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Linux Sees Open Field for Open Source

By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 2004; 9:30 AM

Plenty of tech experts have spent years trying to convince the general public that the Linux operating system is becoming more of a threat to Microsoft's Windows. With the LinuxWorld conference underway this week in San Francisco, there is finally a sure-fire sign that this may be the case: Microsoft won't be there.

This year's conference is expected to attract 10,000 people, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The paper said there also will be "more than 190 exhibitors, compared with 135 last year, according to IDG World Expo, which sponsors the event. One notable exception is Microsoft, which participated in LinuxWorld as an exhibitor last year, but not this year. Microsoft considers Linux a competitive threat and is making a major push to convince businesses that its Windows platform offers lower total cost for customer."

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Another strike at Microsoft's dominance? The paper noted that "Hewlett-Packard and Dell are expected to unveil new initiatives for Linux on the desktop." HP's vice president for Linux and Oracle's Linux veep are on tap to speak today at the conference, the Merc said.
San Jose Mercury News: Masses Gather For LinuxWorld This Week (Registration required)

"Folks like Sun and HP are enthusiastic about it. But even companies like IBM that have historically said it's a server phenomenon have seen the genuine interest not only in Asia but in large European and U.S. companies and are starting to wake up to it," Illuminata analyst Jonathan Eunice told Computerworld. "But it's still in its early days. To say Windows on [the] desktop is dominant is even too soft of a statement." Still, major vendors are paying money to come to LinuxWorld. In addition to Dell and HP, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Intel, Computer Associates and Oracle will be showing off Linux-related products and ventures at the expo, Computerworld said.

Bloomberg had more on HP's Linux inroads, noting HP "is including the Linux operating system in its fastest servers for the first time to court large companies that are trying to cut computing costs. Hewlett-Packard began running Linux, which is gaining as a cheaper alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, on its full line of servers a year earlier than planned, said Martin Fink, vice president of Linux at the Palo Alto-based company," Bloomberg reported.
Computerworld: Preview: LinuxWorld To Highlight Desktop Linux, Security
Bloomberg via the Los Angeles Times: Hewlett-Packard Adds Linux To Servers (Registration required)

Smaller companies are embracing Linux too. "Open source is just a more efficient, effective software business model," John Roberts of new company SugarCRM told CNET's News.com. "It's more than just cheaper software. It's a shift, a movement reshaping the dynamics of a modern software company." More from the article: "Increasingly, entrepreneurs like Roberts, along with investors, are eyeing open source as a better way to build software companies. Rather than incur huge start-up costs and recruit high-priced software sales executives, smaller companies are building their businesses around an open-source business model, where software source code can be viewed and enhanced by others. By tapping into the open-source world, fledgling software outfits can assemble their software products from freely available components. Volunteer programmers not only help develop the product, they also create a pool of potential customers for starting companies. In return, programmers develop new skills and get free software."
CNET's News.com: Breaking the Rules With Open Source

Linux is slowly gaining a respectable market share. "Industry research company IDC predicts that enough companies will see the benefits of a Linux desktop to increase paid shipments of the operating system from 3.4 million clients worldwide in 2002 to more than 10 million by 2007, giving Linux a small but respectable 6 percent of the desktop market," IDG News Service reported.

So what's the attraction of using Linux over more popular operating systems? IDC analyst Dan Kusnetsky told Computerworld: "Consumers interested in moving away from the Windows operating system could come to see Linux as a viable alternative – if it can support their need for Internet access, e-mail and access to Web-based applications, he said. And it could gain popularity among users hoping for a more secure alternative to Windows, he said. Developers of platform-neutral software such as Java-based applications and Web services might also come to favor Linux over Windows – if it allows them to create those applications using appropriate tools and if the price is right, he said."
IDG News Service via InfoWorld: The Business Case For Desktop Linux

Sun Rises on a Novell Idea

Meantime, Linux vendor Novell got some attention from the press and Wall Street yesterday with news that Sun Microsystems Inc. was toying with the idea of buying the company. From the article: "The long-ailing computer maker has looked at 'a number of acquisitions,' including software maker Novell Inc., said Sun President Jonathan Schwartz, as part of efforts to bolster its business in server systems and to angle for advantage against International Business Machines Corp. and Red Hat Inc., which sells the most popular version of the Linux operating system," the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Wall Street Journal: Sun MicroSystems Weighs Takeovers (Subscription required)

Schwartz wrote about Novell in his blog on Sunday. He "strongly suggested that acquiring the Massachusetts business technology firm could hurt a major Sun rival, IBM," the San Francisco Chronicle reported today. "Analyst Thomas Murphy of the Meta Group said that while buying Novell could pose big integration headaches for Sun, it would demonstrate the server giant's commitment to the Linux market. But Murphy also questioned the rationale for raising the issue in a blog, saying the entry may just be a way to stir things up," the paper said.
The San Francisco Chronicle: Sun Head Ponders Buying Novell

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