The Institution of Analysts and Programmers
The first speaker was Kevin Groves MIAP of the Kent Linux User Group. Kevin noted that Linux is the fastest growing operating system, and that email and web services are now commonly hosted on Linux. It has proved its viability for mission critical systems and is now making a leap to the desktop. There are many distributions, all working from the same core, but with different configurations and applications. There are around 150 customised versions, which is good for choice but can be confusing for beginners. Kevin's tip was to try a version that can be booted from a CD. Although it may be a little slower than normal, it will give a good feel for what can be done, without you needing to change your current O/S. Most distributions can be downloaded off the web for free; Kevin has been using Linux for ten years and hasnâ€™t missed MS Windows yet!
While Linux is essentially an amateur system, there is a main core development committee that works to maintain high standards. Many of the add-on applications come from amateur developers, but the systems themselves are becoming much more polished. Desktops need a consistent, highly flexible and configurable user interface, such as Windows users have come to expect. Many of these available now for Linux.
Kevin went on to detail some of the tools and languages used in the development of Linux, mainly traditional languages, but also some newer ones like Python and PHP. Free tools included Vi, Vim, Emacs, Anjuta, Bluefish and Eclipse, plus commercial tools such as Delphi, Kylix, C++Builder, JBuilder and Websphere. Backend tools include MySQL, Interbase/Firebird, PostGress, SQLite, ODBC/JDBC, DB2 and Oracle.
Kevin admitted Linux does have its shortcomings, identifying the areas of licenses and patents, system integration, and the myriad of Linux distros and GUIs. There was also the ongoing SCO verses IBM lawsuit.
Kevin rounded off his presentation with a number of case studies, showing how Linux had achieved cost savings for charities. Most savings come from free licenses.
I do indeed like that we are really becoming recognised within the world.