IDC: Linux likely to lead OS growth

Growth in commercial shipments of the Linux operating system (OS) will outpace other client or server operating environments through 2003, according to market researcher International Data Corp. (IDC), which for the first time has removed the increasingly popular Linux from the "other" category in its OS reporting.

Linux commercial shipments will grow at a compound annual rate of 25 percent from this year through 2003, compared to 10 percent for all other client operating environments IDC tracks, and 12 percent for all other server operating environments combined, IDC said yesterday. The market researcher has prepared its first-ever Linux forecast in a new bulletin, "Linux Operating System Market Overview."

IDC decided to view Linux separately because analysts there have tracked increased use of Linux and demand for research regarding the OS, a cousin to the multi-flavored Unix platform. Linux was developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds and remains an open-source OS, available free on the Internet, with vendors selling commercial implementations.

In recent months, a flurry of top-shelf vendors have announced support for the OS, for which more applications also are hitting the market. IDC expects that to continue as more application vendors port their products to Linux and hardware makers expand the number of machines that operate on Linux for server-side use.

Linux also has the potential to hit the desktop OS market as 2003 approaches, IDC said, with an enhanced graphical user interface (GUI) and more desktop applications boosting that market.

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