[fdn-ann] GNOME in NY Times and CNet.com


NY Times
Developers of Linux Software Planning Assault on Microsoft

Hoping an Alternative Suite of Applications Will Be More Widely Used
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 13 -- A group of key Linux software developers and major computer manufacturers are planning to announce on Tuesday at a Silicon Valley computer conference the first effort to compete directly with Microsoft's Office suite of applications for the personal computer.

Until now, the free Linux operating system has had its greatest impact in the computer server market, where many Internet service providers and World Wide Web applications and service companies routinely use the program.

While Linux has gained ground on the PC desktop as an alternative to Microsoft's Windows operating system, which holds a large share of the market, it has not yet been used more widely by businesses and consumers because it has not developed the wide application support enjoyed by both Windows and Apple Computer's Macintosh operating system.

That may soon change. On Tuesday, a group of Linux organizations will announce the creation of the Gnome Foundation, which will have the support of I.B.M., Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and several other major computer vendors.

The foundation plans to announce a set of initiatives, including a unified desktop user interface and a set of productivity programs intended to compete as a free alternative to Microsoft Office.

Gnome is a set of software standards developed by an international group of programmers led by Miguel de Icaza. The Gnome software has been gaining momentum in both the Linux and Unix communities as a way to offer a common software development environment for programmers.

Sun Microsystems also plans to announce that it will adopt the Gnome desktop user interface for its Solaris operating system. The move is part of the Linux effort to create a larger market for application developers. Last month, the company announced that it was releasing the source code for its StarOffice software, allowing programmers around the world to alter the software and share their work. The announcements to be made on Tuesday underscore both the progress that Linux has made toward becoming a viable alternative to Windows and the challenges that remain in persuading business and consumer computer users to adopt the free operating system.

Until now, the Linux system has had its greatest impact in the server market.

"What they're doing is extremely valuable," said Dan Dusnetzky, a computer industry analyst at the International Data Corporation, a market research firm. "However, there's a bigger issue that has not been addressed yet and that is the availability of the most popular desktop applications on Linux."

While Linux currently has about a 24 percent share of the server market, Microsoft's Windows has an 88 percent share of the desktop PC marketplace, while Apple's Macintosh has a 5 percent share.

Linux developers say that while progress until now has been limited, they are confident they can now rapidly close the gap on Microsoft.

"By the end of the year, we will have a desktop software operating system that compares favorably with Windows," said Mike Boiche, chairman of the Eazel Corporation. The company, founded by former Macintosh programmers, has been developing software called Nautilus, which is being integrated into the Gnome user interface for Linux. It is intended to make Linux as simple to use as Windows or Macintosh.

A variety of announcements intended to consolidate the momentum for the Linux operating system are planned for LinuxWorld, the conference scheduled to begin on Tuesday in San Jose, Calif.

On Friday, Hewlett-Packard said that it planned to make Linux its third "strategic" operating system in addition to Windows and HP-UX, its own version of the Unix operating system.

The Tuesday meeting itself will feature a keynote address by Michael S. Dell, chairman of Dell Computer, and will include an announcement from I.B.M. that it will make a Gnome version of Linux available on its Thinkpad portable computers as a user option.

Compaq is also planning to announce that it will make a version of its hand-held iPaq computer available with the Gnome Linux operating system on Tuesday.

Henzai, a start-up manufacturer of hand-held and Internet computing devices, also plans to announce its support for the Gnome desktop software.

Several executives who support Linux said they now felt confident that the free software world will soon have a direct competitor to Windows on the PC desktop.

"A year ago, we were missing the last mile," said Nat Friedman, president of Helixcode, the Cambridge, Mass., developer of Gnome and a set of PC applications. "But at the end of this year my mom could install Helix Gnome and Sun's StarOffice and have a total office environment."

August 14, 2000
Linux conference shows advances amid investor ennui
By Stephen Shankland, CNET News.com

Diminished Wall Street enthusiasm notwithstanding, the continuing progress of Linux in everything from golf carts to supercomputers will be visible at a Linux conference this week.

Start-ups and established companies will be fighting for the spotlight in San Jose, Calif., this week as the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo triggers a cascade of announcements and demonstrations of Linux technology.

The announcements highlight three areas into which Linux is spreading: its stronghold of servers, its continuing challenge of desktops and its new frontier of non-PC "embedded" computing devices.

When the stock market burped last March and investors withdrew their generous treatment of high-tech companies, Linux companies lost their vaunted status. But the software itself is still popular among computer makers, software companies and others betting that Linux will prevail.

Traditional computer makers such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computer and SGI are among the most aggressive to embrace Linux--and with reason. These manufacturers see Linux as a means to sell more hardware, software and services. They can add Linux to a stable of other products without having to rely on it the way Linux-specific companies such as Linuxcare, Red Hat or VA Linux Systems must.

Dell chief executive Michael Dell will deliver the conference's first keynote tomorrow. Dell is closely aligned with Red Hat in its Linux push.

IBM will announce a plan to release several software packages to the "open-source" community of programmers who collectively create Linux, said Robert LeBlanc, vice president of IBM's software group. Among them are the Andrew File System, a software package for sharing files across a network; a collection of 100 new printer drivers and the Omni printer driver framework for writing new drivers; and "dynamic probe" software to uncover bugs in software.

IBM also will demonstrate its memory-doubling technology for Linux, a development that won't be available in products until later, as well as unveil a new Linux product that joins together parcels of eight, 16, 24 or 32 Intel servers within a high-speed network. The product, with a starting price of $115,000, is primarily for number crunching and high-speed Web or email servers.

In addition, IBM will begin selling its NetVista thin clients now running TurboLinux's version of Linux, said Peter Hortensius, director of technology development at IBM's Personal Systems Group. IBM pays TurboLinux for support of the systems, he said.

HP is trying to unify its Linux efforts under a new organization, the Open Source and Linux Operation. HP also will release several software packages for Linux servers.

Meanwhile, SGI, a company that has bet much of its future on Linux, will show some of the more advanced systems at the show. It will demonstrate a 128-processor cluster of Linux servers acting as a single high-performance graphics workstation, as well as another system with eight Itanium processors, the company said. SGI will emphasize using Linux in scientific and technical computing, electronic design, biological-information processing, streaming media, e-commerce, digital film creation and other specialized tasks where SGI hopes to carve out a niche.

A host of start-ups also will be announcing new server products:

Great Bridge will tout measurements showing how its PostgreSQL-based database software stacks up against competitors, the company said.

Atipa will showcase its new protective firewall products that protect networks against attack.

WireX will show how easily its Immunix server software adds Web serving, email, file-sharing and printer-serving abilities.

Pervasive Software will show its Pervasive.SQL 2000 database software for Linux.

SteelEye will show new software to let Linux servers run Sendmail email software and Apache Web server software while insulating users from crashes.

On the desktop

Two start-ups in the Linux world--Eazel and Helix Code--are going to push Linux on the desktop, a difficult market because of Linux's technically abstruse roots and Microsoft's dominance.

Eazel has several former Apple Computer employees who designed the Macintosh's user interface, and Helix Code employs Miguel de Icaza, one of the key members of the Gnome desktop user interface and office application effort.

IBM laptops come with Caldera Systems' version of Linux, which uses the KDE user interface. IBM will begin bundling a CD to let people install Helix Code's user interface as well, the company said.

Sun Microsystems, ordinarily lukewarm toward Linux, also has an increasing presence on the desktop because of its advocacy of its StarOffice software, a competitor to Microsoft Windows.

One of the areas where Linux has taken hold is among gamers. Indrema, a company building a Linux-based video game console, will announce a partnership with Collab.Net to build a site for hosting the development of software to support next-generation games. The site, called the Indrema Developer Network, will use Collab.Net's SourceCast site for collaborative software development, the companies said.

Embedded Linux

Linux also will be making appearances in handheld gadgets and other nonstandard computing devices.

One unusual use will be from Applied Data, which will show embedded software used in golf carts. Applied Data has a browser that runs on Intel's StrongArm 1110 chip.

The golf cart application, from a company called ParView, lets golfers determine their location with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. The location information "provides golfers with graphical hole and green overviews with exact distancing, electronic scoring, a live tournament leader board, weather and safety messaging, two-way radio communication, and food and beverage ordering capability from the cart," the company said.

In addition, IBM will show its Linux-powered watch.

Also in the embedded market, Motorola will announce a new partnership. The wireless communications company, an investor in Caldera, Lineo, Linuxcare and LynuxWorks, is pushing to have Linux used on its telecommunications servers.

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