Linux server sales grew 35 per cent in the first three months of 2003, generating $583m (£358m) in revenues, according to new figures from analyst IDC.
The penguin provided the bright spot in a maket where overall sales continued to fall compared with 2002 although, at 3.6 per cent down, the fall was less than the five per cent decline year-on-year seen the previous quarter.
"Unit growth and factory revenue in the Linux market continue to climb, driven by increasing functionality for Linux server hardware and software and by intense competition between all the major server vendors," said Jean Bozman, research vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC.
Hewlett Packard (HP) continues to lead the Linux market, but Dell and IBM are working hard to post market-share gains, the analyst added.
IDC also said that strong sales of volume servers showed that users are still adding capacity, but with low-cost, rack-optimised servers.
"Worldwide server sales reflect new buying patterns that have emerged during the economic downturn of 2001-2002," said Vernon Turner, group vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC.
In the highly consolidated Unix server market competition continued to be fierce, with HP and Sun locked together at the top, separated by just 0.2 point of market share.
In third place, IBM gained five points of market share in a sector which declined 12.9 per cent on 12 months ago, generating $4.3bn in sales.
"The intense price competition between the top three Unix server vendors continues to make the number one position in the Unix server market - including Unix servers based on Risc and on x86 architectures - difficult to predict," concluded Turner.
The Windows server market - the largest single segment by unit shipments worldwide - saw revenues increase to $3.2bn, 10 per cent more than generated in the first three months of 2002.
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