LinuxWorld, the annual confab of open source advocates, opens this week in San Francisco with an unwanted shadow hanging over the event, the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) instigated by SCO's $1 billion lawsuit against IBM. Typically, LinuxWorld events have been self-congratulatory affairs, with the Linux faithful celebrating its ever-increasing market- and mind-share, and various proponents opining that, yes, this indeed will be the year of the Linux desktop. This year, however, the underlying attitude is one of concern, though few vendors are willing to admit it publicly.

Officially, LinuxWorld will ignore the SCO brouhaha, and Linux companies such as Red Hat, SuSE, and others will tout their upcoming wares as usual. But SCO's threat has many analysts and decision makers wondering if Linux tests or rollouts should wait until the legal dust has settled, creating an opening for everyone's favorite nemesis, Microsoft. To take advantage of the SCO/IBM battle, Microsoft has not-so-subtly switched its tactics in battling Linux, and is now providing hard-hitting facts about the ways in which its Windows Server systems stack up against the open source challenger. One of those facts, of course, is that there are no intellectual property (IP) questions for companies rolling out Windows Server.

None of this will stop the constant flow of progress that has marked Linux's development since its inception, however. On the kernel end, Linus Torvalds continues his work improving the core Linux technologies. Around the world, thousands of open source developers continue providing various device drivers and low-level utilities that make the overall system more useable. Companies large and small continue to contribute to the Linux distributions that corporations deploy, and industry giants such as IBM and HP continue to hone their open source offerings, even as the companies' lawyers fend off and evaluate the SCO legal threat.