Worldwide spending on Linux operating environments is predicted to hit $280m by 2006, despite declining last year.
Analyst firm IDC said that after two consecutive years of substantial growth, Linux operating environment revenues fell by almost five per cent in 2001 when compared to the previous year.
Despite the decline, IDC stressed that Linux had fared better than most when compared to other platforms, with the notable exception of Microsoft's Windows which was the only operating environment to see positive revenue growth last year.
The analyst expects spending on Linux to increase over the next five years from $80m in 2001 to $280m in 2006, representing a 28 per cent compound annual growth rate.
New licence shipments of server operating environments (SOEs) experienced flat growth from last year, while client unit shipment growth was up by nearly 50 per cent.
IDC said that its research showed that the surge in client operating environment (COE) shipments was driven largely by growth in Asia/Pacific, which contributed to 34 per cent of total new Linux COE and SOE licence shipments in 2001.
IDC research director Al Gillen said: "The previously strong growth of Linux SOE shipments was interrupted during 2001, but Red Hat still captured a dominant share of the SOE market.
"We also saw China's Red Flag and Brazil's Conectiva make strong contributions to the Linux COE market, which continued to grow at a healthy pace."
Gillen explained that, despite the unconventional way Linux is bought and sold, it has become a mainstream choice for many organisations, particularly because the software is available either free on the network or as a low-cost packaged product that can be deployed on low-cost, high-volume systems.
In addition, he said that Linux is often packaged with other open source software such as Samba for file/print services, Apache for web services, and MySQL or PostgreSQL for data management, which makes it a highly functional and cost-effective environment.
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