Novell president and chief executive Ron Hovsepian on Wednesday called on the Linux community to develop a standard certification process for independent software vendors to ensure that applications run across the different distributions of the open source operating system.
During his keynote at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, Hovsepian said what drives customers' choice of either Linux or Windows comes down to the applications that run on the operating system. "Whether we like it or not, the application is what drives the final customer decision," he said.
To drive more development on Linux, the community has to make it easier for ISVs to build software that can run across Linux distributions. "Our current process on certifying our ISVs is really an individual distribution by distribution... We really need to standardize the ISV standardization process," he said.
Along with discussing ISV certification, Hovsepian also pointed to Novell's own efforts at encouraging more software development on Linux. The company on Tuesday introduced a new user interface for its online OpenSuse Build Service, and also released the first beta of OpenSuse 10.3.
The build service is a framework and infrastructure for software developers to create and compile packages for multiple Linux distributions. The new interface enables users to search and browse new software developed for Suse Linux, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, or Mandriva distributions. Novell claims the service has 700 ongoing projects and 20,000 software packages.
Novell on Tuesday made a flurry of other LinuxWorld announcements, including upgrades of the Linux distributor's data center management software, and partnerships with IBM. The latter company agreed to release a collaboration client for Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop, and Novell said it would deliver and support IBM's WebSphere Application Server Community Edition as part of Suse Linux Enterprise Server. The collaboration client includes e-mail, instant messaging, calendar, and office productivity tools, such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
Hovsepian warned the Linux community about becoming complacent, saying that the OS is not where it needs to be to continue as a competitor against Windows and other rivals. "I'm here to tell you we're not there yet. We're truly not there yet," Hovsepian said. "And I don't want you to fall asleep at this point in time."
Among the areas where developers need to focus their efforts are virtualization and other technologies deemed as the drivers behind the "next generation data center," Hovsepian said. In the area of virtualization, Linux needs to take advantage of the virtualization support chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are embedding in their products. Intel offers VT in its quad-core Xeon server processors and AMD has its own technology within its Opteron processor.
"These chip technologies are going to be critical in the market and they're going to push the use of virtualization," Hovsepian said.
Better tools for managing multiple operating systems and virtual machines within a server were also pivotal, Hovsepian said. In trying to meet that customer need, Novell has released new versions of data center management tools. A major enhancement was in giving companies more flexibility in deployment by separating the previously bundled ZENworks Orchestrator, which allocates overall data center resources, from management packs, such as ZENworks Virtual Machine Management.
Hovsepian also stressed that Linux needs to be able to work in mixed environments with other operating systems, a major reason why Novell signed an interoperability agreement with Microsoft last year. The deal also included a controversial pact in which Microsoft agreed not to sue Novell customers for any patented technology in Linux that belongs to Microsoft. The software maker claims Linux contains some of its intellectual property, but has yet to release the list of patents.
Hovsepian said being able to interoperate with Windows can be pivotal in winning customers. "The one thing that comes from that is no one hangs up the phone on you," he said.