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IBM dubs Linux as realistic champion against NT

It's not your father's OS2

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Big Blue is embracing the open source movement in general, and Linux in particular, with a vengeance, and no doubt with the painful lessons of their spectacularly unsuccessful OS/2 still in mind. The company is moving ahead with ambitious plans to produce various network systems built around Linux, which it will be able to license at a considerable savings compared with Windows NT/2k. And Linux is not just cheaper, it's better, especially for the applications of the next decade. It is in fact the "ideal platform" for the next generation of Internet-based computing and information technologies, IBM Technology and strategy VP Irving Wladawsky-Berger asserted Thursday at the LinuxWorld conference in New York. This next generation of computing and information technology, Wladawsky-Berger believes, will depend on the flexibility of function and modular design features for which Unix and Linux are often preferred to NT. Future online computing will require integrated support for a vast array of services, voice and video, wireless access, high bandwidth landline access, supercomputing, and data storage and retrieval. All of these will be crucial for industry to take the next step in online business, Wladawsky-Berger said. Linux, he is convinced, will make that step easier and cheaper than any other platform. The company has no plans to develop its own Linux distribution, but will license from the major Linux vendors such as Red Hat, Caldera and SuSE those distros that best suit their systems on a case by case basis. We are persuaded by the wisdom of this approach already. By licensing an open source OS, Big Blue can make a very favourable impression on the thousands of small-to-medium sized business users for whom the cost of licensing NT is prohibitively high. IBM may indeed make inroads into Microsoft territory. And if so, they will finally redeem the colossal folly of OS/2, which was far too expensive to entice Windows users. It must be a painful thought to IBM strategists that if they had released the OS2 source code when they developed it, Micro$oft might not be half the Titan that it is today. ®

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