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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Linux goes from strength to strength
Penguin logo
The penguin has become synonymous with Linux
San Francisco is playing host to one of the key gatherings for supporters of the open source software, the Linuxworld Expo.

Since Linux made its first appearance 11 years ago the operating system has gone from strength to strength and now has a huge influence on the technology world.

Its open model of sharing the core instructions of computer code, its insistence on good programming work, peer review and free-wheeling community ethic has grown in stature alongside the net.

In its first incarnation Linux was the work of Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds who worked into it elements of software created by Richard Stallman. Now it is maintained and updated by a loose group of programmers spread around the world.

Sun's out for Linux

As its name implies Linux is a version of the venerable and hugely influential Unix operating system created more than 30 years ago.

Linus Torvalds
Torvalds created the Linux kernel
Events and announcements at the 2002 Linuxworld Expo show how the operating system is evolving and how it is being adopted and adapted by the biggest technology companies.

One of the big announcements at the show comes from Sun Microsystems which is unveiling a range of cheap servers that will run Linux.

A server co-ordinates the work of desktop computers or does work on their behalf.

The majority of the servers on the internet use the Apache software that runs on top of Linux.

Sun's announcement is significant because before now it has been selling servers and software of its own design, but also based on Unix.

Microsoft attending

For it to start offering Linux shows how important it is becoming for general purpose computer tasks inside many companies.

Linux at a glance
Created by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds
Cheaper and more secure than Microsoft software
Worth $280m by 2006
Fans include Deutsche Telekom, IBM and Morgan Stanley
Scott McNealy, head of Sun, is giving a keynote speech at the Expo as is Sergey Brin, co-founder of top web search engine Google.

Other announcements are due from long-time Linux advocate IBM and Hewlett-Packard which is expected to show off software that helps Linux work with its printers.

One of the surprise attendees at the show is Microsoft.

Many see the software giant as the antithesis of everything that Linux stands for.

But Microsoft is increasingly having to take notice of Linux and has even started letting key partners look at the source code of Windows, though this policy is a long way from the atmosphere of open enquiry that Linux espouses.

In the past Microsoft employees have visited the Linuxworld show but this is the first year that the software giant has rented a stand.

Microsoft is not announcing its conversion to Linux but instead is expected to show-off cut down versions of its operating system such as Windows CE as well as software that can run some Unix programs.

Also expected at the show are announcements from a variety of large companies that show how they are starting to use Linux for large projects.

Sales slowing

Converts to Linux include Air New Zealand, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Telekom.

Linux is gaining corporate fans is because it is cheap, easy to maintain and much more secure than Microsoft software.

However, figures released before the show suggest that the sales of Linux are slowing.

Analysis from research firm IDC said that sales of Linux software declined almost 5% in 2001 to $80m. But it expected this to recover to grow to a $280m market in 2006.

Some criticised the figures saying they did not give an accurate picture because they only counted boxed software sales rather than downloads or the numbers of computers actually running the bought software.

Are you a fan of Linux? Or do you find it hard to use? Tell us what you think of it.

I worked as Linux/Oracle administrator. Linux is flexible and friendly. In any time I can understand what does my system do and what type of activity presents. I have several possibilities to solve any system task with free and stable soft under Linux.
Alexey Kravets, Russia

Due to Linux, our ISP company survived at the of the Nimda Virus. Other websites which were running on IIS Windows NT were effected badly. I am not against Windows, as I am also using it but in security manner Linux is the number one.
Raj Kumar, India

We bought one copy. It is installed on about 100 machines for production and development.
Ed Soniat, USA

Linux is a good piece of engineering, however it is not unique. Its success is largely due to a political climate of the early 1990's when many people felt Microsoft and their products, and those of other large vendors, were becoming intolerable, for various reasons. This combined with the coming of the Internet to the technophiles, creating a communications infrastructure to allow Linux to develop quickly and in a coordinated way. Linux was a political and a software-engineering success, we should be thankful for that, but not be naive enough to look for some inherent technical superiority over other offerings.
Dan Sheppard, England

Linux is an amazing product. It is stable, it is cheap and it is highly configurable. To run Windows effectively, you always need the best hardware, the fastest processor, the most memory, Linux can be run on old machines that companies would have thrown out years ago. Most places that I have worked are Microsoft shops but from experience I know that when you set a Linux box going, you can literally leave it there for years and it will keep running.
Vish, UK

I'm an IT professional who develops applications for databases. I've found it easier to set up a Linux machine as a database server than any other Unix system.
Duncan, UK

Linux will outsell Microsoft over time. Unix technology has been many times expensive and the big box boys never seriously took PCs. Microsoft and Intel proved them wrong. With Linux, this is history and it sits threateningly before Microsoft at $0. However, in near future we will see the Unix boxes disappearing for Linux. Europe and Asia will see an accelerated adoption of Linux
A M Kumar, USA

Linux will be great (not that it isn't now) after younger generations grow up with it and understand it as though it were a second language. By having open source, the possibilities of advancement in software increases exponentially with the younger generations contributing towards it.
Nauert, USA

I first tried Linux back in 1997, and since 1998 I stopped using Windows completely. Life is wonderful without constantly crashing computers and countless reboots. And I do not feel any gaps in terms of the availability of application programs for Linux.
Dmitri, Denmark

I think Linux is great. If there were more games written for this fantastic OS, then I'd definitely convert...
Piers, UK

I have been running Linux for over two years now and have never needed to reboot the machine. I run my own e-mail server, HTTP server, and other services for personal and commercial interests. The value of Linux for individuals is reliability. Once you get something working, you can just leave it, sort of like an answering machine that just works. I wish Windows was more like that.
Rajat Gupta, USA

I use Linux SuSE 8.0 at work and at home. My Linux machines have never crashed or locked up, whereas my associates Windows 2000 machines always have problems. My kids want me to install it because they notice I never have to reboot. They also like all the games that come with it.
Douglas Phillipson, USA

I am a Unix user, but some of the guys in our office are using Linux. It's pretty amazing. They are running high end design software at twice the speed as me on a machine that cost 15 times less.
Ben, Germany

I am Linux fan. I am using Linux Suse 8.0 download edition, everything goes smoothly, it is easy.
Sutoto, Singapore

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See also:

03 Jun 02 | Business
25 May 02 | Science/Nature
15 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
11 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
08 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
25 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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