server group. Frye said the architecture and drivers will be issues under the Lesser General Public License. Second, IBM is availing its Andrew File System network file system to an open-source licensing scheme, which will be available under Big Blue's own public license. Additionally, IBM at the show will announce the Dynamic Probe, tools for improving the serviceability of Linux.

"Over time, we'll make this a more comprehensive and complete set of tools," Frye said.

IBM also is establishing a full-time dedicated team of engineers to further the serviceability of Linux.

IBM also will unveil new performance results based on the 2.4 Linux kernel vs. the 2.2 version. Frye said that the 2.4 kernel achieved 2.5 times the throughput of the 2.2 kernel on a four-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) server.

Hewlett-Packard, in Palo Alto, Calif., also will be making a number of announcements at the show.

HP is expanding its partnership with Linuxcare to add high-availability services, with a guaranteed time to repair, said Mike Balma, the director of marketing for HP open source and Linux.

Further, Linuxcare will be certified for Caldera, SuSE, Red Hat, and TurboLinux versions of the OS. Support for all but Red Hat is new.

HP also will discuss plans for porting Linux to its 64-bit PA-RISC platform.

"We'll have a developer's release soon, and production quality code will be available in Q4," Balma said.

Moreover, HP is certifying and supporting its e-PCs for Linux, as well as bundling TurboLinux with its Kayak workstations, Vectra desktops, and the entire line of NetServers.

On the software side, Balma said that HP is porting its Web QoS (quality of service) and OpenMail products to Linux.

"We're committed to bringing compatibility between Linux and HP-UX," Balma said. Users with Linux software can take the same code and run it on HP-UX without rewriting it.

"From a developer's point of view, it means they can code their latest application in Linux on a laptop on an airplane and run it on HP-UX. This give developer's an additional path at the high-end," Balma said. "There's no question we're treating Linux equally to our own HP-UX."

Sun Microsystems, in Palo Alto, Calif., will make several LinuxWorld announcements reinforcing its storage, Java, and StarOffice products.

"We will be building on the strategies we've talked about in the past. There will be no major shift in Sun's overall directions," said Herb Hinstorff, the manager of SMI Linux and open-source program office of Sun Microsystems.

The company, for instance, will demonstrate versions of its JDK 1.3 and Java 2 Standard and Enterprise Editions running on Linux.

Sun also is going to make its SPARC processor available for more Linux distributions.

"These bring Linux and Solaris closer, so that from the user experience, it's a common user experience, and on the developer side, it's a common developer experience," Hinstorff said.

On the wireless front, Transvirtual, a Berkeley, Calif.-based vendor, will announce at the show a new Linux-based software platform aimed at the wireless PDA (personal digital assistant) market and that fully leverages Java and XML technologies.

Called PocketLinux, the product consists of three layers, according to company officials. At the bottom of the stack is the Linux operating system. On top of that sits Kaffe, Transvirtual's Java Virtual Machine. The top layer is an XML presentation layer written in Java.

"This architecture allows developers to write applications that will run transparently across the network and share information," said Tony Fader, vice president of marketing at Transvirtual.

Tim Wilkinson, CEO of Transvirtual, said PocketLinux enables not only PDAs but other devices such as IP telephones that allows Linux applications to be used in a more useful way, enabling users to listen to MP3 files, read e-mail, and read appointment calendars, according to Wilkinson.

At the show, Wilkinson said, the company would demonstrate PocketLinux running on PDAs such as the Compaq iPAQ and the Vtec Helio.

VistaSource, a Westboro, Mass.-based company, will launch the first beta of its next version of AnywhereOffice, a server-based version of its ApplixWare client software. Besides Linux, the new program will work with several Unix platforms including Sun Solaris.

The server-based suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and graphics tools, database client, and a tool set to help users and developers create customized applications over the Web, company officials said.

Client users need only a Java-based browser in order to access the server-based suite and any individual data files.

"We think this product allows us to deliver programs and data with high performance over a browser. It can support large numbers of clients and thin clients from a single server," said Bernie Thompson, president of VistaSource.

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