Amanda McPherson’s post titled “How to Survive LinuxCon” made me realize that LinuxCon is less than six weeks away.  While there is a lot of excitement around Linus speaking at LinuxCon, there are several other great sessions.

Of course, you’ll want to listen to Bob Sutor’s keynote “Regarding Clouds, Mainframes, and Desktops … and Linux” on the opening day, and Mark Shuttleworth’s keynote and final session of the conference “Let’s Get Together: Coordinated Software Releases, The Linux Ecosystem and the Impact on the Global Marketplace.”

I’m also looking forward to the following sessions because they focus on the realities of Linux and open source, beyond the hype.

Why Open Standards Matter to Linux: It’s very easy to focus on the “source” in “open source” but there is another “open” that is just as important: open standards. In this session we’ll discuss how only through a combination of open source and open standards will users achieve software freedom and protect their investments. The panelists will discuss ODF, LSB and how open standards are fueling the rise of Linux.

Beyond the Hype: The True Cost of Linux and Open Source: In a time of tight IT budgets, open source has attracted much attention due to its cost advantages. Detractors to the adoption of open source technology often preach on the ‘hidden’ costs of open source. While it is true that open source technology is rarely ever truly free, claims as to the hidden costs of open source are often lessons in hyperbole. Some claim that while the initial costs of open source are lower, the long-term costs are higher due to support, consulting maintenance and indirect prices paid in reduced functionality. This session will identify areas that enterprises can legitimately expect to shave IT costs with open source, and where they can’t.

Kernel Regressions and Increasing OS Noise: The Linux Kernel is developing at a rapid pace. More and more features are added to the kernel. This leads to growth of the kernel binary (kernel bloat) but also to an increased cache footprint as well as higher complexity in critical code paths. The common experience is that the kernel becomes slower as time progresses. Faster hardware is needed to offset that effect.   The increase in cache footprint and complexity also leads to OS monitoring tasks such as the execution of the timer interrupt to become more invasive. The time the processor is taken away from the application during a scheduling cycle grows and so does the CPU cache use of the OS. This causes disturbances in the execution path of applications. The effects can be drastic for low latency dependent applications.

It will be interesting to see where the average LinuxCon session will fall in the spectrum of open source pragmatism.  Since many of the speakers are employed by vendors selling open source software, I expect the dialogue to balance of community and business goals.

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