The Linux community gathered to celebrate a year of success last week - and confirmed that the open source movement is becoming more business-orientated by the day.
"It's geared towards business users this year," said Nii Larnyoh, internet strategist at newmediastaff.com, at the second UK Linux Expo and Conference at Olympia. "There aren't as many technical people this year."
Adam Wood, technology analyst at Deutsche Bank, estimated that there are now between 14 million and 18 million Linux users worldwide. "We believe that Linux will grow and continue to get market share," he said.
Hardware vendors showing off
The biggest noisemakers at the show, attended by 7,000 professionals, were hardware vendors such as Intel, SGI and Dell. SGI was showing off its 230L Linux Visual Workstation, 1200L two-way server, and 1450 four-way server. SGI has partnered with IBM to ship Websphere and DB2 for Linux with the 1450. Dell shared a stand with dominant Linux distributor Red Hat.
IBM made a concerted effort to be seen as a Linux believer. In a keynote speech, Adam Jollans, IBM's Linux marketing manger, took a swipe at Microsoft, alleging that "static" Windows 2000 sales had provided a spur for the growth of Linux. He said that Linux's scalability, cross-platform capabilities and open source nature will "encourage continued sales".
Other hardware converts included Alpha Processor, a division of Samsung, showcasing its Alpha-based motherboards and chipsets; Equinox Systems, a provider of high-speed serial communications products for remote access, point-of-sale and process control; Baydel, a supplier of high-end storage solutions; and Corega, a maker of low-cost switches, hubs and network adaptors.
Support and services take the stage
A number of support and services companies were also exhibiting, including LinuxSure.com, which offers a free 30-day Linux Evaluation service. A sister site, LinuxFreeSupport.com, offers free online support and supports all major Linux distributions.
Software management company Acrylis also launched whatiflinux.com, an online subscription service which profiles the open source software running on a user's machines and delivers updates and security alerts. A What-If? decision support tool allows users to gauge the effect of installing patches or software packages.
Voices from the conference floor
Nii Larnyoh, internet strategist, newmediastaff.com: "It's good to see a lot of support and services companies here. Linux is always one step behind Windows NT in terms of hardware support, because hardware manufacturers are not willing to release the code, which means developers have to do things the hard way. But Linux is still a young market, and any hardware manufacturer that supports it will instantly become a leader."
Neeraj Malhotra, systems analyst, Friends of the Earth: "We are implementing a new mission-critical contact management system, but the packaged software out in the market is all for NT. The message is that Linux isn't [on the desktop] yet, that people still want to run Excel and Word. The different Linux distributions are coming together to lay down standards but haven't got there yet. I'm excited about it as a concept, but sceptical at the moment."
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