Linux Looks Good On Server

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2001-05-21 Print this article Print

But operating system's future on client remains cloudy.

The Linux revolution is turning into an evolution, with its prospects on the server and client splitting into two distinct paths of unequal fortune.

The disparity in the successes of Linux came to the fore last week when new TPC-H benchmarks showed that IBMs upcoming DB2 7.2 database running on Linux 2.4.3 outperformed Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server 2000 running on Windows 2000 in the 100GB database category.

But Linux on the client is not faring nearly as well. Eazel, a company working on an easy-to-use Linux desktop graphical interface and file manager, closed its doors last week after failing to raise a second round of funding.

The imbalance has less to do with the quality of the open-source desktop technology and far more to do with the fact that investors do not see a sustainable business model for commercial desktop open-source companies.

Eazels closure highlights the crisis facing the Linux desktop business. The fact that Linux holds less than a 2 percent share of the market for desktop systems last year has prompted financiers and investors to become increasingly reluctant to fund such ventures.

As Darin Adler, the former leader of Eazels Nautilus team and based in Los Angeles, aptly put it, "Linux on the desktop has not been compelling, and it remains unclear how long it will be before Linux gains widespread adoption on the desktop."

Al Gillen, an International Data Corp. analyst in Framingham, Mass., said that while the server market remains compelling for Linux, "I see no promising future for Linux on the desktop through 2005."

A Linux developer, who declined to be named, said Eazels failure to raise new capital centered on the fact that it went through about $11 million in venture capital, and all it had to show for it was a file manager.

LGP could not be reached for comment; Corel officials in Ottawa said the negotiations to sell its desktop distribution "have not gone as smoothly as we would have liked and are taking longer than we first thought they would."

The news on the server front is as good as the desktop news is bad, however. The TPC win signals that Linux is moving toward becoming a true mission-critical, enterprise-class system that can effectively compete with the Unix and Windows platforms.

That Linux has finally made it onto the business map in the area of database benchmarks is another indication of the ground it continues to break.

"The most impressive aspect of this benchmark is that Linux is capable of some serious computing," said a Linux user in San Diego. "Who would have thought a few years ago that we would have IBM DB2 clusters even thinking of running on Linux? The potential over the next few years is staggering." ´

LGP initially agreed to pay $5 million in cash for Corels Linux arm, also allowing Corel to retain 20 percent rights in the new company. But a source close to the negotiations said the price has been slashed to $1.5 million—and the deal is still not finalized.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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