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.