PARK RIDGE, Ill. Encouraged by rapid growth of the open-source code market, software and hardware makers will roll out an array of Linux-based products at Comdex Fall 2000 in Las Vegas this week.
The show will play host to a Linux Business Expo, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of attendees who count themselves among the growing Linux faithful.
"More people are looking for ways to put Linux in their solutions," said Sonny Saslaw, general manager of the expo. "At the OEM level, they're looking for embedded solutions. And at the enterprise level, they're looking for clustering and Internet solutions."
Seventy-four companies are expected to exhibit at the expo, twice the number at last year's show, Saslaw said. The expo has also doubled its floor space, from 17,700 square feet last year to more than 40,000 square feet this year. It also follows up an impressive showing in Toronto, where the most recent Linux Business Expo attracted more than 60,000 attendees.
IBM serves Linux in Japan
Attendees will find the expo especially pertinent in light of IBM's announcement last week that it is installing more than 15,000 Linux-based servers for Lawson Inc., a Japanese convenience store chain. Lawson (Osaka, Japan) will run two of IBM's xSeries eServers at each of its 7,600 stores. The servers, which employ Red Hat Linux operating systems, will allow customers to download music, movies and other Web content from multimedia terminals in the stores. "This is the largest retail deployment of Linux that we're aware of," said Melissa London, a spokesperson for Red Hat Inc. (Research Triangle Park, N.C.).
Similarly, Lexmark International Inc. (Lexington, Ky.) announced last week that is has developed the first-ever Linux driver for manufacturers of color ink jet printers. The driver, which integrates into Linux-based PCs, supports Linux software from Red Hat, SuSE Inc. (Oakland, Calif.) and MandrakeSoft (Altadena, Calif.).
Exhibitors at Comdex and at the Linux expo plan to capitalize on that momentum by displaying the best of today's Linux applications. The iRobot-LE, which runs on the Linux operating system, is the first multipurpose robot that can be controlled by a Web browser from anywhere in the world. The robot, which has been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and at the Louvre in France, will serve as a tour guide. It will roam the show floor, showing attendees at the Sands Expo and Convention Center what's happening at other remote locations throughout Comdex.
For its part, Red Hat will display several high-profile electronic devices that use its operating systems. Iomega's handheld, MP3-playing Hip Zip, introduced in late September, will demonstrate Red Hat's eCos operating system. Other devices include an Ericsson Screen Pad telephone that employs a Red Hat Linux operating system, as well as a Playstation2 video game that was designed using a simulator and development tools from Red Hat.
Engineers said that higher levels of Linux maturity, combined with declining memory costs and memory power requirements, have pushed Linux into such mainstream applications. "There's a new economics model," said Kim Knutilla, vice president of engineering services for Red Hat. "Customers are always concerned about quality. But once the quality is there, they start to talk about cost." Knutilla said Iomega chose eCos for its smaller kernel size and because licensing fees were eliminated. Ericsson employed Red Hat Linux for reasons of reliability and cost, he said.
Several firms will also display major new products at the event. Among them are Lineo Inc. (Lindon, Utah) and Linux Networx (Sandy, Utah).
Lineo, a provider of embedded Linux-based systems, will show off its Availix Clustering 1.1, a solution that provides users with nonstop access to mission-critical services. The system, based on a Linux OS and CompactPCI hardware, provides high availability and scalability for network servers. The product is designed specifically for ISPs, ASPs and telecom companies requiring solutions that enable customers to connect to services at any time, without interruption or delays.
Lineo also is expected to announce a Japanese version of its flagship product, Embedix SDK 1.2, a development kit for embedded developers and device manufacturers. The Japanese version comes on the heels of Lineo's Nov. 7 announcement that it will begin shipping Embedix SDK 1.2. The new product brings real-time response features to Embedix SDK, providing embedded-device developers with both soft and hard real-time capabilities. As a result, developers can measure response times for their embedded products in microseconds.
The Japanese version of Embedix SDK will be known as Embedix SDK 1.2J, the company said.
Linux Networx will display its new Evolocity TM, a Linux-based fully integrated cluster system with a vertically rack-mounted chassis. The Evolocity system is composed of 25 computer modules in a standard 19-inch rack that enables it to grow to several hundred modules. The company said the unique vertical construction facilitates better airflow and temperature control.
Clustering is the theme at the ICP Vortex booth. ICP Vortex will roll out a new cluster-control tool to be used in third-party cluster management software to control shared mass storage.
Also at the Linux expo, DataMyte (a Rockwell Automation business) and PocketPenguins will announce that they have formed an agreement to provide industrial customers with a hardened, Linux-based mobile computing system. Built on DataMyte's Industrial Digital Assistant, the product can be used in industrial applications requiring data collection, analysis, inventory control and reporting.
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