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Linux to Grow Steady for Next Four Years

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Linux is much more popular in the enterprise than previously thought,
according to a new report out today.

IT research firm IDC combined several of its data studies and threw
in a few that it didn’t already track to come up with a number that
suggests Linux is a mainstream force with a steady growth pattern for
the next four years.

IDC predicts the overall market revenue for desktops, servers and
packaged software running on Linux will exceed $35 billion by 2008.

The study also found packaged software is the fastest growing market
segment within the Linux marketplace in terms of revenue, growing 44
percent annually to more than $14 billion in 2008.

Key packaged software
markets on Linux include database, application server software,
application and management tools. These software revenues dwarf
revenues for the Linux distributions, the study said.

IDC analysts also pointed out that while “free” Linux deployments are
attractive, the reality is more commercial and government organizations
will move toward paid, supported copies like Red Hat and SUSE in the
West and TurboLinux, Red Flag and Asianux in the East.

While Microsoft Windows currently commands a 90 percent share of the
total market, the report suggests that Linux will chip away at Redmond’s
grasp in the relative short term, running in about
25.7 percent of all servers shipped vs. 63 percent for Windows-based
systems by 2008.

“When all manifestations of Linux operating systems are counted,
Linux is clearly a mainstream solution,” Vernon Turner, group vice
president of IDC and contributor to the report said. “We see a shift
where Linux server operating environment deployments are moving to favor
the use of enterprise server hardware.”

The IDC report follows a four-year study released yesterday showing
has a low bug count
, making the code more stable and secure.

“Just about every major hardware vendor concedes that Linux is the
No. 2 operating system based on new server shipments,” Stacey Quandt, a
senior business analyst at the Robert Frances Group told”Still many
independent software vendors do not support Linux and are still sitting
on the fence. Whether an IDC study with data from OSDL changes
this remains to be seen.”

Even though the study was partially funded by the Open Source
Development Labs (OSDL), folks there who help steward the Linux
operating system were overwhelmed with the results.

The fact is the methodology reflects the reality of the total market
and frankly its more impressive than we thought it was,” Bill Weinberg,
OSDL’s Open Source Architecture Evangelist, told

Weinberg said when the global economy was suffering, many
corporations turned to reducing IT staff and grabbing off-the-shelf
technology that needed less maintenance.

“We saw that especially in the telecommunications and enterprise
infrastructure,” he said. “The habits are still in place, but there seems
to be more funds available. We’re predicting 2005 a good year for IT
acquisition in which Linux can take advantage of that trend.”

Key to the study was IDC’s addition of non-traditional deployments of
servers with Linux as secondary or non-primary OS and redeployments.
Previous studies counted only the operating system that was shipped with
the computer — in this case Microsoft Windows — and not the one that
would eventually power the system.

Part of the confusion, according to Weinberg, is that most computers
ship with Microsoft Windows pre-installed. The OS is either later
discarded for a Linux distribution or operated as a dual-boot system.

The Linux evangelist said the reverse is true in places like China where
some consumers purchase Linux systems and wipe out the OS in favor of
some pirated Windows software.

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