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Editor's Note: Walking with the Giants

Compaq, IBM Lead in Sales of Linux Servers--Surprise!

  • April 13, 2000
  • By Kevin Reichard

When I read the recent market report from International Data Corp. (IDC) about Linux marketshares and sales figures, I felt the same way I did when I sent my son off to kindergarten: a sense of pride accompanied with a slight knotting in my throat.

OK, so I wasn't on the verge of tears, but I was rather proud that our little Linux operating system had turned into an adolescent overnight. Instead of being a marginalized OS championed only by a few fringe wackos, it's clear that Linux is now a major player in the vast computing world--and it's also clear that Linux has a bright future, because Open Source is now a very viable model in the corporate toolkit.

There were 72,422 Linux servers shipped in 1999, a 166-percent improvement over 1998. While it may seem like 72,422 isn't a whole lot of servers, it does represent 6 percent of the server market, and it's clear from vendors that the 6 perecent could easily double again in 2000 if trends remain constant.

The surprise came in the top five Linux vendors tallied by IDC. Compaq sold 25 percent of these Linux servers: 18,000, generating sales of $84 million. IBM wes second with 7,001 units, generating $33 million revenue, while Hewlett Packard shipped 5,429 units and made $23 million. Dell (shipping 5,158 units and making $24 million) and Fujitsu Siemens (shipping 2,286 units and generating $13 million in sales, grabbing three percent of the Linux server sector) rounded out the top five.

So where are VA Linux and Penguin Computing? Not on the top-five list. This has caused a great deal of consternation in the Linux community. Hardcore Linux partisans have always argued--or loudly wished for, anyway--that Linux was such a new way of doing things "old" companies like Compaq and Dell would be wiped out in favor of "new" companies like VA Linux. However, Compaq (n�e DEC) was a supporter of Linux before VA Linux even arrived. Heck, DEC was supporting X Window through the MIT X Consortium before there was an Internet!

In conclusion: Linux is a major player in the computing world, and it's changing the ways that many corporations approach software. But it has not overturned the ranks of large computer corporations--and it probably never will.

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