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PC World

Corporate doubts about Linux linger

August 12, 1999
Web posted at: 12:57 p.m. EDT (1657 GMT)

by Jack McCarthy

What's next for Linux?


SAN JOSE, CALIF. (IDG) -- The coming year will be vital for the future of Linux, as corporate executives decide whether to make serious commitments to the open-source operating system, a panelist at the LinuxWorld Conference said on Tuesday.

Many companies have been flirting with adopting Linux, often using the operating system in small-scale pilot projects, but now company engineers are asking for a bigger commitment to deploy the operating system, says Greg Weiss, an analyst at D.H. Brown Associates.

"Large [system makers] are showing some support for Linux," said Weiss during a panel discussion called "Working Together: The Linux and Business Communities." "They are experimenting with the market, testing and seeing what happens," he added.

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"Over the next year, if they can go back to management and say, 'See, [Linux] helped us get the bugs out,' upper management will be more receptive," Weiss said.

Vendors "need to recognize that Linux is going to help them sell more hardware," says David Sifry, cofounder and chief technical officer of Linuxcare, a Linux consulting and support company. "More hardware support for Linux will mean more applications will be developed for Linux."

In addition to corporate misgivings about Linux, the operating system's advocates have eyed big business warily, concerned that the open-source model might be co-opted, with important features bundled into proprietary systems, says panel moderator Jon "Mad Dog" Hall.

"What happens when the big companies become involved?" asks Hall, executive director of Linux International and Linux marketing director of VA Linux Systems. "Will they destroy Linux or make it better?"

Hall answered his own question, saying Linux proponents and corporations can successfully work together to develop Linux.

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