Unit sales of Linux-based servers in western Europe this year will reach 182,000, according to analyst IDC, and the figure is set to triple, with revenues doubling to $1.9bn by 2007.
The bullish server figures are contained in IDC's white paper, Linux as a Platform for Business, prepared as part of the build-up to the first LinuxWorld UK event, which is being held at the NEC on 3-4 September.
Last year, 15 per cent of servers were shipped with Linux, up 1.4 per cent on the year before. But the operating system's low cost means that it represented just 5.1 per cent of factory revenues.
Martin Hingley, vice president of European systems at IDC, and co-author of the report, told vnunet.com: "I don't see anything stopping Linux now.
"It's too late to strangle it at birth, although we may see some slowing while open source legal issues get resolved. But they will be resolved."
He added that public sector support is very strong and that there has been a big uptake in financial services and retail. This year had seen a shift towards taking on Windows, not just the legacy flavours of Unix.
"It's a user-driven issue," said Hingley. "When there's an economic slowdown - as there is now - the vendors have to listen to the users who are concerned with cost."
The report, which included feedback from 1,000 businesses, found users bullish about the benefits of Linux, including its robustness, scalability and, more controversially, its management capabilities.
IDC cited the wide peer review of the open code as a reason for high reliability when compared with proprietary operating systems such as the Unix flavours and Windows.
But the analyst warned that it is too early to project Linux desktop figures. Despite this, 15.5 per cent of users had already considered Linux as a Windows PC alternative.
Hingley explained that Linux desktop installation procedures needed improvement, and that having a choice of, for instance, graphical user interfaces is not necessarily a good thing.
Looking ahead, the report stated: "The Linux solution stack is improving, making it possible to see a day in the near future when a company infrastructure for most corporate applications could be based on it."
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