IBM's Palmisano challenges his company to move to Linux desktop
But a company spokesman downplayed the idea
IDG News Service - IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano has challenged his company to move to the Linux desktop over the next two years, according to an internal memo written by IBM CIO Bob Greenberg in November and leaked to theInquirer.net, a U.K.-based Web site, this week.
"Our chairman has challenged the IT organization, and indeed all of IBM to move to a Linux based desktop by the end of 2005," Greenberg wrote. "This means replacing productivity, Web access and viewing tools with open standards based equivalents."
The company has formed a new Open Desktop project office to facilitate the move, which will involve contributions from Greenberg's office as well as from IBM's software and research groups, according to the memo.
The memo was written by Greenberg in November and circulated to select members of his team, an IBM spokeswoman said yesterday.
She downplayed the significance of the memo, noting that the company had no specific plans to move to the Linux desktop. "This [memo] was not a directive, but a challenge to an internal team," she said. "It is routine for IBM to challenge its internal IT team to rigorously test new platforms and technology inside IBM."
The open-source operating system Linux and the OpenOffice business application suite have had some high-profile successes over the past year. The city of Munich and the government of Israel have both announced plans to drop Microsoft Corp.'s products in favor of open-source alternatives.
But the open-source revolution has yet to catch on at the corporate desktop. Linux represents only 2.8% of the client operating system market, according to IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. Market research firm IDC doesn't expect that figure to change significantly over the next three years.
Kusnetzky said a switch to Linux could make sense for some parts of IBM but added that an effort to move the company's entire workforce of 316,000 employees seems unlikely. Developers working with other operating systems such as AIX or workers with software or procedures that have been tied into the Windows platform would have difficulty moving to Linux, he said.
But, Kusnetzky said, "my suspicion is that if IBM is like many computer suppliers, most people in finance, accounting, human resources and sales could be well served by a Linux desktop."
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