IBM-SCO Legal Scuffle No Deterrent To Linux

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The IBM-SCO Group legal battle surrounding Linux is not slowing solution provider support of the open-source operating system.

That was the message from Linux creator Linus Torvalds, industry executives and solution providers at Computer Associates International's CA World show in Las Vegas last week.

Characterizing the legal controversy as a contract dispute, Torvalds in an interview with CRN said, "The biggest effect by far has just been a lot of time wasted on discussion."

SCO CEO Darl McBride has charged that IBM took lines of code from SCO's version of Unix and donated them to the open-source Linux kernel. SCO has maintained it will enforce its intellectual property rights.

Lesley Taufer, president of Boulder Corp., a Boulder, Colo., solution provider who attended CA World, said Linux sales momentum is growing.

One year ago, only one or two of Boulder's engineers were working with Linux, she said, but now a good portion of the company's 22 engineers are learning the opensource operating system. "They think that is where the future is going," Taufer said.

About 10 percent to 15 percent of Taufer's clients want to discontinue using Microsoft Windows, she said. "Three years ago you wouldn't do anything but Microsoft. You'd get your nose bloodied to talk about anything else," Taufer said. "Now it's fashionable to be anti-Microsoft."

At the same time, Taufer noted, Windows Server 2003 upgrades are on the rise.

David Hall, senior vice president and CTO of Dallas-based CompuCom Systems, said Linux interest is growing in specific pockets among the integrator's clients.

"Linux adoption is happening in areas where the IT organization doesn't have to support it," he said, adding there is a need for better standards.

Even as the legal battle rages on, the open-source community is pressing forward with significant improvements to the Linux kernel. The 2.6 edition is reaching production phase, and technical priorities for Linux kernel 2.7 will be the topic of discussion this week at an invitation-only summit in Ottawa, Torvalds said. One firm topic of discussion will be the cluster file system, he said.

Juergen Geck, CTO of SuSE Linux,which recently partnered with IBM to win a $35.7 million contract to upgrade 14,000 desktops for the city of Munich, Germany,said he sees solution provider support for Linux growing "exponentially."

SuSE relaunched its channel program earlier this year and has about 800 solution provider partners, Geck said.

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