Linux Favored by Asia's Developing Nations

SINGAPORE (04/05/2000) - The open-source Linux operating system is being enthusiastically looked at by companies in Asia's developing nations like India, China, Korea and Malaysia, but is less popular in wealthier countries such as Japan and Singapore.

"Singapore is lagging behind (on Linux adoption)," said Lau Shih Hor, managing director of local software development company Elixir Technology Pte. Ltd.

"People here ask why should they put their heads on the chopping block by not choosing IBM (Corp.) or Microsoft (Corp.) Windows."

In a presentation at Comdex Asia here today, Lau picked out India and Malaysia as two countries especially keen to take advantage of the potential cost benefits of using Linux.

"With Linux, you can save S$500 (US$290) per seat when you consider all the server and client licenses you would otherwise pay," he said. "Linux has been proved to be stable, its ease of use is improving very quickly, and all the major industry players except Microsoft have endorsed it."

The Linux community is also working hard to improve the OS in areas where it is still regarded as lagging behind Microsoft NT, a prime example being SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, Lau said.

Following disputed benchmark tests last year conducted by Mindcraft Inc. which claimed Microsoft NT Server 4.0 outperformed the Linux 2.2 kernel by a factor of 2.5 to 1 as a file server on a four-processor system, Linux engineers are now readying the 2.4 kernel which will include strong SMP support, Lau said.

Linux will see continual timely improvements, now has wide database and applications support, and is open for inspection and alteration -- a feature well regarded in China, which has its own encryption and security priorities, said Lau.

But there are still many misconceptions in Asia about Linux, such as the idea that it is a piecemeal system put together by a few maverick engineers, according to Lau.

"The Linux market today is a very sophisticated and well-funded one," he said.

"There are probably 10 million commercial Linux users today and the number is growing faster than for all other OSes."

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