IBM to Preload Servers with Choice of Linux

Customers of IBM's Netfinity servers will now be able to buy machines pre-loaded with the Linux operating system and will be able to choose from three flavors of the ever-popular open-source software.

Top Linux vendors Red Hat, Caldera Systems and TurboLinux separately announced yesterday that IBM will either pre-install or bundle their Linux versions on Netfinity servers. An IBM official quoted in the written statements said that customers increasingly want Linux as an OS option, and also noted its value for companies doing business on the Internet.

The announcements are part of a "continual stream" related to IBM servers and Linux, said Jay Bretzmann, IBM manager of strategy for Netfinity in an interview. IBM had announced plans to work with Caldera, and yesterday's news represents the "next set of steps" in that partnership as well as in providing Linux enthusiasts a broader range of options, he said.

IBM will continue to consider other possible Linux vendors with whom to partner, he said, adding that the Linux community tends to be "price sensitive" and also likes to have more software options than do other OS users.

Linux versions have different strengths and are better suited to different uses, he said, adding, "it's not like they're all overlapping."

In other Linux news, IDC released research noting that "Linux server purchases are strongly tied to the Internet." The market researcher found that servers running Microsoft's Windows NT and Linux are used to host similar applications and perform similar functions.

"That was a little surprising to us," said Matt Eastwood, IDC Commercial Systems and Servers research manager.

Linux is increasingly popular as an OS on servers running back-office software, he said. The research report released today found that a little more than 60 percent of spending on NT and almost 55 percent on Linux was for back-office and collaborative software use. Though Linux remains prevalent for front-end systems that are less robust, that is changing, he said.

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