Even Among Big Names, Linux OS Has a Future

Linux remains well behind operating systems such as Microsoft’s NT and Sun’s Solaris, but the open-source system does have a future in corporate computing, according to a survey by internet.com Corp. (the publisher of this site).

The study, “Linux: You Get What You Pay For?,” found that most popular use for Linux is as the operating system behind a Web server, where two-thirds of the respondents report using Linux. Roughly half report using Linux as an Internet access server or a network/file server. One-third of the respondents use Linux for general desktop usage.

The desktop market presents several difficult barriers to entry for Linux. Personal and corporate desktops are the heart of Microsoft’s consumer applications, and without Windows and the Microsoft Office suite of products, many computer users would be lost. Linux is also more difficult to install and use when compared to consumer-friendly products.

According to the survey, nearly 80 percent of current Linux users value the operating system for its superior, more stable performance. But among non-Linux users, ease of use, ease of upgrades, vendor support, and good documentation are important criteria when selecting an operating system. Even Linux users report using Linux in operating environments such as GNOME and KDE, thus adding Windows-type usability to the Linux system.

Other barriers to widespread adoption of Linux include a general lack of software that can run on the platform, especially enterprise applications and e-commerce applications; lack of a strong robust file system; and few administration tools and backup support.

In addition to the 39 percent of respondents currently using Linux, the survey found 31 percent are exploring Linux use. And while only 8.4 percent of the respondents are using Linux on embedded applications, the survey found that the stability of Linux, its low cost, and its ease of connectivity may help Linux develop a foothold in the market for embedded applications, such as Internet devices and consumer electronics.

Internet.com’s survey also examined Linux vendors, and found that Red Hat is the most well known — familiar to 79 percent of the respondents and recognized as a major player in the Linux market by 55 percent of the respondents. Even among non-Linux users, two-thirds have heard of Red Hat. The bad news for Linux vendors is that 35 percent of the respondents said they didn’t know who the major players in the Linux market were.

The survey was conducted among members of internet.com’s Technology Advisory Panel, which was recruited from the audience of internet.com’s audience.

How Linux is Used
Web server 67%
Internet access 51%
Network/file server 50%
Mail server 44%
Software design/development 38%
General desktop 33%
E-Commerce 26%
Print server 19%
Other 12%
Source: internet.com

Related reading