The biggest barrier to the success of the Linux open source operating system will be the attitude of users, warned one of IBM's top exectuives at its Business Partners Executive Conference in New Orleans this week.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager of IBM's Internet division, and former head of the RS/6000 unit, claimed: "Users are scared of open software. A customer doesn't want to phone us up and say: "my system is down," and have us say: "Well, I'm sorry, its open software, call Mr Torvalds.""
He added: "The most interesting thing about Linux is the whole open software model. We are all learning about that model, but we need to work out how to support it."
But Wladawsky-Berger said it was important to note that IBM was involved and committed to the open source model and he drew parallels between Linux and what Big Blue was doing with the Apache Web server.
"The only version of Apache we support is the one we have tested in our labs. Maybe we will take a similar approach with Linux," he continued, adding that IBM was considering supporting Linux on its RS/6000 and Netfinity machines.
But he did not believe that Linux would be a major threat to Big Blue?s own flavour of Unix, Aix. "The two don't play in the same markets," he argued.
This month, IBM said it was reconsidering plans to offer a free version of its DB2 database for Linux, after it claiming to receive overwhelming demand from customers. However, it is also evaluating whether to charge for the product.
And next week will see Linux gain further momentum when Hewlett Packard is expected to announce a company wide Linux strategy at the Linux World conference in San Jose, California.
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