Intel’s enthusiasm for open source is gathering speed: now it is endorsing professional Linux certifications, snubbing the old Microsoft certification program.
It’s a sure thing that you can sit for a range of Microsoft certifications at almost any event where two or more ‘Softies are gathered together in Bill’s name. Now Intel is leveraging its own developer muscle by organising Linux certification exams for attendees of the Intel Developer Forum held late August in San Francisco.
Attendees at the annual techfest can land a substantial discount sitting for any of three open-source exams held by the Linux Professional Institute, the world’s premier Linux certification organisation. However, there’s been no word on any similar arrangement for Microsoft certification, despite Redmond once again paying top dollar to be listed among IDF’s Gold Sponsors.
Several tracks of the San Francisco IDF are predictably dedicated to mini-notes, which Intel calls ‘netbooks’, and their desktop equivalents, clumsily tagged as ‘net-tops’, along with mobile Internet devices and the Atom processor family which runs all three types of devices.
Intel has been steadily ramping up its support of Linux for several years. It’s partly a recognition of the open source wave sweeping through governments and commercial organisations alike. More crucial, however, is the nascent market that Intel calls “the next billion computers”, which comprises the classrooms and homes, village centres and even business of third-world countries.
Intel makes its living by selling processors, and with the established worldwide market for desktops and laptops having almost reached saturation, tapping into new markets is a matter of survival. And the operating system that will power those next billion computers is increasingly seen as Linux: an OS that’s free, open, extensible and has lesser hardware requirements than Windows.
The most noticeable nod towards Linux, which was simultaneously a backhand slap at Microsoft, took place at the Beijing IDF in April 2007, when Intel embraced Linux as the OS of choice for its new class of ‘mobile Internet devices’ as well as an equal partner in a category of larger-screen UMPCs which later morphed into mini-notes. At last year’s San Francisco IDF, a prestigious walk-on spot during the keynote was bestowed upon Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth.
Intel also sponsors the Moblin project for developing a standardised open source platform for MID products, which in turn has fed into two bespoke builds of Ubuntu: Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device Edition for MIDs and Ubuntu Netbook Remix for mini-notes.
And Intel has worked on fine-tuning the Linux kernel for reduced power consumption right across the board from servers to handheld MIDs. Its ‘LessWatts.org’ initiative has already demonstrated power-optimisations, which Intel developers have been working on and feeding back into the open source community, can boost the battery life of a Linux laptop by almost a third and add a full hour to its uptime when away from an AC outlet.