IBM servers running Linux will be used on terminals at a national convenience store chain in Japan to allow customers to download music, movies and other multimedia applications.
Lawson, one of Japan's largest local store chains, has placed the order for 15,200 IBM eServer xSeries servers and will install two machines supporting store terminals in each of 7600 branches to begin running in March 2001.
As well as downloading multimedia applications, the terminals will provide information from internet and satellite feeds. The terminals are already used to book airline reservations and order concert tickets.
The news follows Monday's news that Tesco will replace its Dos-based tills with checkouts running Linux, creating a thin client set-up across the food industry giant's network.
Makoto Takayama, managing director of the new business division at Lawson, said: "We realised there is no questioning the rapid growth of Linux and we wanted to take advantage of it. Linux was our first choice to run these new applications because [it] is easy to maintain and costs less than other operating systems to implement."
Analysts have said that Lawson's reasons for adopting Linux were sound, but warned that the long-term cost of the operating system has yet to be established.
Tony Lock, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, told vnunet.com: "This is a big shot in the arm for Linux. Having the backing of IBM has given it a large injection of credibility and Lawson's reasons for using it for the stated needs are sound."
"However, whilst it is obviously cheap to deploy we don't really know whether it is cheap or not in the long term. That will depend on how reliable and easy to maintain it proves to be," he added.
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