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Preview: LinuxWorld to highlight desktop Linux, security

About 11,000 attendees are expected for the four-day show

By Todd R. Weiss and Linda Rosencrance
August 2, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Just three years ago, few IT people were thinking about the use of Linux on the desktop at their companies.
But today, as Linux has moved into more corporate IT plans and systems, desktop Linux and the widespread use of the operating system isn't as far-fetched.
As the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo kicks off in San Francisco today, new ideas about desktop Linux use will be one focus of the event, as advocates showcase recent Linux deployment wins over Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system in the city of Munich and elsewhere. "There's a lot of examples where it's becoming more widespread," said Warwick Davies, a group vice president of IDG World Expo, which hosts the annual show.
Dan Kusnetsky, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, who has just co-authored a report on the subject, sees several ways Linux can make inroads into the desktop market.
Consumers interested in moving away from the Windows operating system could come to see Linux as a viable alternative -- if it can support their need for Internet access, e-mail and access to Web-based applications, he said. And it could gain popularity among users hoping for a more secure alternative to Windows, he said.
Developers of platform-neutral software such as Java-based applications and Web services might also come to favor Linux over Windows -- if it allows them to create those applications using appropriate tools and if the price is right, he said.
Kusnetsky also noted that the needs of many workers could be met with any operating system that provides common applications such as a Web browser, a Java virtual machine and reliable e-mail agent. So organizations could supply those workers with a system running Linux as the underlying client operating environment for either client/server applications or Web-centric applications, he said.
Despite those possibilities, knowledge workers are likely to remain tied to Windows-centric packaged applications, personal productivity software and development tools, and will be the last to move to Linux, according to Kusnetsky.
IDC predicts that Linux will grow from a 2.7% market share, with 3.4 million paid license shipments in 2002, to a 6% share with more than 10 million shipments in 2007, he said.
"The whole industry is starting to wake up to the possibility of Linux on the desktop," said Jonathan Eunice, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, N.H.

"Folks like Sun and HP are enthusiastic about it. But even companies like IBM that have historically said it's a server phenomenon have seen the genuine interest not only in Asia but in large European and U.S. companies and are starting

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