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Red Herring: Analyst View: Untangling the open-source explosion

May 15, 2000, 17:52 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Keith Bachman)

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"During the coming year, we believe the IT industry will experience a major inflection point, with the open-source movement serving as a primary catalyst for the change."

"Open-source projects are taking the world by storm. For instance, International Data Corporation recently indicated that Linux operating system shipments grew by 93 percent in 1999, giving Linux a 25 percent market share, second only to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows NT. Linux also had a higher market share than all flavors of Unix combined. Linux is growing rapidly because it is relatively inexpensive, very reliable, and evolving rapidly, particularly compared to Windows NT. In a traditional proprietary software model, a limited number of people design and develop the software, and new product releases are infrequent at best. With open source, thousands of developers participate in software development across the globe; bug fixes and product enhancements occur daily."

"It is important to differentiate between Linux and open source, which are frequently used as synonymous terms. Open source is an innovative way to develop software, whereby the source code -- the basic set of instructions for the program -- is available to be freely reviewed, modified, and redistributed by the general public. Instead of a single organization creating the software code, open-source software is developed across many different organizations, academic institutions, and even international boundaries. Linux, which is the most visible and successful open-source project to date, is an operating system like Microsoft Windows or Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW)'s Solaris, and it is available to download for free over the Internet. Unlike closed-source software, for which vendors charge for each copy in use, anybody can copy Linux, use it, modify it, distribute it, or sell it."

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