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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 11:52 GMT
Linux shares rocket
Wall Street's love affair with everything to do with the Linux computer operating system continues.
Shares of VA Linux systems - maker of computers and servers running the operating system - gained almost 700% when the company was floated on the Nasdaq high-tech market on Thursday.
The offer price had been $30, but shares surged to $320 before ending the day's trading at $239.25 - showing a 698% profit.
It was the biggest first-day gain recorded on the market, taking the crown from internet stock globe.com, which had risen by 606% on the day of its initial public offering (IPO).
Analysts had predicted that VA Linux would do well, but hardly expected anything so spectacular.
Irv DeGraw, research director with Wordfinancenet.com, joked: "35 years of IPO research down the toilet." He said Linux fever had replaced the dot com mania.
At VA Linux's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, champagne corks were popping as the stock market news came in.
One employee said: "It's pretty crazy. Today is going to be a low productivity day."
The Linux operating system is distributed free and is derived from the Unix system mainly used to run large computers. It currently runs about a third of all web servers.
It was created by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds in an attempt to transfer Unix's reliability to the world of personal computing.
The program has been refined by thousands of volunteers around the world, and is prefered by some to the industry standard, Microsoft's Windows NT. They say its advantages are great flexibility and that it is less likely to crash.
So far, Linux has been used mainly on servers. However, the operating system is gaining popularity as a consumer application.
Computer maker Dell has announced that it will install and support Linux systems on all its PowerEdge server models.
The software will be provided by Red Hat, a company specialising in selling "user-friendly" versions of Linux.
On Wednesday, another Linux-related flotation stunned the market. Andover.Net, which runs websites for the Linux and open-source software community, had jumped 252% to more than $63.
The stock gained another $14 on Thursday.
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