Enterprise Unix Roundup: This Is Your BrainShare on Linux

By Michael Hall (Send Email)
Posted Mar 25, 2005


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Now that Novell is a full-fledged Linux company, has its annual BrainShare become LinuxWorld southwest? With Red Hat Kickstart you can replicate and automate mass deployments of a customized installation.

Amy Newman
Michael Hall

For those who harbored any doubt as to whether Novell is now a Linux player to be reckoned with, this week's BrainShare conference should dispel it. In the past, BrainShare was the place to discuss the latest and greatest in the Novell software stable. Now, with NetWare morphing from operating system to management suite, Brainshare is becoming a LinuxWorld southwest of sorts.

At its core, BrainShare is a chance for Novell's partners to strut their stuff. While no ground-breaking announcements came from the show floor, the sheer increase in vendor volume is indicative of the community's acceptance of Novell's transition to full-fledged Linux player.

As CEO Jack Messman said in his keynote, "We currently have more than 560 technology partners in our PartnerNet program. That's up from 42 at this time last year." He then cited, "a tremendous surge of partners working with Novell to expand the number of Linux solutions available. On SUSE Linux alone, there are now 1,400 certified and ready products. Last year there were 203 products."

Novell was the subject of the majority of announcements to come out of Salt Lake City this week. Those getting the most play were the following:

  • Novell Linux Small Business Suite, designed, as its name implies, for the SMB market. The suite includes the latest version of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9, Novell Linux Desktop 9, GroupWise 6.5 collaboration suite, and eDirectory — the company's directory management solution.
  • The ZenWorks 7 systems management tool was unveiled. The new version allows sys admins to manage Windows PCs from a SUSE Linux server.
  • More details on the next version of GroupWise, code-named Sequoia and due out this summer, were spilled. Novell announced a 10-year extended support commitment for the collaboration suite and said it will bundle SLES with GroupWise.
  • The Validated Configuration Program, Novell's latest partner solution certification program, was launched. The program is intended to speed up data center solution development on supported Novell Linux platforms through the certification of integrated hardware and software configuration stacks. The program is focused stacks that emphasize high availability, virtualization, systems management, and security.

One interesting nugget of note is Novell's internal Linux migration. Novell is currently migrating all 6,000 of its desktops from Windows to Linux. It's an easy and clear way to put its money where its mouth is. IBM has made similar projection, but Novell seems to have a leg up on Big Blue in this arena.

In early 2004, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano announced plans to migrate the entire company to a Linux-based desktop by the end of this year. Although Big Blue has already moved more than 15,000 desktops to Linux (more desktops than Novell has, but only small percentage of IBM's 320,000 employees), some high hurdles have yet to be cleared — Web applications that work only with Internet Explorer and ActiveX, no Linux client for Lotus Notes, and support staff who don't know Linux.

Presumably, Novell will be fare better with its mass migration. Unlike IBM, Novell is truly a Linux vendor. It owns a whole distribution outright and has Ximian, a major desktop Linux company, under the same roof. It is in a better position than anyone to benefit from its in-house Linux expertise.

In Other News

» A Security Innovations' (SI's) study has come to the conclusion that Windows 2003 Server is much more secure than Red Hat's Enterprise Server 3. The study took into account the "attack surface" of out-of-the-box installations of each platform as well as the total number of vulnerabilities and the time between public disclosure of a vulnerability and a patch (i.e., "days of risk").

A sample of the figures: SI found 77 vulnerabilities of a "high" severity in Red Hat vs. 33 for Windows. Its days of risk calculations showed Red Hat running an average of 71.4 days vs. Microsoft's 31.3.

Red Hat's not particularly willing to concede, and its security response chief has published his own response.

Did we mention the study was sponsored by Microsoft?

» On Monday, the Free Standards Group (FSG) announced a series of pledges of support for the Linux Standards Base (LSB) from major ISVs. IBM, MySQL, Oracle, Novell, VERITAS, and BackBone led the list. The FSG also announced new members, including Covalent Technologies and Red Flag.

The LSB provides a standard for binary compatibility against which applications for Linux can be developed. It was conceived in response to concerns that Linux would undergo the fragmentation that hounded the Unix world in the '80s.

» VERITAS announced support for Solaris 10 with version 4.1 of its Storage Foundation, Cluster Server, and Volume Replicator software.

» The Postfix MTA running under Linux gained some super spam-fighting powers with an offering from IBM called "FairUCE." The software matches domain to IP before sending a challenge/response message back to mail senders who appear to be posting mail from a machine outside the domain from which their mail claims to originate.

» A footnote in the SCO saga: The company continues to be embroiled in problems with the NASDAQ board over late SEC filings that could cause it to be delisted. SCO stock-watchers changed their tickers to track "SCOXE" instead of "SCOX" last month. The added "E" in a stock symbol indicates SEC filing delinquency. LinuxToday has a few more links on the company.

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