"It's time to up the ante on Linux," Zemlin said in an opening address at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, urging developers to aim for the mobile platforms.
But in the background of the event, Linux advocates asked whether the operating system will have much of a future on one of the newly popular devices, the diminutive laptops known as netbooks. Linux started out as the operating system of choice on 30% of the netbooks, but Microsoft has claimed that Windows runs on 96% of them. "Some people are asking whether we blew it with the netbook," said James Bottomley, a key Linux developer known as a kernel subsystem maintainer.
But he said Linux was going to have a hard time gaining ground on a segment already dominated by Windows. "To me, the netbook is just another laptop," he said. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Microsoft has lowered the price of Windows XP to $25 for each copy issued on a netbook.
Microsoft's Sam Ramji, former head of its open source compatibility lab and now senior director of platform strategy, gingerly addressed the fervent open source group, saying he wanted to see more cooperation between Microsoft and open source developers.
A woman in the audience stepped up to a microphone to ask him why Microsoft had run an ad campaign based on research that showed Linux was "uneconomical and unsafe."
"Are you willing to say before this group that Linux is economical and safe?" she demanded.
Ramji thought a minute. "Yes," he answered curtly, without uttering the words "economical and safe." The answer drew good-natured laughter and a few hoots. He added, "I'll say what I've always said. Linux is a strong operating system. There was an ad campaign infamous in this community that, when I took over, I ended."
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