What about low-end Linux?

Dana Blankenhorn writes about the impact of the recent Linux developments.

Linux is no longer a FREE operating system. But those enterprises who want to buy Linux, so they have a vendor they can beat on, now have two good choices in Novell and RedHat.

The vital point from here is that the GPL and licensed Linuxes must remain compatible. If Novell or RedHat decide to tweak their software, making it incompatible with the GPL for any reason, the advantages Linux has over Windows disappears in a puff of smoke, and we’re back to the status quo of 10 years ago.

If the various Linux movements can work with application developers (and now Novell and RedHat will have the heft to do that) life will get very interesting on the high end. Whether you’re running IBM, H-P, Sun or Dell hardware, you will be able to build an enterprise system, based on licensed software, that competes well with what comes from Microsoft.

Meanwhile, those using GPL need to keep pushing the envelope, creating new capabilities on new devices — especially devices costing under $500 — which will extend Linux’ lead. When cheap devices support an operating system and have the capabilities of running all applications built for it, while keeping their low price, that’s when Microsoft gets into trouble. Especially given the fact that China is pushing as hard as it can toward the GPL.

Is there an opportunity a free/low-cost Linux distribution for SMEs? News.com has more: “For the business world, the deals seemingly confirmed the corporate role for the communal operating system. However, many Linux enthusiasts worry that the Linux community may have lost its two most popular distributions–Red Hat Linux and SuSE Linux–in a corporate equivalent of a one-two punch…The moves could return consumers to a choice of Linux distributions from smaller companies–such as Mandrake, Xandros or Lindows–or from community projects such as Debian, Fedora, Gentoo and Slackware.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.