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OSDL's Linux Initiatives
Pages: 1, 2, 3


As previously stated, the working groups identify and remove the technical and marketing inhibitors to Linux adoption. It is equally important to know that DCL is not another Linux distribution. To insure that solutions are available to customers, our approach is always to drive kernel-based solutions into the mainline kernel. Any open layered solutions go through community recognized forums.

A challenge for DCL's TWG, and indeed for all the initiatives, is to map the capabilities needed for:

  • solutions that need to be developed
  • the gaps for solutions that do exist, and
  • solutions that could satisfy the needs of all the initiatives.

To overcome these challenges, OSDL created special interest groups (SIGs) in high-priority subject areas (for example, storage networking, hot plugging, clusters, and security), which our members use as cross-initiative technical forums to identify the use cases and gaps (coding, testing, and documentation) needed to provide enterprise-worthy solutions on Linux. These forums are completely open so that we can include nonmember maintainer participation. The intent is never for SIGs to replace active community developer mailing lists. If the existing community can deal with an issue, there is usually no need for activity on the part of a SIG. SIG activities are public on their home pages.

One example of a SIG activity is that of the Storage Networking SIG, which has a focus area of NFS Version 4. The SIG determined that the development community was progressing with no need for intervention, except that no one could answer the question "What testing is necessary to make NFS V4 ready for customers, and who will doing the testing?" The SIG sponsored an effort to create a prioritized NFS V4 test matrix to do the following:

  • Identify what tests needed creating or updating due to new features in NFS V4
  • Determine and create the usage models that should drive the testing
  • Provide a description of each test and testing configuration needed
  • Track who will do or has done the test
  • Post all of the above to attract testers and determine NFS V4 stability

This information helps the community know what testing is highest priority to more effectively assign test resources and not duplicate efforts. It also means that it is possible to identify the testing gaps and raise them to DCL Steering for action. The SIG gathers information from the NFS V4 developers on their own forums. Developers do not have to join the SIG, but those who wish to are certainly welcome.

Desktop Linux Initiative--Promoting the Adoption of Linux Desktops

The OSDL Desktop Linux Initiative (DTL) formed with the intent of promoting the adoption of Linux desktop systems in the enterprise. It does not specifically address Linux desktops in any other area, but the group does of course have a strong interest in what happens in those areas.

DTL has a workgroup composed of OSDL members and dedicated OSDL staff. The initial work involved determining a set of usage models that accurately represent the majority of desktop uses over a broad range of enterprise use. The group eventually decided upon five usage models:

  • single function
  • transaction worker
  • basic office
  • technical workstation
  • advanced workstation

The intent of the group is to create a list of the capabilities that a desktop system must have to successfully address each of the usage models. Once the group understands and clearly documents the required capabilities, it then becomes possible to identify key inhibitors that are preventing successful adoption, as well as specific technologies that either are not present or have some deficiencies when applied to enterprise environments. Working with Linux distributors and existing open source development communities, and, if necessary, creating new development communities by way of OSDL SIGs, the group hopes to accelerate Linux development in the specific areas that will facilitate its adoption on the enterprise desktop.

After deliberation, the group decided that attempting to address all five of these usage models would involve a scope too broad for the team to tackle realistically. The Advanced Workstation usage model had by far the most complexity and broadest scope, but it actually reflected only a small percentage of desktop use within most enterprises. The initial work thus focused only upon the first four usage models.

It soon became obvious that one of the most important limiting factors for the enterprise was the availability of commercial software packages. After some investigation, the group realized:

  • For many of the applications, there was little hope of open source replacements for these applications, mainly because they either addressed very specific needs, or they addressed needs that because of their somewhat boring and detail-oriented natures would not be obvious candidates for a typical open source community project.
  • Many of the obstacles facing independent software vendors (ISVs) were the same issues facing general enterprise users.
  • A large proportion of the problems were also problems beyond the ISV and enterprise user communities.

One of the prime areas of focus has become enabling ISVs on Linux, since this addresses not only fundamental issues, but also issues that are of more general interest.

In February 2005, DTL produced a document that was not meant to be complete but simply a snapshot document of the work to date. This document, DTL 1.0 Capabilities, is available on the OSDL web site.

In March, DTL held a strategy meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, to review progress and to further refine its focus. Work on that continues.


OSDL Developer Resources


Lynn de la Torre is a member of OSDL and coordinates the activities of the DCL Working Group.

Ibrahim Haddad is the Director of Technology for the Software Operations Group (Home & Network Mobility Business Unit) at Motorola Inc.

Philip Peake is a member of OSDL and coordinates the Desktop Linux Working Group.

John Cherry is the Roadmap Coordinator for the Carrier Grade Linux initiative at OSDL.

Mary Edie Meredith is a member of the OSDL engineering department and is Roadmap Coordinator for the Data Center Linux initiative.

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