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The Guardian UK: Linux's Perilous Victory

May 18, 2000, 08:15 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Karlin Lillington)

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"Will success spoil Linux? After a spectacular rise from little known, hobbyist operating system to the fastest growing OS in the computing market and bona fide commercial phenomenon, Linux is at the centre of some collective soul-searching...."

"It's an absolutely fascinating development, and it's glowing red-hot in the US," says analyst Martin Hingley, vice president of the European systems group in the UK offices of International Data Corporation (IDC). Why? "The customer is looking to avoid being tied to a single source [for an operating system]," he says. Linux can be downloaded by anyone for free from the internet, or, if you opt for some CDs and instructions, is available from companies such as Red Hat and SuSE at a small charge (under £50). At last count, more than 145 sources offered a version of Linux."

"The benefit is control," says Red Hat's chief executive Bob Young. "People are no longer beholden to their vendor." If Linux is (in the favourite American phrase) the poster child of the open source movement, then North Carolina-based Red Hat is the poster child for Linux. Yet such are the odd twists and turns of the Linux tale, that Red Hat itself is now seen by some as the Linux vendor that's getting too big and too successful, following an initial public offering (IPO) and the establishment of its own acquisitions fund."

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