Feeds

Schools, patents and the future of Linux

LinuxWorld debate chews the fat

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Mobile application security vulnerability report

Open source activists need to get Linux into schools if Windows' pre-eminance on the desktop is ever to be seriously challenged, a panel discussion at LinuxWorld conference in London last week concluded.

StarOffice is offered free to schools and has made significant progress as an alternative to Microsoft Office. But Windows remains "entrenched" in schools, so children have no opportunity to get to know alternatives. Vendors on the panel gave mixed responses about their companies' interest in introducing open source technologies into schools. Brian Green, director of Linux at Novell, said that it intending to unveil a spectrum of initiatives to push Linux, adding that details will come later. But Adam Jollans, worldwide Linux strategy manager at IBM, said that Linux on the desktop is still leading-edge.

Jeremy Allison - who heads up HP's Samba team - pointed that it would be difficult for vendors to make a profit from pushing Linux into the classroom. He said if people wanted to effect change they needed to do it at a local level. This might not be straightforward, however, with members of the audience pointing out some schools would be reluctant to accept Linux boxes even if they were given away free.

Steve Hnizdur, technical director at consultancy Netproject, said only be when Linux comes pre-loaded on boxes in PC World will it reach the mainstream.

Where do you want to go tomorrow?

Vendors on the panel were asked about their plans to develop their open source offerings over the next 12 months. Red Hat VP Michael Tiemann said it would focus on directory products, ID management and "stateless" Linux. Novell's Green said that 2005 would be the year of Linux on the desktop. "Linux in data centre become mainstream at expense of Sun," he added.

IBM's Jollans agreed that the release of the 2.6 kernel would help take Linux into the "enterprise heartland". HP's Mike Balma predicted that Linux would make great inroads in the telecoms arena. A Sun representative begged to differ that Linux was pushing proprietary Unix technologies towards oblivion.

Patently absurd

Participants in the debate warned that proposed European patent legislation poses a severe risk to innovation in open source development. The introduction of US-style patent laws in Europe needs to be resisted before current proposals become set in stone, panellists said. A European directive on patent could be finalised by the end of the year. LinuxWorld delegates were urged to lobby their MEPs and MPs on the subject.

HP's Allison described patent law as a "blight on innovation". "Patents become a legal game for large companies to crush small. It's too late in the US, but there's a chance to fight [proposed patent laws] in Europe," he said.

Red Hat's Tiemann added that although in the US we have to "live with how the patent cake is baked" the battle in Europe was far from lost. Some companies, such as IBM, have promised not to prosecute open source companies but other organisations may be far less scrupulous, he warned. Earlier this week Novell promises to use its own patents in defence against any legal threat to the open source technologies it markets. ®

Related stories

Novell to defend against open source IP attack
Sun: MS truce clears way to open source Solaris
Microsoft hoovers millions from UK schools update
Linux poised for move from data centre to desktop - report
'Independent' report used MS-sourced data to trash OSS

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.