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5 Top News Items From LinuxCon

  • August 23, 2011
  • By Sean Michael Kerner

There aren't many times during the calendar year when LinuxPlanet is focused on one event. The LinuxCon 2011 event was one such event as Linus Torvalds and a few thousand of his friends gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Linux. For this week's Linux roundup we'll have a LinuxCon focus, with a look at the top five things that came out of the event.

1) HP Trumpets WebOS then Crushes It.

HP had a major keynote at LinuxCon where it spoke about WebOS and how it's part of the Linux ecosystem. Phil Robb, director of the open source program office at HP explained how HP was contributing back to Linux. He also explained how HP uses Linux and open source technologies within WebOS.

Robb also gave away a TouchPad in front of the capacity crowd. Little did Robb (or anyone else) know what would happen next.

In a shocking move that Robb clearly did not know about, within an hour of his presentation, HP discontinued WebOS and the TouchPad tablet. In the days since then, HP has had a firesale selling off TouchPads for as low as $99 at retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada.

Efforts are already underway to port Android and Ubuntu to the TouchPad, which could give the hardware new life as a Linux device.

2) Linux on ARM and Android

One of the big growth areas for Linux is the mobile and embedded space. It's an area that's not without architectural challenges.

When it comes to the ARM chip architecture, Linux creator Linus Torvalds has had some issues. During his LinuxCon discussion, Torvalds noted that ARM doesn't have a standard platform in the same way that x86 has the PC.

Torvalds added that in his view ARM is a 'hodgepodge' of companies making random pieces of hardware. That said, he noted that he and the rest of the kernel developers have tried hard to include as much ARM as they can.

Ubuntu this week also made its views on ARM known. The next release of Ubuntu coming later this year will support both x86 and ARM.

3)The Future of Linux Virtualziation

One of the most shocking statements that came from Linus Torvalds during LinuxCon was about virtualization. According to Torvalds, "virtualization is evil." Torvalds noted that he's interested in hardware and anything that pulls him further away from the hardware isn't a good thing, for him.

Others in the Linux community are stronger advocates for virtualization, among them is Red Hat. This past week Red Hat announced the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3.0 (RHEV).

RHEV is notable in that it offers more performance than its predecessors and includes a new version of the KVM hypervisor.

It is also the first version of RHEV that does not require Windows. That's right, previous versions of the RHEV management system would only run on a Micrsoft Windows OS, thanks to some legacy software issues. Red Hat acquired the underlying RHEV technology as part of the acquisition of Qumranet in 2008. With RHEV 3.0, Red Hat has finally finished re-writing the code to a Java base that will run on Linux.

Virtualization is clearly part of the present and the future for Red Hat. That said, Red Hat's CEO doesn't know what the next 20 years of Linux will bring. During a LinuxCon keynote presentation Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst admitted that he doesn't know where Linux will go next.

Whitehurst stressed that technology isn't the only thing that is important to the Linux ecosystem. In his view it's the technology that Linux enables that is the key as is the underlying collaborative development model.

"Linux, because of its nature and it's 'free as in beer' approach, allows people to try new things and it enables new levels of innovation that couldn't have happened before," Whitehurst said. "Companies like Google would not exist if it were not for Linux."

4) Linux 3.03 Released

Often at conferences, developers will stand up and talk about their work. Sometimes the brave ones will actually do a live demo of what they are working on.

Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman is a different type of presenter.

Instead of just doing a live demo, Kroah-Hartman did a live release at LinuxCon. That's right, a real bona fide Linux kernel release was done in front of a live audience (now posted on YouTube for all to see).

Kroah-Hartman released Linux 3.0.3 the latest stable release of the mainline Linux kernel. The new release is a stability and bugfix kernel

5) Linus Torvalds -- 'A Real Man?'

The highlight for many people of this past week of LinuxCon events was Linus Torvalds' conversation with Greg Kroah-Hartman, live on stage.

Sure Torvalds told the audience that virtualization is evil and that ARM has some issues. He also noted (somewhat jokingly) that application developers are "weenies" and not real men like kernel developers.

Torvalds also admitted that he doesn't do all that much code development anymore. Rather, he has more of a mentoring role, steering wayward kernel developers towards the right path. It's a path that he reassured LinuxCon attendees, that he'll be on for years to come, not necessarily for altruistic reasons, but so he can pay the bills.

"I think Jim (Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation) can rest easy, knowing that as long as I have to get my kids through college and I don't want to live under a bridge, I'll be doing kernel work," Torvalds said.

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