The Linux roll continues. The free operating system with more radical activist users than an animal rights jamboree at a pharmaceutical plant has just received yet another boost to its commercial hopes.
Intel and Netscape have now taken minority stakes in Red Hat Software, one of main proponents of commercial Linux-based solutions for the enterprise environment. Despite the investment, Linux users around the globe are adamant that, like lottery winners, the new fame and fortune won't change the software.
That is probably true as Linux users are psychotic about the software code remaining free and malleable, no matter what commercial stardom offers.
However, this new vote of support for Red Hat by Netscape and Intel will help change everyone else's view of Linux. Six months ago, the vast majority of IT managers would have laughed at the idea of ever running their businesses on Linux. They would of been right to laugh and even now Linux still has a long way to go in terms of enterprise tools and support. That said, the constant stream of support for Linux from major players, either in terms of cash or software support, has given the software some commercial respectability. With Intel and Netscape opening their wallets, Red Hat's drive into the enterprise has been accelerated, with the company planning to release more corporate products in the coming months.
Many Linux users are sceptical of the new support for their treasured operating system. They are right to be worried about larger IT companies buying stakes in leading Linux houses because they know that altruism is not high on their priority list. But all this backing is not to make the seven million existing users happy. It's to attract new users with lots of cash and plans to roll it out across tens or hundreds of sites.
These are the users all the Linux changes will benefit most. These are the users with the IT budgets. So while Linux may not change, its focus has and no matter how many existing supporters it already has, the future belongs to the new ones with cash. Sad, but true.
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