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Linux Goes Global

Serious Linux deployments are popping up all over, from German insurers to Chinese banks.

By Mitch Betts
July 18, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Although the fact that Linux is an international phenomenon isn't too surprising, since the kernel was invented by Finnish student Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki. But what began as a modest programming effort -- just a hobby, Torvalds once said -- has grown beyond the stage of a few maverick users thumbing their noses at Microsoft. In Asia, for example, shipments of Linux server licenses grew by 36% in 2004, while shipments of client licenses rose 49%, IDC says.

So, for this special report, we fanned out beyond U.S. shores to find out who's using Linux and why. Some of the deployments are quite substantial: The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China plans to use Linux for all front-end banking operations, Banca Popolare di Milano in Italy is rolling out 4,500 Linux desktops, and LVM Insurance in Germany has Linux on 7,700 desktops and 30 servers, for example.

The reasons for Linux deployments vary, but increasingly they're based less on zealotry and more on practicalities. "It was not that we just wanted to do open-source. We had to find a way to protect our investment in network computing," says an IT manager at LVM Insurance. Another IT executive in Europe says he made the switch to save money on hardware: "Linux in and of itself as an operating system was not the driver. The fact is, Linux enabled us to use a commodity platform."

So join us on a tour of Linux activity around the world. It's much more than a hobby.

Mitch Betts is executive editor at
Computerworld. Contact him at mitch_betts@computerworld.com.

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