Report: Linux Hysteria Will Fade In 2000

According to a new report by Forrester Research, Linux hysteria will give way to pragmatism in the new year.

Despite the fact that Linux-related companies such as VA Linux Systems and Red Hat have recently taken Wall Street by storm, Forrester says it sees no sign of CIOs abandoning existing platforms for Linux any time soon. However, the firm does predict that Linux will continue to grow by dominating new application segments.

Chinks In The Linux Armor

Additionally, Forrester predicts that moderate demand for Linux software will translate into “more rational valuations” for some new Linux stocks in 2000.

“Red Hat and Corel realize that reselling a freeware product is a tidy little business at best — not a recipe for growth,” the report points out. “While both are expanding into technical services and help desk support for Linux, the services game is a people-intensive endeavor that takes years to develop, and service firms like Compucom treat help desk as a loss leader.”

Some Will Thrive

Nonetheless, the report predicts that Linux firms with “defensible assets” such as Cobalt Networks and TurboLinux will continue to thrive in the upcoming year.

“Cobalt Networks has built person-years of engineering into its innovative appliance servers that run Linux,” the report notes. “TurboLinux is developing a proprietary clustering product that links Linux servers together to handle massive jobs.”

New Applications Will Fuel Linux Growth

Still, Forrester sees Linux thriving by piggybacking on new opportunities such as running e-commerce applications.

“Parallel clusters of Linux machines will go beyond Web serving to power customer experience engines at high-volume Web sites,” the report says.

Linux will also begin powering more consumer appliances such as TiVo’s personal video recorder, because the operating system is free and can be customized, Forrester notes.

“Expect Linux to appear in car stereos, home entertainment systems and consumer Internet appliances — hidden from view behind friendly interfaces,” the report adds.

Linux Will Become Indistinguishable From Unix

Finally, Forrester predicts that by 2004, Linux and proprietary Unix will have so much in common that many binaries will run on either platform.

“IBM, HP and Sun are grafting Linux interoperability features onto upcoming releases of AIX, HP-UX and Solaris — and engineers from SGI, HP and IBM are working on the Trillian project to solve Linux’s scalability problems,” the report concludes.

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