IBM Boosts Linux Desktop Efforts


Up till now, most of the company's existing Linux effort has been in tools, middleware, and servers. The Workplace lineup relies on server-asserted provisioning and management of desktop applications.

IBM is making the move due to "high double-digit growth" last year in the number of customers deploying WebSphere Portal, Domino and IBM Workplace collaboration software on Linux, the company said in a statement.

Three years ago IBM said it was investing a billion dollars in Linux software efforts and has since offered up some of its own technology, including the Cloudscape database to various open-source efforts. It is also a driving force behind the Eclipse open-source tool effort. Lotus announced Domino support for Linux in 1999

On the desktop, two years ago IBM Software's Lotus group said its Domino Web Access client was accessible via the Mozilla browser.

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Solution providers say that Linux has gained credibility on backend servers, but demand for Linux desktops lags. Still, many ISVs are weighing ports of their desktop products to Linux and if demand warrants it, they'll make the move a trend that Microsoft is watching warily.

For Avistar, an ISV that integrates video into applications, this is an important statement of IBM's direction although Avistar's software so far runs on Windows.

"Our customer base hasn't been a strong demander of Linux per se, but they're also starting to run more and more Linux on servers and backend systems so strategically it's important to be more platform independent," said John Carlson, vice president of marketing for the Redwood Shores, Calif. company.