LINUXWORLD SF - Novell CEO backs standard Linux apps certification

Hovsepian emphasized the need for a vendor-neutral effort on certification

Emphasizing that more must be done to expand the volume of Linux applications, Novell President/CEO Ron Hovsepian proposed Wednesday that a standardized application certification process be developed among different players in the Linux market.

In a keynote presentation at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Hovsepian emphasized that applications are fragmented across the Linux marketplace. "To me the No. 1 thing we need on Linux is apps," he said.

Unlike Microsoft's Windows, which offers a single, unified platform where an application can be certified and then get access to the market, Linux application certification is bogged down by a distribution-by-distribution scheme. This scheme risks fragmenting the ISVs, which are needed by Linux, Hovsepian said.

Linux suffers from a lack of consistency at the API level and application certifications are not transferable, Hovsepian said.

Hovsepian emphasized the need for a vendor-neutral effort to certify applications. Under this process, ISVs would certify applications once and they would be seamlessly ported across multiple distributions.

Asked whether Novell had spoken with other Linux players such as Red Hat about this idea, Hovsepian said yes. "We're having those conversations real-time right now with different partners," he said. "Basically, this is a vendor-neutral approach that we want to be driven by most of the people in this room."

The plan does not involve creating a new standards body for oversight. Instead, players would leverage existing efforts such as the Linux Standard Base, Hovsepian said. He acknowledged there would be a technology challenge in navigating through multiple distributions, APIs, and interfaces.

Hovsepian's call resonated with conference attendee Mark Hopkins, a business development director for STMicroelectronics.

"To me, it sounds like a great idea because I agree with him [Hovsepian] that applications [are] really the thing that is most needed by Linux to get to the next level," Hopkins said.

Hovsepian lauded the progress of Linux, citing its adoption by large enterprises and use by organizations such as the New York Stock Exchange.

"First and foremost, Linux is now mainstream. Make no mistake about that," Hovsepian said.

The Linux community needs to focus on three areas: enlarging the ISV ecosystem with more applications, enabling the next generation of datacenters, and expanding the Linux market, Hovsepian said.

"If we truly believe that Linux is going to replace every Unix server and if we truly believe Linux has the potential to replace the desktops of Windows, then we've got work to do," Hovsepian said.

To enable the datacenter, improvements are eyed in the areas of virtualization, management, security, and power management, Hovsepian said. He detailed Novell's efforts in this area, including the company's support of AMD virtualization technology.

Novell on Wednesday lanched ZenWorks Orchestrator 1.1 and the ZenWorks virtual machine manager, to boost its management paradigm within the virtual machine, Hovsepian said.

Novell security improvements include enhancing access control for networks and individual firewalls for each application area, Hovsepian said.

In the power management arena, Novell supports AMD PowerNow technology to manage CPUs and also is a member of the IBM Big Green Linux Initiative, Hovsepian said.

Hovsepian also noted Novell's alliance with IBM this week that featured the embedding of the IBM WebSphere Application Server Community Edition inside of Suse Linux. IBM also announced an open collaboration client for Suse Linux Desktop, featuring the Lotus Workplace toolset.

Novell on Wednesday announced the next generation of openSuse Build Service, enabling hackers to build their own Linux distribution, which could be based on non-Novell software.

Novell, Hovsepian said, would ship Suse Linux software under the new GNU General Public License version 3, which drew a question from an audience member who cited Novell's Suse Linux distribution arrangement with Microsoft, an opponent of GPLv3. But Hovsepian said Microsoft merely redistributes coupons for users to access Suse Linux and that the apparent conflict would not be a problem.

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