I was in San Diego earlier this week for the 4th Desktop Linux Summit, and gave a talk on Tuesday. Though I can’t compare with other years, the turnout and the buzz were good, and the content was excellent. There was a Main Session track, a Using Desktop Linux track, and a Future of Desktop Linux track. Usually I get distracted at conferences (especially if Mozilla developers are around), but made a point this time of attending as many talks as I could. Here’s my take on what happened based on the talks I attended.
Geoff Perlman, the CEO is REAL Software (not to be confused with REAL Networks), summed up the Linux adoption problem as having its roots in a software drought. This is improving every day of course. Windows solved the problem with VB a long time ago, and Mac suffered a similar problem around the time of OS10. Geoff’s threw his REALBasic solution into the mix, a space shared now by others such as QT, Mono and of course Mozilla. It has most of what you’d expect from a modern toolkit, and one nice nugget is that you can build an app for the 3 target platforms from any platform version. Jeff Bailey gave a run-down of where Ubuntu is at. He talked about the online development and collaboration tools to enable the community to be as much involved as possible, and mapped out upcoming releases. Dapper Drake (6.x) is coming up in June and the plan is for this to live as a stable distro for enterprise deployment. Edgy Eft will show up not long after and live in parallel to host some of the more cutting-edge technologies that Ubuntu wants to try out. Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony gave an amusing talk in main session, comparing software to food. On the left are the vegans (GNU/Linux and the GPL community) and on the right are the junk food addicts (proprietary software). He believes most of us live in the middle, preferring a balanced diet (Open Source where possible, with the twinky treat thrown in every so often). This kind of sums up Linspire’s approach to it’s OS, which always wanted to move beyond the Linux geek audience and into the home of all PC users. Kevin then announced the new free version, calle Freespire, due out in August. Doc Searl‘s gave his take on where Linux lives in today’s world. It’s a species and always has been, adapting effectively to the environment it finds itself in. In many areas, Linux has surpassed other operating systems, and the real issue nowadays is not device support or catching up, but rather continue to create “conversations and markets” outside of traditional spheres such as corporations and governments. Doc gives some of his thoughts on the conference here. You might have read about (or seen) Nat Friedman‘s antics doing the conference circuit showing off Novell‘s upcoming Desktop 10.1 release. It does live up to the hype. At the height of the wizardry, there wasn’t a jaw that hadn’t dropped in the audience. With XGL window effects and an excellent desktop search based on Beagle, these are just some of the bag of tricks.
Day 2 to follow, once the jetlag has worn off a bit!