LinuxWorld San Francisco 2005: Kick-Off

by Andy Oram

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LinuxWorld, for me, has belied attempts by many people to dismiss it
as a corporate marketing promo. The .Org Pavilion (where non-profits
at the center of the open source movement gather) was flourishing as
always today. A forum on Linux in government was held, though I won't
hear the results till tomorrow morning. And I'm meeting tomorrow with
somebody from the Chinese government to talk about their use of Linux
to promote rural development.

I heard Seth Hallem, CEO of
discuss the results of running their automated bug-checking tool on
successive versions of Linux. The most interesting finding was that
Linux experiences dramatic leaps in numbers of bugs between minor
versions (2.2 to 2.4, and 2.4 to 2.6) but that the number of bugs
steady declines as new releases come out within each minor version. In
other words, introducing major new functionality comes with new bugs,
as one would expect, and giving the developers time to shake out the
software pays off through reduced bugs.

Hallem also pointed out that the sheer increase in the number of
kernel maintainers has led to more bugs, because they take time to
learn where the danger points are. However, half of the bugs Coverity
found were in drivers, and each system has only a tiny percentage of

I heard some leaders of the Free Standards Group promote LSB. Like
other standards groups, FSG is better at finding new horizons than
establishing boundaries. Basically, no matter how much you
standardize, there's another untamed frontier of things you're tempted
to make work together. And so, on top of current work in packaging and
installation, shared libraries, configuration files, and file
placement (FHS), FSG is launching initiatives in system commands, ABIs
for system interfaces, the desktop, and system management.
Particularly interesting for me (although I don't see the field being
popular or ready for standards for many years to come) is identity,
which I covered a week ago in a

blog from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention

The opening keynote by Charles Phillips, president of Oracle
Corporation, sounded a note that's all too typical for that company,
when he indicated they have 81 percent of the commercial database
market on Linux, and then tossed in the comment, "That's not enough;
somebody else has the other 19 percent." (That somebody else is mostly
IBM, presumably with DB2.)

But Phillips's talk was significant because he made it clear that
Oracle--like other major computer vendors (IBM a couple years ago, and
Novell over the past year)--is walking the walk. Like them, he made a
prominent announcement that Oracle is putting Linux to major use
inside its own offices. And the reasons are similar: to find out what
the experience is like so they can help their customers make the
move. And for Linux's intrinsic virtues, more of which I'm sure to
discover as the conference proceeds.

Now tonight I've got to pack away all the corporate marketing
promo swag.