LinuxWorld: Panel says Linux doubts linger

The coming year will be vital for the future of Linux as corporate executives decide whether to make serious commitments to the open-source operating system, a panellist at the LinuxWorld Conference said here on Tuesday.

Many companies have been flirting with adopting Linux, often using the operating system in small-scale pilot projects, but now, company engineers are asking for a bigger commitment to deploy the operating system, said Greg Weiss, an analyst at DH Brown Associates.

"Large hardware OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are showing some support for Linux," said Weiss during a panel called "Working Together: The Linux and Business Communities".

"They are experimenting with the market, testing and seeing what happens," he added.

"Over the next year, if they can go back to management and say, 'See, it [Linux] helped us get the bugs out', upper management will be more receptive," Weiss saidBut Linux should make economic sense for companies, said David Sifry, co-founder and chief technical officer for Linuxcare Inc, a Linux consulting and support company.

"Companies need to recognise that Linux is going to help them sell more hardware," Sifry said. "More hardware support for Linux will mean more applications will be developed for Linux."

In addition to corporate misgivings about Linux, the operating system's advocates have eyed big business warily, concerned that the open-source model might be co-opted, with important features bundled into proprietary systems, according to panel moderator Jon "Mad Dog" Hall.

"What happens when the big companies become involved?" asked Hall, executive director of Linux International and Linux marketing director of VA Linux Systems. "Will they destroy Linux or make it better?"

Hall answered his own question, saying Linux proponents and companies can successfully work together to develop Linux.

More information about the LinuxWorld Conference is at http://www.linuxworldexpo.com/

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