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Highlights of LinuxCon 2015

LinuxCon North America is an annual event that consistently draws a good deal of attention amongst Linux aficionados and IT professionals in general. This year in Seattle was no different as the conference highlighted the latest in Linux and other open-source technologies, featuring a variety of announcements which are sure to have an influential impact on the tech world. From the appearance of Microsoft as a sponsor/exhibitor to Linux creator Linus Torvalds taking part in a keynote Q&A session, LinuxCon 2015 featured a variety of both expected and somewhat surprising occurrences (who would have ever thought Microsoft would be at LinuxCon 15 years ago). A number of prevailing topics within the IT industry were covered and with this in mind, we have provided a recap which breaks down the 5 most notable issues discussed at LinuxCon 2015. 

Linux Announcements 

As a natural starting point, Linux made several announcements of their own which should please their devoted users in terms of code progression. During his annual Kernel Report session, Linux kernel developer Jonathan Corbet said that it now takes about 63 days for the community to build a new Linux kernel milestone. Along with this revelation, Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin said 64 million lines of code have been added to projects hosted by his organization since they became collaborative projects, with new initiatives including Kinetic Open Storage and the IO Visor Project. While these statistics may not be as glamorous as news regarding containers or entertaining as new Linus Torvalds quotes, the aforementioned numbers are quite impressive and it will be interesting to evaluate how far the Linux community can advance as well as how quickly they can do it. 

New IBM/LinuxONE Mainframe

IBM is a common sponsor at LinuxCon and 2015 proved to be an eventual year for the powerhouse corporation at the conference. Angel Diaz, vice president of Cloud Technology and Architecture at IBM, took the stage to announce LinuxOne Systems, IBM’s new Linux mainframes which only run the open source OS, as well as the formation of an Open Mainframe Project under the backing of the Linux Foundation. The LinuxONE Emperor is based on the z13 mainframe in particular and the initiative is set to be a rewarding partnership. Anyone who works within the mainframe space should make note of LinuxOne Systems and stay informed as to how the mainframes may positively impact their organization. 

Linus Torvalds Q&A Session

Those who are familiar with Linus Torvalds know all too well that the Linux creator is not the type to hold anything back or mask his true feelings on a subject. Making a ‘surprise’ appearance at LinuxCon, Torvalds took part in one-on-one Q&A with Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, and what transpired should be no surprise to Linux users. From a technical perspective, Torvalds remains completely focused on the Linux kernel and ensuring the cadence of code stays at an optimal level. The hype of modern IT developments such as containers have no impact on Torvalds, who is so steadfast in his concentration of the code in its current release cycle that a long-term vision for Linux is not even on his radar screen, “I'm a very plodding, pedestrian person and look only about six months ahead. I look at the current release and the next one, as I don't think planning 10 years ahead is sane." While this attitude is unlike most executives in his position, the intelligence of Torvalds is rarely questioned and Linux users can take comfort in knowing the fortitude of his policies. 

Presence of Microsoft

Among LinuxCon North America's 2015 sponsors were many of the usual suspects such as IBM, HP, Intel, and Red Hat. However, one well-known name on the list that caught some attendees off guard was none other than Microsoft. The once loathed rival had a booth in the vendor area which caused a stir not only due to disbelief Microsoft was present, but also because of a new piece of collateral, a small rubber “Tux” penguin with a Microsoft logo on it, that did wonders from a marketing and social media perspective. While the animosity toward Microsoft from Linux users isn’t completely gone, Jim Zemlin expressed his positive personal interaction with Microsoft employees during the event "My personal interaction with them [Microsoft] has been really positive. Say what you will about Microsoft, but they have a lot of super-intelligent people that are fun to work with, honestly”. Don’t be surprised if Linux and Microsoft continue to be buddy-buddy in the future. 

Containers Are All the Rage 

Containers are all the rage in the world of IT, it was inevitable that a number of panel discussions were devoted to the buzzed about topic. Here are a few particular examples of containers being brought up during LinuxCon 2015. 

-    Marianna Tessel (senior vice-president of engineering) and Diogo Mónica (security lead for Docker) demoed Docker Content Trust, a configurable feature in the recent Docker 1.8 release which can limit malicious code injection, among other security feature benefits. With Docker Content Trust, there is a verifiable way to make sure that a given Docker application image is authentic.
-    Deepak Singh, general manager of Amazon's Elastic Cloud Compute container service, explained how the company enables organizations to deploy and use containers in the Amazon cloud.
-    Steve Wyatt (leader of emerging technologies at Red Hat) discussed Kubernetes, a relatively new Apache Licensed project originating from Google that provides a framework for building clustered applications that run in Docker containers.
-    Despite all of the hype surrounding containers, Wim Coekaerts (senior vice president of Linux and virtualization engineering at Oracle) reminded everyone that containers are all about applications

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