From back office to desktop, Linux is spreading

The Linux community this week turns its attention to LinuxWorld 2004 in New York, where the buzz will be, well, take your pick: Linux on the desktop, new enterprise applications or maybe deeper migration programs.

All will be vying for attention on the show floor as the event begins tomorrow.

Among the key vendors on hand will be Novell Inc., which last week closed on its purchase of SUSE Linux AG. The company is expected to spell out in detail its continuing integration of the SUSE Linux operating systems and its own product lines, including NetWare.

Jack Messman, chairman and CEO of Provo, Utah-based Novell, will give the opening keynote at the conference Wednesday morning; he will talk about how his company has moved from being solely a proprietary software business to one that also embraces open-source software.

Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said the company will also announce that it plans to join an open-source initiative group to further its involvement in the Linux community.

Samuel Greenblatt, a senior vice president and chief architect for the Linux development group at Computer Associates International Inc. in Islandia, N.Y., will present a keynote speech on Thursday about how Linux is expanding its reach in the marketplace, including a look at the way it will be used to support the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"We're going to declare in our keynote that it's the 'Linux generation,'" Greenblatt said in an interview. "As the PC evolved to train a generation, Linux has now gotten to the maturity factor that Linux is going to become ubiquitous and pervasive like the PC was in the late 1990s. It's going to change the face of the world the way the PC did in 1982. We've got a lot to back it up."

One of the keys for Linux in the future, he said, will be the coming move to a more visual, 3-D desktop environment, which will help "lead the world to our door," he said.

The show, which runs through Friday, will feature a large number of major vendors displaying Linux wares, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co., Red Hat Inc., BMC Software Inc., Oracle Corp., Intel Corp. and Dell Inc.

This year's event will feature a return of the Linux Financial Summit, which will detail how Linux is continuing to be used in the financial services industry, particularly on Wall Street.

A new addition to the program will be Hands-On Linux Labs, where users can get training and information about the use of Linux in business. The labs will include training on managing mixed environments of Linux and Windows, as well as a workshop on using Apache Web server on Linux.