"Linux, the free operating system developed by Finland's Linus
Torvalds, was organically grown by thousands of programmers around
the globe and once seemed out of place in the orderly world of
corporate computing. But a maturing Linux is starting to be used by
major companies to run key businesses. Royal Dutch/Shell Group and
Amerada Hess Corp. are using Linux-based supercomputers to sift
through seismic data, hunting for undersea oil. Home Depot Inc. is
starting to roll out Linux-based kiosks and point-of-sale systems
in a project that will involve installing 90,000 terminals at all
of its home-improvement stores."
"All operating systems function as a computer's chief
program--the software that runs every other program--but differ in
other respects. Linux is a variant of the popular Unix operating
system. Unlike other company-owned Unix variants such as Sun
Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, Linux is enhanced and backed by
programmers all over the world who disclose the code they develop
to each other by e-mail. Periodically, Torvalds evaluates the new
developments and designates the best as part of the Linux 'kernel'
for a new distribution. In January, Linux 2.4 was unveiled."
"Linux garnered a 27 percent share of operating-system software
for computer servers sold last year, up from 24 percent in 1999 and
17 percent in 1998, according to market-researcher International
Data Corp. Linux is one of only two major operating systems gaining
market share. The other, industry leader Microsoft Corp.'s Windows
2000 operating system, captured a 41 percent share last year, up
from 38 percent in 1999."