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More users are looking at Linux

May 21, 1999
Web posted at: 3:20 p.m. EDT (1920 GMT)

by David Orenstein

(IDG) -- Although most information technology managers remain aloof to Linux, the free, Unix-like operating system is rapidly gaining enough credibility to merit a look from users at major companies, according to a Computerworld tracking survey.

Since February, the number that report either using or at least considering Linux has grown by 72%.

Analysts, who have also noted rapidly rising interest, said companies are taking notice of announcements from major vendors like IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. that agreed to support the operating system.

That rapidly building support infrastructure is earning Linux a second look at Minneapolis-based Polaris Industries Inc., a $1.1 billion maker of small vehicles. The company looked at Linux as an intranet server a year and a half ago but rejected it after realizing that the desired applications won't run on the platform, said Phillip Krahn, manager of IT assessment.

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The company still has no plans to adopt Linux, Krahn said, but "I guess if support continues to build like it has with more applications, I could see it being used for special applications like a Web server."

Several companies will make Linux-related announcements next week, in part because the fifth annual Linux Expo will take place, in Raleigh, N.C. The announcements are to include the following:

BEA Systems Inc. in San Jose will release Linux versions of its WebLogic application server and its Tuxedo transaction monitor. The tools will help fill the void of middleware available for Linux, said Dan Kusnetsky, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

Silicon Graphics Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., will announce its wide embrace of Linux and open source code.

But among the three quarters of IT managers who are neither using nor considering Linux, the operating system still faces substantial hurdles. More than 80% of those managers said they aren't looking at Linux because they adopted a different operating system.

For example, San Francisco-based construction giant Bechtel Corp., which has about 1,000 Windows NT servers, is unlikely to adopt Linux, said software development manager Kevin Cornish. Some of the servers -- especially those overseas -- are tended by users who don't have the skills to manage Linux. Adding another operating system to the mix could make administration too complex, he said.

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