The Year of the Penguin

The biggest threat to Microsoft these days may not be the U.S. Department of Justice, nor does it appear to be the Netscape browser. A much larger danger to Bill Gates’ Windows-based empire is a new operating system, available free of charge over the Internet. The new operating system, known as Linux, was developed by Linus Torvalds and a veritable army of programmers and hackers around the world.

For nearly a year now, Linux has been rising meteorically as a viable alternative to Microsoft NT, and lately, industry giants like Intel and Dell have thrown their weight behind it. With a new upgrade of its core software, known as version 2.2.2, the Linux operating system is more suited than ever as a basis for Internet servers. In addition, Linux is also now emerging as a platform of choice for e-commerce operations.

As is the case with all successful new Internet technologies, we can expect to see a slew of cutting-edge contenders lining up to fill the emerging demand for Linux-based, e-commerce enabled systems. So far, Red Hat and BSU have taken center stage with their enhanced versions of the Linux OS, although a myriad of new Value Added Resellers (VARs) are poised to share the Linux spotlight.

One of the new Linux industry forces, is the Penguin Computing company, a retailer of Linux-only systems, which reported on Tuesday that its 4th quarter 1998 sales of Linux-based e-commerce solutions to Internet companies increased 400 percent over 3rd quarter sales. And, the company expects its 1st quarter 1999 revenues to be even more impressive.

In less than a year, the company reported that it has attracted the attention of such high-profile customers as Amazon.com, Excite, Viacom, Paramount, Salon magazine, and Slashdot, who all use Penguin Computing Linux Systems for building their Web and database infrastructure.

Penguin Computing attributes its growing success to its strict focus on Linux-based systems, as opposed to most of its competitors, who only sell Linux as a sideline.

Supporting Linux

Critics who are reluctant to join the jump on the Linux bandwagon often point to one inherent problem of the free operating system, i.e., a lack of centralized technical support. To this end, however, new Linux vendors like Penguin Computing and Dell are now responding by emphasizing their own technical support programs.

Dell announced this week that it will offer support for Linux-based servers, a move that will likely position Dell as a top-selling Linux vendor.

Penguin Computing also offers a 24 hour, 7 day-a-week technical support center and on-site technical support staffed by Linux programmers, engineers and systems designers.

According to Allison Huynh, vice president of Penguin Computing, “The addition of 24 x 7 and onsite tech support to our portfolio is intended to strengthen our existing product and service offerings to provide Web infrastructure for our customers.”

The Moral of the Story

With factors like low pricing, system stability, industry backing, and 24×7 technical support weighing in Linux’s favor, the NT-centric tide may be turning. Bill Gates Meet Linus Torvalds!

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