[Don't Fear the Penguins.]

The Future of Linux

(An Informal Report by Greg Roelofs)

The Future of Linux was set up as a panel discussion and was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center (in the heart of Silicon Valley) on the evening of 14 July 1998. It was hosted by Taos Mountain and the Silicon Valley Linux Users Group (SVLUG), and it was sponsored by them, Intel, Red Hat, Linux Journal, and VA Research. Apparently it was considerably more popular than Taos expected; people stood in line between 40 and 60 minutes to register, and the free food and free VA Research/Linux t-shirts ran out. I didn't get a firm count, but Taos said 850 people had RSVP'd, and it appeared that at least 700 chairs were occupied, possibly upwards of 900 or more. (Other reports have claimed ``more than 850'' and ``more than 1000''; apparently quite a few people chose to stand near the front rather than sit in back.)

The panel was a distinguished group: Jeremy Allison, one of the lead Samba developers; Larry Augustin, founder of VA Research and member of the Linux International (LI) Board of Directors; Robert Hart, from Red Hat Software; Sunil Saxena, from Intel's Unix Performance Lab; and, of course, The Man himself, Linus Torvalds. [And while I know there are a lot of Linux fans who like to pronounce ``Linux'' with a long `i' sound (LYE-nucks), and despite the fact that Linus himself doesn't care how anyone else pronounces it, he unquestionably did so with a short `i' as in ``linen'' (LINN-ucks). In Swedish he presumably still pronounces it the third way, roughly ``LEE-nooks.'' Unwashed heathens may want to purchase the ORA book.]* It was moderated by Michael Masterson of Taos, who traded off questioning duties with Phil Hughes, all-around hairy guy and the publisher of Linux Journal.

The panelists were given a pair of questions ahead of time and five minutes (per panelist) to respond to each. The evening progressed more or less as follows:

wait in line...keep waiting...trade RSVP form for name sticker
get free t-shirt / whimper about missing food and lack of dinner
demos / sit down
panel's semi-prepared responses to first question
audience Q & A
moderator Q & A
panel's semi-prepared responses to second question
more audience Q & A
door prizes
demos / schmoozing / fall-on-knees-and-worship-Linus / etc.

Note that in each section I've included various editorial comments in [green brackets], usually [italicized].

Thanks to the following people for their corrections and additional info; any remaining errors or omissions are solely my fault:

  • Jeffrey Chapman
  • Michael Cope
  • Michael Hicks
  • Dan Kaminsky
  • Joe Klemmer
  • Ian Kluft
  • Anas Nashif
  • Brent J. Nordquist
  • Alexandre Petit-Bianco
  • Jason Riedy
  • David Seifert
  • David Sundqvist

See also Taos Mountain's announcement (including a streaming video of highlights and a photo page at Linux Gazette), SVLUG's summary/reviews page, EE Times' article and Slashdot's discussion of it, InfoWorld's article, Rafael Skodlar's report at the Tasty Bits archive, Mark Tebbe's InfoWorld column, and, of course, Slashdot's discussion of this very report.

Finally, here are some interesting developments from the week following the event:

Note that a number of other major databases, including Borland/Inprise/InterBase's InterBase 4 and Computer Associates' Ingres II, have already been ported to Linux. And, of course, the most popular web server in the world (Apache) has run on Linux for years and happens to be freely available as well.

Here are some more interesting developments from the weeks and months after the panel discussion. [Note that, as of October 2000, this list is no longer being updated, except to add links to LWN's annual Linux timelines.]

July 1998
August 1998
September 1998
October 1998
November 1998
December 1998
January 1999
February 1999
March 1999
April 1999
May 1999
June 1999
July 1999
August 1999
November 1999
December 1999
January 2000
August 2000
December 2000
December 2001
December 2002
December 2003
December 2004

* Oh yeah, and vi rules, too. Here, take two of these  :-)  :-) and don't flame me in the morning... We all love Linux regardless of how it's pronounced, right?? And yes, I know he's Finnish, but his birth language is Swedish, which happens to be the second official language of Finland.
Last modified 4 February 2005.

Copyright © 1998-2004 Greg Roelofs.