Internet, Embedded Devices Welcoming Linux

Linux, the little operating system that could, is finding a comfortable niche among Internet and embedded devices, according to a survey by Evans Data Corporation.

The Evans survey of 500 developers of so-called embedded products and applications in June 2001 and found a three-fold increase in Linux-based projects compared to previous studies. Specifically, 45 percent now say they expect to release a Linux application in the next year and 14 percent said they have already done so. The vast majority — about 80 percent — said that Linux was important to the embedded system community.

When asked why they chose Linux, the respondents cited the royalty-free license and the large developer community as Linux’ key benefits. On the downside, they cited as problems a lack of support for specific boards, lack of availability for specific drivers and fragmentation of the code base.

“Embedded Linux has captured the attention of the development community,” said Tom Williams, an Evans Data analyst.

The survey, “Linux: You Get What You Pay For?“, by CyberAtlas Research, found that only 8.4 percent of its respondents were using Linux on embedded applications. But because of its stability, its low cost and its ease of connectivity, the report predicted that Linux could develop a foothold in the market for embedded applications, such as Internet devices and consumer electronics.

Research conducted by Idaya, sponsors of the freeVSD project, has revealed that the Linux market as a whole is expected to grow more than 150 percent during 2001. It predicts Linux will become the most dominant global Web server platform by mid-2002, and the most dominant underlying technology for Web hosting services by 2003.

The Idaya/FreeVSD research was conducted between January and March 2001 among the global top 1,000 Internet Service Providers — precisely the companies that have made the greatest investment in GPL technology and applications. Respondents were a mixture of business managers, technical heads and service managers.

Among the improvements the respondents would like to see made to the Linux system are improved software ability (66 percent), journalling file systems functionality (53 percent), ease of installation (48 percent) and improved GUIs would accelerate this growth rate. Market distrust and support availability are seen as the main potential obstacles to Linux market growth.

“The pace of Linux growth continues unabated, fuelled by the obvious economies open source software delivers into the community most reliant on Linux — namely the ISP community,” said Austin Delaney, founder of the freeVSD project. “The improved ability of the ISP to bring down the cost of Web services, yet be able to rely on robust and proven GPL applications, is putting Web-enablement within the grasp of a far wider global business community — and this all without undermining the ISP’s earnings potential.”

Delaney also said that companies such as IBM, Oracle and putting billions of dollars into Linux development is critically important as it presages the penetration of Linux into corporate back-office processes, immediately opening a far wider market for support services.

internet.com’s AllNetDevices contributed to this report.

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