Linux growth is in servers, analysts say

Linux will have most success in the near term running servers for small and mid-sized companies, but it's not ready to become the leading operating system for large companies nor will it supplant Microsoft's Windows OS, analysts said at the Open Source Forum here.

"For high-end, mainframe computing, it (Linux) is not there yet," said William Peterson, a research manager with IDC. "Linux has scaling problems and its clustering tools are not ready yet."

Linux, developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds and others, is a Unix-like operating system that is freely available.

Linux has gained significant share in the server market, Peterson said, citing a recent IDC survey. The operating system's share grew 212 per cent in the server market from 1997 to 1998, capturing 17 per cent of the total market, he said. In the same period, Linux gained only 2.1 per cent of the client market, of which Microsoft's Windows held more than 90 percent, he said.

"I'm confident there is a growth path for the Linux operating environment in server-scale applications, for Internet appliances, gaming devices and for embedded computing such as Palm Pilots," Peterson said.

Microsoft's Windows NT will not be challenged by Linux for at least the next several years, said Nick Gall, director of open computing & server strategies for the META Group consultancy.

"I don't think Microsoft has anything to fear," Gall said.

However, possible dissatisfaction with Microsoft's planned release of Windows 2000 could convince some IT managers to switch to Linux, said Jim Johnson, president of the Standish Group.

"Nothing will slow down Microsoft except Microsoft," he said.

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