Linux and Enterprise: A Winning Combination
Last year, Linux's star began to rise with many companies announcing Linux support for their products. In particular, the “Big Three” of database companies, Informix, Oracle and Sybase, announced ports of their products to Linux. As a result of these announcements, it is clear that Linux is ready to enter the world of enterprise computing in a major way. In the past, large databases were one of the key missing ingredients.
The call for “applications, applications and more applications” is being answered. Witness the fact that Corel announced that all of their products will be ported to Linux. Many of the applications coming out for Linux are freely available and even Open Source. Need a spreadsheet? Take a look at xxl from the University of Nice. How about a word processor? Maxwell is an up-and-coming free software solution still in development and of course Word Perfect 8 is available from Corel. Even free accounting software is being developed in Germany under the name Linux-Kontor.
The other missing ingredient often mentioned is a user-friendly desktop—Linux now has that, too. KDE is currently ready for use, and GNOME is not far behind. Both provide that “ol' black magic” for the desktop.
All the major distributions are working on making installation and configuration easier. Red Hat and Caldera have had the easiest installation in the past with the RPM package, but S.u.S.E. and Debian have also made their installations easier.
I've spent a lot of time talking to people about why they chose to port their products to Linux and the answers given were no surprise. The top three reasons are:
Stability: robustness is always the most desired attribute of any operating system.
Cost effectiveness: in particular, the fact that the cost of an operating system does not have to be passed on to customers.
Support: does this one surprise you? It shouldn't. With a network of programmers worldwide willing to work on problems as soon as they are found and announced, Linux support bypasses all the red tape that comes packaged with commercial products.
Linux has long been number one as far as ISPs and Internet servers are concerned. A survey by Netcraft in January 1998 showed that over 50% of all web servers used Apache. The Internet Operating System Counter at http://www.hzo.cubenet.de/ioscount/ has polled 810,000 European Internet servers in three different categories: web servers, FTP servers and news servers. According to these polls, Linux is the most-used operating system on the Internet. Linux was number one in each category with a market share of 26.9% for web servers, 33.7% for FTP servers and 25.7% for news servers.
With numbers like these and an estimated seven million users, Linux can no longer be considered “for hackers only”. Therefore, Linux Journal has decided to publish three enterprise solution supplements this year, of which this is the first. In each supplement, we will bring you reviews of new business applications, articles about how Linux is being used to solve particular business problems and interviews with business people who are choosing Linux. Write and let us know what you would like to see in upcoming supplements.