Josh Work Professional Organizations Trip Reports Conference Report: USENIX 2001: Announcements and Keynote


The conference began with Dan Geer, the president of the USENIX Association, thanking Clem Cole and Yoon Park for their work in putting the conference together. Yoon Park then talked about the general session and Clem Cole talked about the Freenix track:

 USENIX Freenix
Papers submitted, 2001 8258
Papers submitted, 2000 9061
Delta down 11%down  5%
Papers accepted, 2001 2427
Papers accepted, 2000 2427
Non-USA papers accepted 48 of 18
Student papers accepted 158 of 15
Attendance, 2001 1400+
Attendance, 2000 2000+
Delta down 7%

Both track chairs thanked their respective program committees, the USENIX conference and office staffs, the IT and Guru coordinators, the volunteers, their current and previous employers and the attendees.

Following the usual general announcements (meet your session chairs and speakers, where to go for WIP submissions, BOF scheduling, and next year's conference location), the best paper awards were presented:

Following this, USENIX Vice President Andrew Hume presented the USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award (also known as the "Flame") to the GNU Project for the ubiquity, breadth, and quality of its freely available software. [Ed. note to USENIX — pull the actual quote from Andrew, since it vanished too soon for me to grab it.] Robert Tricell, the founding director of the Project, accepted. Andrew then presented the Software Tools User Group (STUG) Aware to the Kerberos development team for its secure, scalable, and relatively simple to administer suite of tools. Ted T'so accepted on behalf of the team and donated the $1,000 cash award to USENIX to be used for student stipends for August's USENIX Security Symposium.

Keynote Address

Dan Frye, Director of IBM's Linux Technology Center, spoke about Linux as a disruptive technology. The term isn't intended to have any derogatory connotations; rather, the talk focused on how the growth of Linux has disrupted the status quo of how businesses chose IT products. This year alone IBM is pouring $1 billion into Linux development, working within the public development community, because of business decisions (it makes the company money, it makes the shareholders money) instead of purely technical ones.

A disruptive technology is one where the skills, the desire, and an open culture of significant size all meet. The desire for Linux and the openness of the community are well documented. Further, over time, the skills in computing have moved from mainly academia (meaning colleges and universities) to all levels of education as well as hobbyists and even industry, thanks in part to the explosion of games, the Web, the growth in technology, and so on. The increasing commoditization of technology has also feuled the explosion of skills.

IBM believes that Linux as a technology is sustainable in the long term. It's got growing marketplace acceptance, it doesn't lock the customer into a particular vendor for hardware or software, is industry-wide, runs on multiple platforms, and is a basis of innovation. Linux has become critical for e-business due to the confluence of desire, skills, and the open culture, with an ever-growing community size.

Dr. Frye went on to dispel some rumors about Linux in the enterprise environment:

Myth: Open Source is undisciplined.
Fact: The community is very disciplined, with reviews of the code and assignments and making sure things are "right" before rolling them into a major distribution.

Myth: Open Source is less secure.
Fact: Open Source is as or more secure, because of the public review and comment to prevent security holes from getting released (or from staying in released code unpatched for long).

Myth: Community doesn't do enterprise features.
Fact: The community wants good designs, but is not against enterprise features. Designing good, scalable solutions — whether for multiple processors (threading code) or different architectures or clusters, or backing up over high-speed devices (networks) — is a major goal of the community.

Myth: The Open Source community will fragment.
Fact: While possible, IBM believes this is unlikely.

Myth: Traditional vendors cannot participate.
Fact: Untrue; IBM is competing quite well, and other vendors such as Compaq and Dell are making Open Source OSes available on their hardware platforms as a customer-orderable option.

Myth: Open Source doesn't scale.
Fact: Definitely untrue. Open Source works on the enterprise scale and inclustering environments.

Myth: Open Source has no applications for it.
Fact: Open Source has over 2,300 business applications for it, not counting the many non-business applications that run under the various versions of Linux and *BSD.

Myth: Open Source is only a niche market.
Fact: Open Source OSes are on nearly a quarter of the servers in production, according to Dr. Frye's slide.

Myth: Open Source is never used in mission-critical applications.
Fact: While this may have been true in the past, it's less and less true over time. It should be mission-critical-capable in the very near term.

The IBM Linux Technical Center's mission is to help make Linux better, working within the community. Their URL is

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Last update Jul16/05 by Josh Simon (<>).