Michael Dell, chief executive of Dell, believes Linux is the best Unix-on-Intel product on the market, although IBM's Monterey product may still win his vote in the future.
This view will be a blow to SCO, which Dell currently resells on some of its servers. When IBM and SCO finally complete their combined operating system project, Monterey, Dell may start reselling that, but the chief executive is keeping his options open.
"We are looking at Monterey as our 64-bit Unix strategy to deliver Itanium," he said, but admitted that no decision had been made yet. "There is no clear x86 Unix that has emerged as a viable platform [on Intel]...Linux is the best answer as a Unix solution today," he said, speaking at a press conference in London today.
A Dell spokesman confirmed that for the time being, the company's operating system strategy was Windows 2000, Windows 64-bit and Linux.
The Intel-based PC and server company has been selling products with Linux installed for a year now, with Dell estimating that it accounts for around five per cent of total revenue.
"Linux is the sort of product that just turns up in your organisation. Lots of customers I talk to say they didn't purposely buy Linux, it just turned up in their enterprise. It did that at my company," said Dell.
The company runs Linux servers internally and also has a test area to learn more about the Linux operating system, he said.
At the end of this month Dell will announce a new range of products, targeted specifically at ISPs, telcos and the Internet functions of large enterprises. The new brand will kick off with dedicated server boxes for Internet cacheing and website hosting. They will be rack mountable and come preinstalled with either Linux and Apache Webserver or Microsoft's Windows 2000 and Internet Information Server.
"These will be ultra thin, ultra low power consumption products," said Mark Wheeler, server marketing manager at Dell.
By June Dell will add clustering, security, application and database server packages to the new range, he said.
Dell also spoke to more than 200 senior UK executives earlier today in London, and had an afternoon meeting with the UK chancellor Gordon Brown to discuss possible technology contracts. He also met with BT to discuss possible joint initiatives based around ADSL and ISDN enabled PCs.
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