Cameron Laird's personal notes on the Open Source Forum

Open Source Forum is a two-day IT executive conference focused on Linux and other emerging open source software and the implications of this new software on 'mainstream' business applications development and the enterprise software industry.
That's the description by industry publishing heavyweight and Forum sponsor Ziff-Davis. The Forum was held 30 June-1 July 1999, in Austin, Texas.

I was a panelist in a Technical Track called "Open Source Development Tools & Languages", along with Russ Nelson, Michael Tiemann, and Dick Hardt.


Usually, I write up the conferences I attend for one of the magazines to which I most often contribute. For [explain reasons], this time I'll just publish my raw notes myself. What follows *is* raw, for me; I've relaxed my usual self-censorship a bit.

DCOM for Unix: Robert Salita has plenty to say on this [explain Software AG, MS, Tiemann, multi-tier apps, other players, strategic importance].

Cobalt is way cool. They're responding to GPL correctly, incidentally; all source code is FTPable. I'm going to be recommending Cobalt often in the next year.

IBM had enough guys with full beards to fill a table at lunch. That is certainly a change from the past. IBM continues to impress me favorably. They really get open source, far better than Sun, for example. Also impressively progressive in its expressed attitudes is SCO (!). Second biggest news at the conference: IBM is straightening out such licenses as the Postfix one. Biggest news: Sun is finally converting some stuff to open-source (jserv, ...).

The published photos I've seen of Tim O'Reilly don't do him justice. He and Robert X. Cringely give every impression they see the corporate histories of Microsoft and Cisco (et al.) as worthy of chronicling as articulately as the struggles of Agamemnon, Macbeth, and the Romanovs. I don't remember hearing Tim explain at this venue that he's a trained classicist, though.

Lots of people at the Conference had trouble distinguishing it from another Linux lovefest.

Miguel de Icaza (incidental: I was the translator at the table with Kirk and Miguel; that is, while they chatted until closing time in the conversation mentioned in this interview, I occasionally glossed from *BSD to Linux while Kirk explained his cool filesystem. I spoke very, very little, but heard it all) is as vivacious as I'd always heard. The reaction of at least a third of the audience for his formal presentation was mine: "I didn't think GNOME was nearly that interesting. I didn't see all that when I looked at it before. Wow; these guys have really done cool stuff. I'm going to load it on my machine as soon as I get a free moment. Isn't KDE still ahead for all the things it does?" GNOME truly is important. [Glade--Code Fusion--multilingualism--XML; ApiWord; ...] The unnamed terminally-cross-referenced e-mail service also sounds like a winner, at least for developers. Miguel is the best advertisement for the FSF--this is as opposed to, say, Guile, which also has likeable people, but, in my view, dim technical prospects.

Eric stayed out until 2:00 Thursday morning, playing rock-and-roll flute, somewhere on Sixth Street.

The print version of *Linux Magazine* looks very good to me, enough so that I'll work for them at least a bit. *Linux Journal* is very much in the spirit of Dr. Dobbs (also represented, in this case by Eugene Kim). Linux Today seems to be having a lot of success with radio work. I now read the latter at least daily.

ZD did most of its promotion through direct mail, and received little response that way. ZD rates that a mistake. I agree. A fair amount of the audience was more-or-less local techies, who wanted face-time with the luminaries. They seemed generally satisfied.

Three things that matter: GNOME, embedded systems, and DCOM. One thing that matters very much [explain why], and is dormant: Java.

Sendmail business is OK. ISPs are miserly, but corporations are buying it.

I felt a bit sorry for Atipa. My impression was that they'd paid a bunch to spread their name around, but I learned zero about them, and have no reason to remember them. VA and Penguin, on the other hand, are meaningful to me.

[More personal reactions.]

[Sendmail business.]

[S V-N, Byte, ...]





Cameron Laird's personal notes on the Open Source Forum/