Embrace Linux now or miss the boat

Developing an intricate knowledge and understanding of Linux is the only way resellers will be able to make money out of the open-source operating system, it was claimed last week. For those who do cultivate familiarity, the rewards are expected to be significant.

Speaking at a Linux press gathering hosted by high-end hardware vendor Silicon Graphics (SGI), Graham Penn, general manager of research at IDC Australia, warned that resellers risk missing the boat if they aren't already actively evaluating its potential.

"Go and learn Linux now," Penn said of the opportunity for resellers. "Evaluate it. Get some expertise on how and where it applies. If it fits, use it now but you need the expertise to evaluate that."

Penn said Linux is not all things to all applications and that the real value is knowing where and how to use it, which of course is different for every system and customer. The only way to understand its strength and weaknesses is to get in there and get your hands dirty, Penn opined.

The operating system is gathering significant momentum in server applications but is still a fair way from being adopted broadly on the desktop, Penn claimed. Until there are ports to popular desktop applications, such as those offered by Microsoft and Corel, Linux's appeal will be limited mainly to servers.

"But watch this space," Penn said. "The Internet has moved Linux along very rapidly and the platform is very close to becoming mainstream.

"If the channel is involved with Linux, it will be the first line of support when the customer has any problems. So they better know the product. If they don't know how to support it and add value there is no need for a channel to even exist with an open-source system.

"There is a role for the channel if they can find a way to add value -- and charge for it, of course."

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