July 2007


Paul Murphy posted a ZDnet blog entry entitled “Leveraging Linux to sell yourself” which describes his plan and ideas around using Linux to help climb the corporate ladder from low-level tech to a higher level engineering job.  It was an interesting read, although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says. I did note that he suggested using Linux as the differentiator for you to get noticed at work.  He could have said Vista or some other hot technology in our world, but he specifically called out Linux… and Linux on the desktop at that.  Why do you think that was?

Linux is clearly one of the hot topics in the IT industry these days, and is being adopted by organizations of every size and varying levels of experience. So while it may be challenging to change your Windows environment to an all-Linux environment over-night, introducing Linux “gently” certainly couldn’t hurt. When getting started, you don’t need to focus on replacing established servers with Linux, start with “new workloads” instead. If needed, get some training/self-study, and consider these low-risk ways to give Linux a try:

  • Set up a departmental file server with Samba, maybe just for the IT group
  • Set up a small LAMP server for a company intranet (don’t forget AppArmor)
  • Set up a utility server using Linux (e.g., backup, monitoring tool, gateway, etc.)
  • Set up a new (incoming) application on Linux
  • Give Linux on the desktop a try
  • (Any other ideas?  Post a comment below.)

I often check in on the ExpressComputerOnline site, one of the sites that covers India’s business and IT community, where I found Kushal Shah’s well done interview with Maarten Koster, Novell’s President of Asia Pacific.

Excerpts from the interview:

Where is Novell positioned in the market?

“… We are playing in the business segment, be it medium or large. As part of our go-to-market strategy, we have tied up with one of the major universities in China wherein we load Linux on all laptops.”

Can you tell us about the trends that are shaping the Linux market?

“Linux started off in the middle segment of the market whereas we started at the top end and have already captured about 90 percent of the IBM mainframe segment which runs SUSE Linux. Our competitors were focused on the middle end. As the distribution network is expanding we are moving to the middle layer and the data centre space and our competitors are going towards the top end.”

Is Server Consolidation and Virtualization picking up?

“… All the CIOs I have spoken to have virtualisation on their radar screens. These two things, security and virtualisation, are on the radars of all the companies.”

Read more of the interview here.

RossB

I recently completed presenting a round of “Southeast” Linux Day seminars in Atlanta GA, Nashville TN and Orlando FL. We had a simply fantastic turnout for Nashville and Orlando – hundreds of folks registered to attend and rooms were filled in both cities. We had a good showing in Atlanta too, although the room was way too big… In light of the typical summer vacation season, our expectations were far exceeded overall. In all three cities we had tons of engaging questions, and I really enjoyed meeting many of you face-to-face. It’s clear that interest in Linux, and in particular SUSE Linux Enterprise is not just alive and kicking, but very strong!

So, thank you to all cities for giving us a warm reception, and thank you to the attendees for your participation and involvement! Also, a big thanks to our partner Mainline Information Systems who helped sponsor the Orlando and Atlanta events!

Based on the success we’ve been having, we’ll definitely be back soon! Stay tuned for more upcoming events (or just sign up for our newsletter). And look out Charlotte NC, we’re coming next week (7/31)!

As I mentioned at each event, if you want a copy of the slides – shoot me an email, visit our post-event website or simply keep an eye out for the post-event email message.

It’s certainly one of the hot topics of discussion in OSS circles… should video drivers be open source or proprietary? Ideally two of top three major video chipset manufacturers (namely ATI and Nvidia) could be convinced that they should fully open source their video drivers for the benefit of all. ATI info is here and here.  Nvidia info is here.  Intel already releases open source drivers for at least some of their chipsets, if not all. The general reply to those requests has always been that they won’t because it would expose their secret sauce to their competitors and they would lose their performance edge. I don’t know enough about the techie details to comment on the validity of those claims, but one thing is certain – end users don’t really care. Typical end users just want their video cards to work. That’s why you’ll find SLED 10 offering support for both proprietary and open source drivers out of the box.

Will the proprietary and open source drivers offer the same features and performance? In a word – No. An interesting review (a bit dated now, but still interesting) from Phoronix directly compared the open source driver to the proprietary driver for an ATI video card. Check out the results here to see what they found out.

Clearly, pressure is mounting as Dell and Google have been ramping up the requests/pressure on ATI to get more open drivers for these chipsets. Hey, the more the merrier! This will be an interesting space to watch as things develop…

From the press release:

SUNNYVALE, Calif., July 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SGI and NASA today announced that the agency has selected a record-setting SGI(R) Altix(R) supercomputer in its evaluation of next-generation technology to meet future high-performance computing (HPC) requirements. The system was acquired as part of NAS Technology Refresh (NTR), a four-phase procurement process that eventually will replace the Columbia supercomputer system, powered by SGI Altix.

NASA’s new SGI Altix system is expected to be installed in August at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The new system will be the first supercomputer to operate 2,048 processor cores and 4TB of memory under a single copy of Linux(R) — creating the largest Linux single system image (SSI) in the world. A larger SSI can accelerate scientific research by making all of the system’s processors and memory available to solve a single problem, or several problems at once.

Driven by 1,024 Dual-Core Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2 processors, the new system will generate 13.1 TFLOPs of compute power. The system’s dual-core processors allow more computing power per square foot, enabling NASA to pack more computing power into its supercomputing center. NASA also acquired an ultra-dense 240TB SGI(R) InfiniteStorage 10000 system to efficiently handle the massive data storage requirements.

Read more. 

Now that’s a lot of processors in one spot, guess they’ll be putting in a couple of new Carrier AC units to keep that one cool!

RossB

Wow, sometimes you think you’re really tied into a product and who’s using it and where, but even I was surprised at the amount of people and institutions deploying, using and enhancing OpenOffice.org. The vast majority are kind enough to take the time to document their experiences so others can take advantage of those findings.

I can’t tell you how many discussions, presentations and other encounters I have had lately where people have been so kind as to share their objections and misgivings about OpenOffice vs Microsoft Office, and partly I wanted to make this roundup into a set of references that could easily and quickly be investigated by those who are OO-curious and want to go and see who is doing what and how with this great office suite.

Blogs and Articles

A very interesting blog posting recently by one Nate Grondin on the subject of OO in Schools started off this research project, and as I write this, there are over 50 Firefox tabs with relevant info waiting to be included somehow, this is an incredibly rich area of progress on the Open Source front.

Another interesting site and resource is the OpenOffice Training, Tips and Ideas blog, with a lot of good articles, links to free and commercial training and books etc, subscribe to the RSS feed and keep an eye on this one.

Projects and Coordination Sites

The Education Project, hosted on the OpenOffice.org site is a great starting place for those who want to help educators and students, either in classes or individually to help develop OO.o. The goal of the project is: “to help teachers as well as students or anybody involved in education to enter the OpenOffice.org project and find a place where to contribute or to find informations.” With it’s tools and development categories, it’s user and development lists and other documentation, this is a great resource for the Education community.

The openSUSE.org site has a great education page, run by our friend James Tremblay from Newmarket NH. The goals of the project are to:

  • Catalog and collect all educational software built or converted to run on Linux
  • Separate all cataloged software into server and desktop categories
  • subdivide all collected software into it’s curricula discipline and age groups
  • build the “Edu-cd” (which is an add-on CD/DVD specifically for education tools/programs)

Additionally, on this page you can find links to the Education News, how to make an account and get involved, the IRC channel info, links to the Education Application Index including the currently collected lists of Desktop and Server Education Programs, HowTo’s and a Wishlist. This is an excellent project to get involved in, it’s very easy to contribute and you’ll get a lot out of it.

Another resource on the OpenOffice.org website is the Major OpenOffice.org Deployments Wiki, where a complete world-wide overview of deployments of OpenOffice.org are listed by categories including Governments, Schools and Universities, Private Sector and other areas. There are 14+ major deployments listed in North America in the Schools and Education category, there must be more, get your deployment listed and join in.

Other major resources you’ll find as part of the OpenOffice.org site are the OpenOffice Marketing Project, the Why OpenOffice Wiki and the very comprehensive Case for Switching (to OpenOffice.org) Wiki pages.

The most authoritative location for documentation of OO.o is the official OpenOffice Documentation Project site. With it’s plethora of information, links and resources, and broken up into Users and Developers sections, this is the main location for OO.o documentation and it’s creation. If you want to contribute to the project, go here and get started.

The OSDI project is one that wants to distribute OO.o CD’s to people in dis-advantaged environments, they’re raising money and almost have the amount they need to do the first big push, give ’em a few bucks and help get OO.o into people’s hands and their computers and free ’em from the Microsoft Tax.

Focusing on the K-12 market is a great site called K12OS whose goal is to provide news, links, resources and discussion about the use of Open Source in the K-12 market. With it’s discussion forums, listserv’s and loads of links, this should be on every educator’s daily rotation.

Training and Tutorials

Linked off the official OpenOffice Documentation Project siteand the OpenOffice.org Wiki, but not obvious, is an incredible resource called the OOo Help Outline, with it’s long list of FAQ’s, HowTo’s and per-application help documentation it’s a must for everyone.

Then visit the somewhat simplistic but very useful Tutorials for OpenOffice howto site. Check out the various categories, organized by the application in OO.o, and contribute if you feel so moved.

Next up, is the ByteBot site with it’s OpenOffice.org training materials. You can download the materials and use them, just please do ask them if you use the materials commercially. They also have a rudimentary Linux training course you can get the same way. ByteBot also has an archive of the mysteriously missing OpenOffice Unofficial FAQ, which should be located at OOAuthors, but seems to not be linked properly.

A very nicely done site and great resource is the iTrainOnline site, it offers Open Source documentation and courseware, including OO.o Write and Impress mini-courses.

Statistics, Other Roundups and Misc.

The OpenOffice.org Market Share Analysis site is excellent for those who want to see how OO.o is making inroads in their market, or to show others that a grassroots change is happening, or just to keep an eye on the numbers and see what is happening in each area for OO.o deployments.

Last, and surely winning an award for the most links in a single HTML page is the Why Open Source in Schools article. I have yet to fully investigate the articles, lists and other resources listed there, but I’ll add the most useful ones to the Education page for our blog.

Hopefully this roundup is helpful for everyone, we’re very serious about helping Open Source get implemented in the Education environment. If you have resources or think we missed something, or might have a cool project you want to get some free publicity for (subject to review and approval) leave a comment or email me.

RossB

On the lighter side of Virtualization (some would say PLEASE!) is a fun article from the RoudyBob blog, wherein the author likens the board game of RISK to the worldwide Virtualization Market.

A very entertaining and spot-on posting from a blog that I will be adding to my must-read list.

Enjoy,

RossB

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