Want to "Go" to Novell's Brainshare and See Linus? -- And a Word on Ms. DiDio's "Independent" Survey

by Pamela Jones

March 25 2004

I have just discovered that parts of Novell's Brainshare conference are available as video. There were 6,000 attendees at Brainshare's opening session. That's a lot of people. I discovered the video by visiting Nat Friedman's blog [ http://www.nat.org/2004/march/ ], and he has a link to the video of the opening session and his Ximian presentation [ http://www.novell.com/brainshare/keynotes/2004mondaykeynote.ram ]. His part is about an hour and a half in and Real Media Player only.

After I watched that video, I hopped over to Novell's site to hunt for more, and they have a lot more videos [ http://www.novell.com/brainshare/ ] from the conference, so help yourself.

I got a real feel for what Novell is doing with SuSE Linux from this conference. They are making Linux easy enough for your mom. That includes the enterprise solutions. Wait until you see their patch demo. So much for retraining costs if you want to switch to GNU/Linux. You don't need retraining to know how to click on an icon. This is the end of Microsoft's FUD about TCO being higher if you switch to Linux, methinks, the lovely and tireless Ms. DiDio notwithstanding. Well, the end of anybody taking it seriously. She'll probably continue her quest, despite the tipping point already being reached. They are also designing SuSE Linux's desktop so that it can interoperate with Windows users easily.

Brainshare is still going on, by the way, through the 26th. A live webcast of Friday's general session will be available via Flash and Real Media Player beginning at 8:45 a.m. Mountain Time on Friday. You can register on this page [ http://www.novell.com/brainshare/ ]. I don't know what it costs.

If you don't like Flash or Real Media Player, Messman's and Stone's speeches are available (or will be) as PDFs from links on this page [ http://www.novell.com/brainshare/keynotes2004.html ], the same page where you'll find links to the videos, including speeches by Jim Stallings [ http://www-1.ibm.com/linux/news/stallings.shtml ] of IBM and Martin Fink of HP. HP and Novell are now partnering [ http://www.novell.com/news/press/archive/2004/03/pr04031.html ] to offer SuSE Linux on HP Compaqs on desktops and notebooks, or as the press release puts it, from desktop to data center. To see these presentations, scroll down to March 24, just above the second Chris Stone photo, and click on the "video with audio" link.

Linus is interviewed on Nat's video, throws some Tshirts to the audience and says that there is no UNIX in Linux. I enjoyed watching that part, partly because it's Linus and he's just pleasant, and partly because it was amusing watching him not let himself be forced to say things he didn't intend to say. I am in learning mode. (Bob Mims has an interview today with Linus [ http://www.sltrib.com/2004/mar/03252004/utah/150990.asp ] too, page one of the Salt Lake Tribune.) CEO Jack Messman gives a welcoming speech ("Novell is back") and Chris Stone speaks after that, or more accurately becomes the master of ceremonies, and he interviews Linus and helps throw Tshirts.

But the most interesting part, to me, on that video was the demo that Friedman gives of their Ximian desktop. If you are wondering if it's for you, you might like to take a look. He quickly shows how to do email with Evolution, which I use every day on Mandrake and can personally recommend, doing IM with GAIM (interoperating with MSN Messenger on a Windows box, via each using GroupWise, which is being made available [ http://www.novell.com/news/press/archive/2004/01/pr04009.html ] as beta), and also how to share documents with the new P2P version of IFolder [ http://forge.novell.com/modules/xfmod/project/?ifolder ], which Novell has open sourced. HP's Martin Fink tells how he forgot to bring one slide with him and was able to get it in time, ten minutes before his presentation, using IFolder. Friedman says the idea is to be able to interoperate with others, including those on Windows boxes.

There's a demo of YaST setting up a DNS server, AutoYaST for sysadmins, and the YaST Online Update (on the Friedman first-day video). They also show Red Carpet installing new software lickety-split. Novell provided laptops so attendees could try out GNU/Linux while they were there, and set up wireless hotspots, so everyone could keep up with their email. It looked like a fun conference. There's a short cartoony Lord of the Rings takeoff, "Lord of the Net", about Linux. I must be the only human left who hasn't seen that movie, so I didn't know what was what, but everyone there seemed to enjoy it. There are some funny anti-butterfly spots too. I liked the one called Worm.

Bottom line to me was this: It was all GUI'd to the max and so easy my mom could do it. In fact, I may just get SuSE desktop for her as a gift. She has quit using her computer because she can't stand all the problems she has trying to get XP to do what she wants and because of virus, worm, and other security worries, which make her too nervous to be able to enjoy using the computer. She told me she realizes she doesn't know what she is doing, so she figures the only way not to end up a zombie is not to use her computer at all. She doesn't want to become part of the problem, so she's using her typewriter again. Sigh.

The Brainshare video on business solutions was intriguing. Notebooks with SuSE Linux installed are on the way from HP, according to HP's Fink. For that matter, they will have one SuSE Linux platform from laptop to data center, which is the part he says he likes. He seems more corporate than open source, but that's what this part was about, so it fit in. Fink talks up their indemnity program, and he claims HP and Novell worked out the details together. I will never endorse any indemnification that requires the customer to ask permission to modify, however. They don't seem to have noticed that they gave a demo on how easy it is to patch every day, but if you are under the indemnification program, would you have to ask permission every day first, I wondered, or is it automatic if you use their tool and only their tool? Fink also twice suggests that nobody go to LinuxWorld next year and that everyone just go to Brainshare instead. That sounded a bit strange.

IBM's Stallings' presentation was, to me, the best of breed in the business class at Brainshare. Stone says Stallings was a Marine, and he has that efficient, can-do aura. He says that SuSE Linux and Ximian now run across all IBM platforms, as does Level 3+ certification. IBM is preloading Linux [ http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB20040324S0007 ] on servers, as you can read on TechWeb:

"Previously, both Red Hat's and SuSE's arrangements with IBM meant that, while customers could custom order Linux with new servers, the operating- system software was actually shipped separately by the Linux distributors for customers to install themselves."

Here's one Groklaw reader's take:

"Note that. Previously, when you bought a 'Linux server' from IBM, IBM didn't ship you the linux CDROMs. That enabled IBM to avoid many of the (imagined?) legal risks as a 'distributor' of Linux.

"Now IBM themselves are installing and sending you a copy of Linux. If Linux were infringing on anyone's copyrights, what IBM is doing would increase their liability.

"Does IBM look scared? Not from this angle."

What I got from Stallings' presentation was the incredible growth of GNU/Linux worldwide. IBM is not only offering GNU/Linux solutions, it is offering training and help for businesses wishing to migrate to Linux or become certified to 3+. Of course, that is their business. Linux, he says, is the fastest growing operating system in the world today, and the fastest growing OS in the history of charting OSs. Last year, the desktop grew 44%, which means tens of millions of desktops. It isn't just desktops, he says, but it's everything moving at some rate to Linux. Their blades, for example, are now 70% Linux. So they have Linux Competency centers (you can test things out before installing, check for security, whatever you wish to try before rollout), and 600 Linux coders in IBM's Linux Technology Center writing Linux code, and he says 80% of what they write ends up being accepted into the kernel. The train has left the station, and SCO isn't on it. This could have been SCO, had they not turned traitor.

In harmony with all this upbeat news, Red Hat is picking up customers like mad. Robert McMillan has the figures [ http://www.linuxworld.com.au/index.php/id;169836313;fp;2;fpid;1 ], up 43%:

"The company gained 4,000 new customers and sold 87,000 subscriptions for its Red Hat's Enterprise Linux software during the quarter, Red Hat said. Of that, 61,000 subscriptions were sold into the enterprise IT market and 26,000 were sold in to high-performance computing and Web hosting space, Red Hat said.

"International sales for the Raleigh, North Carolina, company grew by 107 percent, and amounted to 32 percent of Red Hat's income, said company chief executive officer Matthew Szulik, in a telephone news conference. 'International has been an area of investment throughout the fiscal year,' he said."

This harmonizes with the IDC figures which Stallings quotes, one of which being that GNU/Linux will outstrip Windows in the server space by 2006. Stallings says that there are a couple of reasons businesses are switching, especially small and medium businesses. First, it's to escape the license chokehold, being dependent on just one vendor. And second, it's total cost of ownership.

The "Independent" TCO Survey

Despite the lovely and tireless Laura DiDio's yoga-like contortions [ http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1553620,00.asp ] to try to make it seem like it's more expensive to switch to Linux than to upgrade Windows (maybe if you look at a one-month time frame, the month you switch and retrain -- but what about longterm?), Stallings says that businesses now are factoring into their TCO analysis the security snafus they struggle with in Microsoft products, and the expense, and they are sick of it. DiDio's charts don't include such info, of course, so they are now on Microsoft Watch, where they belong. More of Microsoft's "independent" analyses. And her survey doesn't factor in Novell's new SuSE Linux offerings, which really wipe away the retraining issues, if the videos I saw match the reality, and there's no reason to assume they don't.

By the way, one of the guys on Yahoo! Finance's message board, nobbutl, posted [ http://finance.messages.yahoo.com/bbs?.mm=FN&action=m&board=1600684464&tid=cald&sid=1600684464&mid=115368 ] that the lovely and tiresome Ms. DiDio did her "independent" survey with Sunbelt Software. And who are [ http://whitepapers.informationweek.com/detail/ORG/1053625882_36.html ] these dispassionate scientists working with Ms. DiDio and Yankee Group on their quest for TCO truth?:

"Located in Tampa Bay, Florida, Sunbelt Software is the first and one of the largest providers of "best-of-breed" Windows NT, 2000/2003 utilities, supplying the tools necessary to support a Windows NT/2000 infrastructure. Working in partnership with innovative software developers, Sunbelt Software produces leading edge utilities and provides mainframe quality technical support. Sunbelt Software Inc. is a member of the 2001 Inc. 500 list of America's fastest growing companies. . . .

"Sunbelt is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner interested in what Windows network administrators need to solve their NT/2000 problems. We are constantly surveying NT/2000 administrators to determine which utilities are most in demand, and we then release best-of-breed solutions, leveraging the Internet as our primary marketing medium. Our client list contains over 90% of the Fortune 1000."

No axe to grind there, huh? Mary Jo Foley might wish to rewrite her headline. If you are interested, here [ http://www.sunbelt-software.com/surveys/040213_Linux.htm ] are the actual survey questions. It seems it was all done online, not by phone calls, and only announced to W2Knews readers [ http://www.w2knews.com/index.cfm?id=463 ]. Here's how W2Knews describes itself [ http://www.w2knews.com/about-us.cfm ]:

"Sunbelt W2Knews is the World's first and largest e-zine designed for NT/2000 System Admins and Power Users that need to keep these platforms up & running. Every week we get you pragmatic, from-the-trenches news regarding NT/2000 and 3-rd party System Management Tools. W2Knews will help you to better understand NT/2000 and pass your Certification Exams. You will get breaking news like new tools, service packs, hot sites, or warnings about killer viruses via W2KNews Flashes. Sunbelt Software is THE NT/2000 e-business system tools site."

See any preselection in this process? How scientific is this survey?

Microsoft needs to get better at its FUD. This was too easy. What they are good at is killing competition, and a Samba guy says [ http://theregister.co.uk/content/4/36520.html ] the EU decision leaves MS with a strong anti-open source hand it can play. Linus in his interview says the biggest threat to Linux is patents.

07:59 AM EST

Copyright 2004 http://www.groklaw.net/ - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/