The Internet nurtures Linux
July 2, 1999
by Jack McCarthy
AUSTIN, Texas (IDG) -- The growth of the Internet is helping fuel the popularity of Linux, according to a series of speakers at the Open Source Forum here this week.
As companies grow their Internet operations and reconfigure systems to operate online, they have the opportunity to reexamine their choice of systems and consider Linux, they say.
Linux, developed in its essence by Linus Torvalds in 1991, is a UNIX-like operating system created through the collaboration of unpaid developers on the Internet and is publicly available for distribution.
The need to increase Internet operations is making Linux attractive to some companies because of its low cost, stability, and easy modification, says Ransom Love, president and chief executive officer of Caldera Systems, which distributes Linux.
"As the browser becomes the dominant interface for desktop use, Linux will kick butt," Love says. "Linux provides an excellent Internet environment. It requires minimal resources, and yet it gives full Internet connectivity."
Companies are interested in using software that can be customized and serviced cheaply, a demand rapidly filled by Linux distribution companies such as Red Hat Software, SuSe Holding, TurboLinux, and Caldera, says Eric Raymond, an early proponent of open source development and a manager with VA Linux, a distributor of Linux systems.
New companies such as Red Hat succeed by simply offering service for Linux installation rather than developing their own software, Raymond says. "Red Hat and others are saying that if you buy this product, you get quality assurance and the value of a relationship," he says.
Open source developers are writing standards and testing procedures for Linux use, says John "Maddog" Hall, executive director of the nonprofit group Linux International and an executive with VA Linux. The Linux operating system is becoming mainstream, he says.
Between 12 million and 15 million installed systems run Linux, compared to a total of about 215 million operating systems installed worldwide, Hall says.
Linux is at least getting a second look.
"We want to manage the cost of desktop operations and increase stability," says Gene Dickamore, business systems manager for Arup Labs, a medical reference laboratory. "I'm seeing major changes in how you develop software, and this open-source OS may be real."
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