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OSDL Linux Summit--A Conference with Some Differences

The New Conference Paradigm?

  • December 30, 2004
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

At first glance, the upcoming OSDL (Open Source Development Lab) Linux Summit looks more or less like any other industry conference. Actually, though, organizers of the summit--set for January 31 to February 2, 2005 in Burlingame, CA--followed "exactly the opposite" course of action in putting together the first-time event, according to Nelson Pratt, the OSDL�s director of marketing.

In checking out existing Linux conferences, the OSDL saw certain holes, Pratt said, in an interview with LinuxPlanet. There was nothing available that fully met the OSDL's mission of "accelerating the adoption of Linux in the enterprise."

The summit, coming up early next year, features separate tracks for technical pros, legal specialists, and business decision-makers, all tailored to speeding up enterprise adoption.

Some of the technical sessions will be targeted at helping to make experienced Linux developers "faster and more comfortable" at writing code, Pratt said. Other tech sessions are for enterprise developers who are new--or only slightly familiar with--Linux.

Most developers attending these sessions will be employees of large corporations, although some might be smaller ISVs who work as consultants to enterprises.

"But if you are a Linux hobbyist or home user, there are other shows for you. This is not the one," he elaborated.

Highlights of the summit will include two keynote panels, plus an OSDL "Meet the Experts" forum. One of the keynotes, to be moderated by OSDL CEO Stuart Cohen, will revolve around an "open conversation" with Linux luminaries Linus Torvalds; Andrew Morton, maintainer of the 2.6 Linux kernel; Brian Behlendorf, CTO and co-founder, CollabNet; and Mitch Kapor of the OSA Foundation about the increasing importance of Linux and open source software in the IT environment.

In the second keynote, being led by IDC�s Dan Kusnetsky, a roundtable will explore the topic "Utility Computing and the ISV Opportunity." Panelists will include Dave McAllister, VP of product marketing, Cassatt; Carl Kesselman, co-founder, Globus Alliance; and Akmai Khan, CEO of Levanta.

To fit in closely with industry expectations, the OSDL is relying on the customary model of one day of tutorials, followed by two days of conference sessions.

How, then, is OSDL�s approach different from that of other conference organizers? Generally, conferences first put out a call for papers, Pratt pointed out. The conference agenda and speaker roster are then based around whatever papers are then submitted and selected.

With the OSDL Linux Summit, on the other hand, the reverse will hold true. "We are deciding first which areas need to be covered, and then finding the right speakers," he said.

The inclusion of a legal track is also unusual, Pratt acknowledged. Controversises surrounding the SCO case were a major catalyst.

Legally oriented attendees will include corporate inhouse legal counsel, as well as outside law firms that work with enterprises, he said.

Subtitled "OSS (Open Source Software) & the Law," the legal track will include tutorials and conference sessions on open source licensing issues and best practices; GPL (Gnu General Public License) issues; and the implications of SCO litigation on open software.

Business decision-makers will take tutorials and sessions on topics such as "OSS vs. Proprietary: The Business Decision," "Relative Maturity of Different OSS Communities," and "Helping Enterprise Architects Make the Transition," to name a few.

The technical tutorials will consist of "Reviewing the Use of OSS in the Enterprise" and "Developing Linux Applications Using Eclipse."

In the technical conference sessions, Morton will talk on two topics: "OSS Patch Submission, Acceptance Process, Working with the Kernel Community--Insider Secrets of Success for ISVs on Linux" and "Taking Advantage of 2.6 Kernel Enhancements for Your Application."

Other tech conference sessions will include "Marrying Linux and Java--Best Practices;� "Benefits of Participation in the Open Source Development Community;" "Unix to Linux Migration;" and "Securing Linux in the Enterprise."

The OSDL�s upcoming sumimit will also encompass an exhibit floor, showcasing Linux vendors and other organizations that include Red Hat Software; Computer Associates (CA); AMD (Advanced Micro Devices); Aduva; Barracuda Networks; Black Duck Software; DigitalGuru; Eclipse Foundation; Gelato; Levanta; Novell; Open Country; OverNite Software; and RLX Software.

The "OSDL Meet the Experts" forum will take place on the expo floor. It will be staffed by OSDL and other Linux experts, who will talk about how the OSDL is working with open source and Linux communities in attempts to improve Linux and accelerate adoption.

More than 60 member organizations and affiliates belong to the OSDL, ranging from large systems vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard; to major Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell/SuSE Linux; to user organizations; chipmakers; telecom and storage companies; small ISVs; and more.

Pratt is quick to point out, though, that the OSDL is trying to complement--rather than compete with--other Linux conferences.

Will the summit turn into an annual event? It�s too early to tell right now, he said.

"But if this has a positive impact [on other conferences], it's possible that it'll just fade away," Pratt told LinuxPlanet.

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