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Companies race to support Linux applications

July 5, 1999
Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT)

by Jack McCarthy


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(IDG) -- Responding to concerns by IT managers that they will not get adequate support if they use open-source software, a diverse array of companies are coming forward eager to help.

Some IT managers attending the Open Source Forum here Thursday said they are wary of using open-source software in their companies because they may not get the same kind of handholding and support they are used to from vendors that charge for their software but provide help in installation and upkeep.

However, representatives from giants such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM, as well as boutique shops such as Linuxcare, assured the managers that there is little to fear from using open-source software such as the Linux operating system or Apache Web server.

"At Hewlett-Packard, we have long-time customers on old systems," Mike Tognoli, HP's Linux marketing manager, said Thursday at the conference. "We recognize that the level of support for Linux has to be ongoing, and we are committed to that." HP offers a variety of server-based applications that run on Linux, such as e-mail.

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Similarly, IBM is prepared to fully support its servers, such as Apache Web and applications servers, and databases that run on Linux, including the DB2, said Daniel Frye, director of IBM's open-source Linux software group.

While HP and IBM are promising to support their Linux-compatible offerings, other companies are making support a key piece of their products. Linux distribution companies including Red Hat Software, SuSE, and Caldera, package, install, and support Linux. Meanwhile, others, like Linuxcare, avoid distribution and concentrate solely on providing service and support to Linux users.

With pledges of prompt service for open-source software ringing in their ears, some IT managers at the conference said they were considering using Linux or Apache.

"I'd like to try supporting some minor Linux project," said Roger Davis, a product manager at Veritas Software, a storage management software company in Mountain View, Calif. "But I'm not going to put my company's main relationships on the line."

Similarly, an IT manager for a nationwide insurance company said he will consider introducing Linux server software into his operations. "From what I've heard, I'm willing to try it in a small project," said the manager, who asked that he and his firm not be identified.

Another IT manager who has already experimented with the Apache Web server said he will review Linux applications as well.

"My system administrators know [Linux] and are like ... fanatics in support of it," said Dexter Ribble, engineering manager at Qualcomm Personal Electronics, in San Diego. "[Linux] seems to be the real thing now. It looks like it's got the support."

Jack McCarthy is a San Francisco correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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