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Massive growth in Linux is ‘historic inevitability’

IDC paints bright future for Penguinistas

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Analysts IDC Research are predicting massive growth in the Linux server market - and a wider use of the open source operating system on desktops - over the next four years.

This year IDC expects Linux to ship on over 162,000 servers in Western Europe, a market worth $621 million. By 2007 this figure is expected to triple in volume so that Linux will be running on half a million servers. Lower costs of ownership and reduced licensing fees are driving the development of the market, according to IDC.

"The fact is that all major server vendors throughout Europe and worldwide, are prepared to sell and support Linux servers," says Martin Hingley, VP of IDC's European Systems Group, "and this will continue to fuel the spread of Linux."

The SCO/IBM lawsuit could slow down the Linux market temporarily, but it will not halt the long-term rise of the operating system, according to Hingley.

The survey - sponsored by organisers of Linuxworld trade show, due to take at the Birmingham's NEC in September, paints a bright future for the open source operating system.

Even on the desktop, users are picking up on the Linux story, with 15.5 per cent of business users considering this option in IDC's latest user survey. Although developments are taking longer than in the server market, IDC expects the introduction of Web Services to accelerate the adoption of Linux as an alternative to Windows.

Hingley comments: "Sun's latest low-cost Linux PC, scheduled to ship in the summer of 2003, could spur a wider use of the system on desktops. Sun has also shipped a large number of its Star Office application suite, and Lindows, a small start-up also has ambitions to create personal productivity tools comparable with Microsoft."

Other moves, such as Oracle's decision, announced in February, to offer technical support to customers using open-source software from the United Linux Consortium, are also encouraging people to consider Linux. And Ximian, a make of Linux-based desktop-productivity applications, has stated that a version of its software, to be released shortly, will tightly integrate with Windows.

LinuxWorld UK Event Director Brian Reffell who commissioned the report, says: "There is a lot of enthusiasm in the UK for Linux because many companies want to break away from the vendor lock-in of Linux alternatives. The Internet has also been a major driving force for the use of Linux in recent years.

"Although take-up in certain sectors such as scientific and Bio IT areas is more prevalent, we expect other sectors such as finance and government to start expressing a real interest in Linux," he added. ®

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