More than 11,000 delegates are set to converge on San Francisco for the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo next week, in a visible demonstration that open source software is now absolutely mainstream.
Enterprises are now judging open source on its up-front cost, total cost of ownership, reliability and features, just as they do proprietary products, said Matt Lawton, an analyst with research company IDC. Criteria unique to open source such as issues of potential liability for patent infringement and the level of technical support, are way down the list of worries.
"Software is software and things like functionality and reliability are the most important attributes, regardless of whether the software is open source or not," Lawton said. "But having said that, to the extent that open source can save end users money, then they are all ears."
If open source is increasingly being considered on par with proprietary software, that opens more opportunities for it in the enterprise market for use in servers, desktop computers and mobile devices.
Worldwide revenue for open-source software, which reached US$1.8 billion in 2006, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent, reaching $5.8 billion by 2011, IDC research shows.
LinuxWorld will feature keynote addresses leading tech executives including Ann Livermore, executive vice president of Hewlett-Packard; Diane Green, president of VMware, Kevin Kettler, chief technology officer of Dell.
At the event Oracle is expected to reveal more about the results of its efforts to undercut Red Hat on the cost of support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Oracle earlier this year identified a number of companies
that it claimed switched to Oracle from Red Hat for support, but Red Hat disputed those claims.
Also expected is more information on Microsoft's agreements with Novell and a other Linux distributors, in which Microsoft says it is working to improve the interoperability of Linux with Windows.
Microsoft also caused a stir in the open-source community when it warned in June that Linux violates 235 of its patents, although many in the open source community dismissed the claim as sabre-rattling.
This is also the first LinuxWorld since the adoption of the revised General Public License for use of open-source software, known as GPL v3.