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LinuxWorld draws industry leaders

Next week's trade show is precipitating noteworthy announcements from big-name and little-known computing companies alike.

Next week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo is precipitating noteworthy announcements from big-name and little-known computing companies alike.

The San Jose, California, trade show has drawn such leading computer firms as IBM, Compaq Computer, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard. All of these companies plan major announcements at the confab, though word of HP's and IBM's plans has already gotten out.

And while Silicon Graphics decided against setting up a booth, the company will make two announcements Tuesday--including a partnership with Linux computer builder VA Research, a source said. SGI also intends to announce that the company is embracing the open source model of software development, the cast-of-thousands programming method that has driven the development of Linux.

Linux, founded by Linus Torvald (who will be on hand for a keynote presentation Tuesday night), has taken the corporate world by storm in recent months. Major computing companies have begun supporting the Unix derivative as if in a rising chorus that could reach a crescendo next week.

Among the leading PC manufacturers, Compaq, which has announced Alpha-based DS/20 servers certified to work with Linux, likely will announce models of its Intel-based ProLiant servers that also are prepped for Linux.

Dell Computer, also hoping to benefit from a few stray photons from the Linux limelight, has announced new Linux support for its servers, workstations, and business desktops, though the company LinuxCare.

Sun, meanwhile, is modifying its approach to the conference. The company downgraded a planned news conference to one-on-one chats; insiders say Sun "changed its tactics" so it wouldn't alienate the intimate, informal dealings of the Linux world.

In all, the LinuxWorld Expo has drawn more than 100 exhibitors, said Caren Wagner, a spokeswoman for IDG, which is organizing the conference. Press and analysts, though, already outnumber exhibitors two to one, she said. Between 8,000 and 10,000 attendees are expected.

Microsoft is not exhibiting at the show, the company said.

Software companies, too--notably database vendors Informix, Oracle, and Sybase--also will populate the booths at the San Jose Convention Center. Those companies, along with IBM, have announced Linux support for their database products.

Companies that distribute and support will also be at the show, including Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, Pacific Hi-Tech, LinuxPPC, Caldera Systems, and Slackware.

Several of these organizations plan new Linux products, including two server editions of Pacific Hi-Tech's TurboLinux. Debian 2.1, code-named Slink, is scheduled for release Tuesday with new support for Sun's UltraSparc chips and Compaq's Alpha chips, as is a new method for downloading updates to the operating system. Debian 2.2, code-named Potato, will incorporate the new version 2.2 of the Linux kernel and which will support the PowerPC chip.

LinuxPPC, too, will be showing off its wares, showing its operating system on a system running on four PowerPC 750 chips.

The distribution world also could be shaken up some with the addition of another Linux distribution, this one from Corel, a company that has jumped wholeheartedly on the Linux bandwagon. Corel chief executive Michael Cowpland and Oracle worldwide marketing chief Mark Jarvis, are scheduled to give the conference's other two keynote addresses.

In other announcements scheduled for the show:

  • Helius has announced a router that lets people connect their local networks to the Internet by satellite. The systems use Caldera Systems' Linux distribution.

  • Gnome, the graphical user interface used by Red Hat and others, will announce a new version of the product. Gnome designer Miguel de Icaza will make the announcement Wednesday, and GNU and Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman is expected to attend.

  • Infoseek will show two Linux products, its Ultraseek Server searching and indexing software and its Content Classification Engine product.

  • Informix will announce new partners who will distribute the company's Linux products. In addition, the company will announce software to allow companies to migrate their legacy software written in the 4GL programming language to Linux.

  • Fastlane Software will announce new versions of its Xni Linux software, which records and analyzes network traffic. The company will offer preconfigured Linux systems with the software installed, and the software will be updated to feed its data into a generally accessible database.

  • Tripwire Security Systems will be making the Linux version of its Unix security software available as a free download.

  • GraphOn will show its thin client software that allows Windows or Java clients to connect to Linux servers.

  • Maxspeed will announce its MaxStation Linux thin clients.

  • VSI will show its VSI-Fax network fax product, which supports Linux as well as several other operating systems.

  • Loki Entertainment Software will demonstrate its upcoming Linux version of the "Civilization: Call to Power" game.

  • MTI Technology will show early versions of its disk storage arrays for Linux. The system uses Caldera Systems' Linux distribution.