Novell chief executive Jack Messman predicts that over time there will remain only two Linux distributions: Suse (owned by Novel) and Red Hat.
Tons of companies today are using Linux to run hardware appliances (TiVo for instance). Until Novel and Red Hat stop charging for their software, these firms will continue to opt for free alternatives.
Furthermore, as long as there are developers with too much free time on their hands, distributions like Debian will stay around. At their jobs, they'll use it for non-production testing, or sneak it into production environments.
What Messman is hinting at however, is that these forks often are the result of religious beliefs taking precedence over common business sense. Businesses demand a level of support that individual programmers can't provide.
So, yes, for enterprise class server applications, Red Hat and Suse have set the standard. But there is a much larger Linux market out there that those two distributions will fail to service.
Messman at LinuxWorld Boston last year.
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