2006: What it All Means for the Penguin - page 2
June is Busting Out All Over
The Novell-Microsoft deal, as distasteful as it is to a lot of observers, is the crowning seal of Linux approval. The biggest purveyor of anti-Linux and anti-FOSS propaganda, misinformation and FUD made a deal with a Linux vendor. Whatever the merits of the deal itself, this is a gigantic validation of Linux in the enterprise. Microsoft is playing in the FOSS ballpark now, and it doesn't matter how reluctantly, or how much they try to twist the rules and change the game. You can't buy this kind of exposure. PHBs everywhere are looking at this and thinking "Huh. Microsoft does Linux, whatever that is. I better have some too."
Another significant event was Sun converting the Java license to the GPL, adding it to their array of open source server-side applications, including Solaris. Whatever your personal opinion of Java, Sun's Java has long been the standard. It can now be legally bundled with Linux, and it should put IBM's and Microsoft's Java implementations out to pasture for good.
Virtualization is all the rage, especially the kind that let admins run mixed operating systems on a single server. Finally, hardware virtualization comes to the x86 platform, thanks to Intel and AMD. This is huge--this arena has long been ruled by IBM's expensive mainframes. Now we little people get to play. Virtualization is going to be dominated by open source operating systems like Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and others as they get up to speed, because they are not encumbered by restrictive, complex, too-expensive licenses, and insane lock-in policies. It will be an attractive migration tool that allows users to migrate from Windows to Linux, for example, at their own pace. Just like dual-booting, but with the advantage of having both operating systems to use at the same time.
In the long-timid world of Tier 1 (HP, IBM, Dell) vendors, desktop and peripheral support continue to grow. All the Tier 1 vendors brag about their Linux server offerings, but anything else has been very slow in coming. But it's happening, and there is no turning back.
Hewlett-Packard has blatantly supported Linux on printers and multi-function devices for a few years. Now they are offering Red Hat workstations, and claim that all of their Personal Workstations support Linux. Just like their printers, they even post a matrix showing exactly what is supported. They're even making noises about Linux laptops. For all of this, I can almost forgive them for being paranoid spymasters.
Dell has a long history of making lot of noise about loving the penguin, but when you get to their Web site they bait-and-switch you. Links don't work, or they go to pages that sing the praises of Windows and don't even mention Linux. Or they give you FreeDOS. But even Dell is finally inching into the Linux desktop market for real. Though I'm puzzled why they have an image of a young girl leaping off a pier. Poor thing, did trying to purchase a Linux PC from Dell drive her into despondency?
Of course there are many places to purchase computers, both with Linux pre-installed and bare boxes with no operating system and no Windows tax. Check out the The Pre-Installed Linux Vendor Database. Hurrah to the fine folks who put this together--it's way overdue. Vote with your dollars, because that's the only language businesses understand.