Don Marti

Mon 08 Aug 2005 07:23:20 PM PDT

LinuxWorld 2005

I'm at the new Moscone Center addition for LinuxWorld. I haven't been to this one before. Pretty swanky. It's still Trade Show Land, Planet Earth, and could be anywhere.

First, a few Moscone tips: if some of your hardware didn't survive the trip to the show, or you need some digital doo-dad, hit Central Computer on Howard.

If you have a little extra time for lunch, and want to get a little local flavor, spicy style, go to Tu Lan. Get lots of spring rolls and/or Imperial Rolls. These are not a "go ahead, you eat the last one" appetizer. They're extra super yummy, and cheaper than having your friends secretly mad at you for ending up with one more than they did.

If you have time blocked out for lunch or dinner with somebody you want to impress, go for ThirstyBear. As you can tell by the ComputerCaps name, it tends to get full of people in company trade show shirts talking about computers around LinuxWorld time. But the tapas are really good.

Enough about the neighborhood. I'm going to write down some subjects I'm interested in that I hope people around this conference will have interesting ideas about. Kind of an open to-do list.

Power management

Everything from livable PCs to affordable data centers depends not just on cooling the system, but on not generating the excess heat in the first place. Drivers matter.

To see at the show: AMD (118, PowerNow) Penguin Computing (432, 2005 Linux Journal Ultimate Linux Box)

Is Moore's Law over?

This is the "Peak Oil" of IT. If you make all your money on the latest, fastest processor, and the new processors aren't getting faster, where's the money? (My bet: a chunk of reconfigurable logic, so that you can load up special-purpose instructions to do the performance-critical parts of your favorite VPN, GIMP plugin, or simulation "in hardware". Kind of like VIA Padlock, only you could get or develop "plug-in" instructions to do anything you want.)

Who's commoditizing large-scale storage?

In the 90s, companies were paying much more for UNIX boxes than the processing power would cost them at Fry's. They got smart. Today, companies are paying much more for Enterprise Storage than the storage would cost them at Fry's. Breaking free of Big Storage FUD is going to be a fun story to watch.

To see at the show: Red Hat (210, GFS), Coraid (357, ATA over Ethernet)

Device Drivers, HALs, NDAs, and back doors

If you're running a "tainted" kernel with non-GPL drivers, you might as well be running your Linux as a guest OS under VMWare (860) or Xen on Microsoft (not here this time) Windows. Freedom, software quality, freedom, efficient use of available power, freedom, a quality initial install experience, freedom, and compliance with the license terms of the rest of the kernel all depend on this.

The LJ (959) readers have an interesting stand on driver licensing, by the way. I'll put the results of a survey question in the next issue.

Just how Ready for the Enterprise is it, on a scale of 1 to 10?

Bernard Golden came up with a great idea for open-source adoption and persuasion. Don't just say that a project is ready for serious use, put a number on it.

Longtime Linux and open source users seem to have an intuitive process for evaluating software, based on some weird combination of "did O'Reilly do a book on it yet", "does it build without compiler warnings", "do other programs I respect have docs on how to interoperate with it", and "Is the main support forum full of big deployment questions, or people with Yahoo ads in their sigs arguing about ripping up the architecture and starting over?"

In order to sell management on going with an open-source component, though, it helps to have a hard number. Carnegie Mellon University West Center for Open Source Investigation (long name!) is doing their own implementation of the project rating idea, "Business Readiness Ratings", with sponsorship from SpikeSource and Intel. I'll be checking this out.

The real fun will start when projects start doing things to boost their BRRs. (As sure as new communications technologies get spammed and new DRM schemes get disinfected, some wiseass will figure out how to get a high BRR for a nonfunctional project. All fun.)

If you're reading this you already missed Jerry Carter's Samba tutorial, a previous version of which kicked ass when I went at USENIX, and if I had to maintain Samba again I would make a point of going to again.

Peter Thoeny is doing a Twiki talk. Unless everyone in your organization can literally see the same bulletin board or whiteboard every day, there's probably room for a Wiki.

One of the most valuable parts about LinuxWorld is going around to the small and mid-size server vendors to see what parts they're using, to get a sanity check on the state of the hardware market. If you run into Tim Lee or Cosmo King at Pogo (338) or Justin Thiessen and Sam Ockman at Penguin, have a look at their systems.

And I must check in with the folks at EmperorLinux (111) about the state of the laptop wars. And I really need to learn Mambo (2013) one of these days.

Good: Debian (2037), EFF (2051), wait, the 2000s seems to be the "good" section. Fedora, FSF, Gentoo, GNOME, yay! The Forces of Evil don't really have a section, but they're here.