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LinuxWorld preview: Hurdling the desktop barrier

NEW YORK -- The 2.6 kernel has made Linux enterprise ready, many experts have said since it was released last month. Enhancements make it a formidable server operating system platform, and now the next barrier to fall is the desktop. In this interview prior to LinuxWorld Conference and Expo this week, Codeweavers CEO Jeremy White talks about corporate interest in desktop Linux, UserLinux and some of the must-see technologies during the show. White will host a LinuxWorld session called "The Penguin on the Desk" on Wednesday.

On the same subject, do you think that Microsoft will buy a Linux distribution?
That's an interesting question. At some point I believe, Microsoft is going to have to embrace Linux. I don't know when that will be, or how they will respond. However, they are among the smartest and shrewdest business folks on the planet, so I think it will be spectacular. Harry the programmer would like to push Linux/OSS adoption at CompanyX, but his CTO insists on Unix or Microsoft, or another OS. Will something at LinuxWorld benefit Harry and/or CompanyX?
Absolutely. His boss has objections; every reasonable boss would. What Harry is going to see is that real people with normal everyday bosses have successfully used Linux in every way imaginable. He'll get to talk to these real people, swap stories with them, and learn how they overcame those barriers. Which big names should IT pros try to meet at the show? Or, what sessions are 'must attend' for them?
I think the keynote by (chairman of the board and CEO, Novell, Inc.) Jack Messman should be interesting, and I'd be interested in the Amazon story. I find real-world user stories very interesting. Then there are many, many sessions, all of which look to be quite good, but if you want a hidden nugget: The least sung but coolest Linux technology is LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project).


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How effective will Microsoft's 'Get the Facts' ad campaign be? What message will Microsoft bring to Linux users at LinuxWorld?
Microsoft tried a campaign to claim that the GPL was evil and viral. By their admission it backfired badly. Look for this one to backfire, perhaps not quite as badly.

On the other hand, what else can Microsoft say? And, candidly, if all of your support staff knows Microsoft backwards and forwards and don't know diddly about Linux, then it may well be more cost effective to stick with Windows. It's not an invalid message; it's just couched a bit rudely. How much interest will there be in UserLinux?
That's hard to say. If there continues to be Gnome vs. KDE controversy, I suspect a fair amount, because that kind of dirt is interesting. Will the Novell/SuSE booth be mobbed at LinuxWorld? If so, will Novell and SuSE have the technologies needed to hold the mob's interest?
Yes, it will absolutely be mobbed, although I understand they have a lot of space, so it should work out. If Sun keeps rolling with its Java Desktop System (JDS), and if Novell comes out swinging for the desktop, it will be the first time in nearly 10 years that there will be any interesting competition for the desktop space. And since most of us interact with a desktop or laptop, this is a change that would touch us all most directly. At LinuxWorld, what new technologies and/or products should be on IT pros' 'must-see' list?
I think the 'must see' technologies this year are the various Linux desktop offerings. Any IT pro who isn't seriously considering a Linux desktop solution for their organization should start now.

Unfortunately, the truly cool things happening in the Linux technical space probably won't be easy to see at the show. The 2.6 kernel, for example, does some amazing things, but that's not easy to see just by walking around. Go out on a limb: Predict the top story for LinuxWorld.
Hmm. I'm going to swing for the fences: SCO's suit will be dismissed. SCO Group is not hosting a booth at LinuxWorld. Do you wish they would? Why? Or, why not? And, should IT pros continue to follow the SCO flap, or is that a waste of their time?
No, they shouldn't host a booth, and I'm glad they are not. I feel that IT pros should flat out disregard this. Candidly, SCO's case isn't even strong enough to be an interesting test of the GPL, for example. Anyone who is at all concerned should read up at I look forward to that whole nonsense being dismissed.

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