I was kinda disappointed with this talk. The first speaker basically just said, “big companies! give debian money!”, and as the audience tried to understand why, he couldn’t really give good reasons. The question “what, exactly, are your goals as regard to corporations — what do you want?” was posed several times in different forms, and the answer was basically, “we want more resources”. Ok, right. On the plus side, he did plug HP several times, although he seemed to think that HP only ships debian on embedded systems. Not true — we ship ia64 debian for telcos and proliant debian too.
The second speaker was slightly better. He explained what it would take for a corporation to support debian, and basically, it came down to: “they would have to reproduce the effort that Red Hat and Novell are already doing”. Duh. Enterprise linux is simply a different ballgame than consumer linux, and after the explanation on why, I came away believing that no sane corporation would ever want to truly make debian a first class supported distro, at least not in the general case.
The reason why debian is great is exactly the reason why it will never be a good fit for corporate America. Because no one is really in charge, any investment a company might put into debian is going to have a very low ROI due to lack of control. This is not an aspersion; it’s simply the way things work.
The speaker asked for magic solutions, and YT spoke up and suggested that the problem was not going to be solved by debian developers begging corporations for support, but by lobbying ISVs to code to debian as a reference platform. My point was: no business customer buys a distro for the sake of the distro; they purchase it on the basis of the applications. A CxO does not care that his sysadmin loves debian because it’s so easy to administrate if Oracle and friends won’t run on it. The speaker did not seem to agree with me, but I had some good air cover from the rest of the peanut gallery (thanks ggg for immediately grokking my point!).
In any case, my heart will always be with debian, but I walked away from this talk thinking that the future of corporate debian isn’t so great (at least not in the near term).