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A World Of Linux

I had planned to be writing this from this week's LinuxWorld conference in Boston. That was before the flu. But with or without me, the action was indeed in Boston this week -- somewhat low-key, but certainly not without interest.
Perhaps the splashiest item, if only because "Microsoft" and "LinuxWorld" have not tended to fall in the same sentences before this, was Microsoft's decision to offer Virtual Server 2005 R2 as a free download and its pledge to support "select" Linux virtual machines on its server platform. The devil is in the details, of course. Virtual Server 2003 will be entirely usable under both Red Hat and SUSE Linux, so that's bound to spark at least some user interest from administrators running those platforms. For anyone else using other distros, as well as compatibility with those "select" virtual machines, the future remains to be seen. There is the usual Microsoft tendency to not want to see a market that it can't somehow come to dominate, but it's pretty late to the Xen/VMware party. Add to that the natural suspicion of Microsoft in the Linux world, and one has to wonder whether the company will manage to make many inroads here.

In fact, one might ask, does it even matter what Microsoft wants to do in the Linux world? So much else at LinuxWorld revolved around other virtualization initiatives -- Intel and Red Hat's alliance to speed up virtualization and enterprise grid computing adoption, Virtual Iron's new management software with native virtualization, etc etc etc. And IBM and Novell announced Linux-based middleware that aims specifically to integrate Linux apps into a Windows environment. An awful lot of the action doesn't depend whatsoever on what Microsoft is doing with its server software. I suspect that if server administrators can make a heterogeneous server environment work without resorting to Microsoft's methods of getting it there, that's where they're going to head.