RealTime IT News

Linux Revolution Growing

Linux fans are coming together this week at the Linux World Expo to toast the operating system that has become the fastest-growing server operating environment ever.

About eight years ago, Linus Torvalds and a several thousand hackers created the Linux operating system. Linux was written to run on a PC with 4 Mbytes of RAM as a free version of the more expensive commercial Unix operating system.

Linux is currently the fastest-growing server operating environment, according to IDC Research. In 1998, more than 750,000 Linux servers were installed, reflecting a 212 percent growth rate and 17 percent of all new server placements. Linux may just be the greatest software story ever told.

Success for Linux means it was only a matter of time before fortune-500 companies recognized the free operating system as an alternative to Windows NT. Linux possesses true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, TCP/IP networking, and other advanced features. Many see Linux as NT's most serious competitor, and a most viable contender to loosen Microsoft's grip hold on the market.

Independence has been a fierce source of pride to the operating systems programmers who fear Linux might become just another freeware Mosaic, wiped out by commercial versions of the application. If Linux World this week is any indication, Linux coders' fear is far from becoming a reality.

IBM plans to announce support for the open-source operating system at the conference this week. The announcement of planned key alliances, flagship products and comprehensive service offering, makes IBM one of the first major tech companies to recognize Linux's versatility.

IBM will support major versions of Linux globally, giving customers a single point of contact for technical support. IBM will work with the four commercial distributors of Linux: Caldera Systems Inc., Pacific HiTech Inc., Red Hat Software Inc. and S.u.S.E. deploy Linux.

IBM isn't the only blue-chip company endorsing the deployment of Linux systems. Hewlett Packard is also exhibiting at Linux World this week. HP plans on introducing OpenMail. The program is part of HP's Unix enterprise messaging, based on Internet and ITU standards. OpenMail is designed for large enterprises as it has an installed base of 10 million seats.

HP believes that "many Linux server customers need the type of proven, enterprise capabilities that today's OpenMail customers enjoy. A Linux messaging/collaboration product based on the OpenMail 6.0 technology would give the Linux community a compelling alternative to generic Internet e-mail servers."

The Linux edition of HP's OpenMail application was demonstrated at the France '98 World Cup soccer tournament last year. One small OpenMail server was successfully used to provide communications for thousands of journalists and officials across the France '98 wide-area intranet.

Linux, and the whole open source movement, represents a revolution in software development that will continue to improve the computing systems built now and in the future with the support of mainstream tech companies offering value-added features and support.