Feature

Linux keeper and SpikeSource CEO talk about open source

Accommodating large patch sets in Linux is expected to mean separating version 2.7 of the platform to accommodate these changes, according to Andrew Morton, lead maintainer of the Linux kernel for Open Source Development Labs (OSDL).

Commenting on the planned 2.7 release of the Linux kernel, Morton said OSDL expects a few individuals with big patch sets will want to include them in the kernel. But there will be no place to put them.

At some point Linux founder Linus Torvalds will separate Version 2.7 to accommodate the changes, Morton said at the SDForum open-source conference.

Discussing the requirements and planning process for Linux, Morton said Linux is guided by standards such as Posix and IEEE. "Either features will come at us or they won't," Morton said. He cited clustering as a feature sought for Linux.

OSDL does not anticipate, for example, having to ever rewrite the kernel, which would take 15 years, Morton said. Top contributors to the Linux kernel have been Red Hat Software and SuSE, he said. Also contributing have been IBM, Silicon Graphics, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel.

OSDL has high standards for Linux, he said. The drivers that OSDL sees for other operating systems are not up to Linux standards, Morton said.

Asked about Sun Microsystems's plans to provide Solaris technologies on an open source basis, Morton said this was a good first step but that a community would then need to develop around the platform after it becomes open source.

"Ask me in two years' time [about open source Solaris]. They need to develop a community and learn how to interact," said Morton.

Successful open-source projects have largely focused on providing legacy infrastructure, which is 30-year-old technology, Morton said. Open source has focused on software such as the operating system, kernels, runtime libraries, and word processors, Morton said.

"Leading-edge projects are the exception in the open-source world," he said. If anyone is developing leading-edge technology, "they should get their act together and form a company and take a shot at getting rich with it", said Morton.

Even the Linux kernel itself is based on 30-year-old technology, Morton said.

Morton panned SCO's lawsuit against IBM over Linux code issues. "We have sufficient faith in the legal system because we are expecting it all to fall over because it has no basis," Morton said.

Kim Polese, chief executive of SpikeSource, described the open-source movement as forever changing the IT market.

"There has been a lot of talk about doom and gloom when it comes to IT," Polese said. "But in fact, I believe there is a profound movement underway."

"I believe we are entering the most exciting decade for software development that we have seen," with a cross-section of open-source and enterprise IT representing the heart of the new era, Polese said.

In the old marketplace, a top-down model had suppliers in control of technologies and customers. But now, customers are beginning to supply themselves and take charge. "That is why we are seeing companies drop prices right and left," Polese said.

"Increasingly, open-source software is higher quality and is starting to meet the capabilities of commercial software and in some cases is overtaking commercial software," said Polese. "What is different about this new marketplace is nobody rules."

No one supplier, not Microsoft or IBM, can dominate anymore, Polese added. Companies that fight this change in the marketplace will not survive, she said.

"I don't believe the old model is ever coming back," Polese said.

The internet also has impacted technology providers, she said. "Certainly no supplier would have allowed something like the internet to happen. No supplier controls it," Polese said.

Also at the conference, Rob Gingell, who until recently served as chief engineer at Sun Microsystems, said he has left the company to serve as chief technology officer at Cassatt, which was formed in September 2003 and is focused on grid computing and service-oriented architecture technologies.

Gingell joins Cassatt chairman/chief executive Bill Coleman, who was founding chief executive of BEA Systems and a former head of Sun's professional services and development.

Paul Krill writes for InfoWorld


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This was first published in November 2004

 

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