HP Initiatives: HP Takes to the Open Road on Open Source

Linux, the flagship open source software, has moved quickly to the forefront of viable operating system choices for IS departments with a need to deploy cost-effective workgroup and departmental solutions such as e-mail, file-and-print and Web services. According to IDC, the Linux market share surged more than 200% in 1998. The phenomenal rise in the functionality and industry momentum for Linux is due to the fact that it’s an open source technology.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers on the Internet can read, redistribute, and modify the source for a piece of software, it evolves. People improve it, people adapt it and people fix the bugs. And this can happen at an astonishing speed, especially if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development. Today, Linux already leverages the intelligence of a lot of smart people. Programmers are willing to add to the operating system’s capabilities because they can use not only their work but also the collective work of many others.

Open-source software is an idea whose time has finally come. For twenty years it has been building momentum in the technical cultures that built the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now it’s breaking out into the commercial world and that’s changing all the rules. It’s ironic how hardware and software vendors are capitalizing on this trend by talking about "open sourcing" their technologies. Sun Microsystems is the best example of companies declaring software available under an open source agreement, when in fact they are not.

Sun Microsystems talks about "community sourcing," according to Bill Joy, Sun’s co-founder and chief scientist. Community sourcing means that Sun makes the source code for a product publicly available so that developers can download the code free of charge and make changes, but redistribution is controlled by Sun.

Sun’s concept, however, falls short of open source, as popularized by the Linux community, where anyone can access the software and amend it, whether for development or commercial use. Sun’s community license approach is in fact counter to the basic principles of the open source movement, in which software developers can leverage the investment of their work and bring a product to market which capitalizes their development investment.

Linux is already established as an operating system of choice in markets such as the Internet Service Provider market and the Electronic Commerce application development market. And HP is moving forward with the most comprehensive Linux and open source strategy in the industry, covering its systems, software, services and peripherals business units.

HP is not new to the open-source arena. In fact, HP is celebrating the seventh anniversary of its collaboration with the University of Liverpool’s HP-UX Porting Archive Center. Based in Liverpool, England, the center focuses on making open-source software more readily available to users of UNIX systems from HP. Today, there are more than 1,500 open-source tools and applications archived on the site and ten mirror sites worldwide. And HP has been open sourcing its HP-UX debugger since 1997. HP is also a sponsoring corporate member of Linux International and holds a seat on the Board of Directors.

SourceXchange.com is another example of HP’s commitment to the open-source philosophy. SourceXchange.com, a Web site for open-source development, improves the predictability of open-source development projects by paying developers for their work, simplifying the business relationship between sponsor and developer and providing quality control through a peer-review process.

HP’s Linux initiatives abound. Examples include:

• HP announced that the final, supported product version of HP OpenMail 6.0 for Linux is now available. HP OpenMail won the best of show award at the Linux Expo in August 1999. HP intends to open-source key elements of the OpenMail graphical user interface.

• HP was the first enterprise computer vendor to offer 24X7 software support for all major Linux distributions.

• HP also unveiled an expanded portfolio of educational courses for Linux.

• All currently shipping HP NetServers are certified for Red Hat Linux and can be ordered with factory-installed Linux through HP’s Global Installation and Integration Operation.

• Current HP Kayak XA, XA-s and XU PC workstations have been optimized for Linux.

• HP is responding to substantial interest in Linux from the EDA market sector: The HP VISUALIZE PL450 and XL550 can be ordered with factory-installed Red Hat 6.0.

• HP has made the e-speak open source code available at www.e-speak.net.

• HP is pioneering a number of ground-breaking open source partnerships, including the Puffin Group’s PA-RISC port (www.the puffingroup.com) and the SourceXchange software developmentwebsite (www.sourceXchange .com).

• HP is providing backing for an Internet site housing more than 1,500 open-source HP-UX tools.

• HP has contributed enhancements to the popular Squid open source proxy caching software. HP’s enhancements to Squid help Web pages load faster and reduce traffic demand on external network links, leading to reduced operating costs — good news for service providers.

In addition, the core kernel and system optimization technologies that HP is providing for IA-64 are expected to become part of the Linux source tree. With HP playing one of the key roles, Linux’s place as an OS of choice on future Intel-based platforms is assured.

HP is committed to creating an open marketplace for next-generation services where all developers can bring important, innovative services to the Web and participate in the new revenue streams they create.

For more information on HP’s Linux and Open Source go to www.hp.com/go/Linux.