Dell is Linux's Greatest Ally, CEO Says

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Computer Corp., kicked off LinuxWorld in San Jose Wednesday with a keynote address that reaffirmed his company as a leader in promoting Linux in the enterprise.

"We see Linux as a significant growth opportunity for Dell over the next several years," Dell told LinuxWorld attendees, adding that "Linux and Dell together are a powerful combination" for companies to partner with when building their corporate IT infrastructures.

Quoting projections from International Data Corp. (IDC), a market research firm in Framingham, Mass., Dell said the Linux market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 30 percent over the next four years. According to Dell, IDC also predicts that Linux server shipments went from 4 percent of the market in the first quarter of 1999 to 10 percent of the market in the first quarter of 2000.

"The open source collaborative software development model is built to succeed in the Internet age," Dell said, as opposed to the proprietary software models pushed by competitive server vendors, such as IBM or Sun. "We don't believe that Solaris on the X86 makes sense" for enterprises, Dell said, adding that Intel and Linux are inexpensive, stable alternatives for mission-critical enterprise computing.

Besides roiling his competitors, Dell explained that his company's clout in the Intel-based hardware market will be valuable for Linux's future.

"In Dell, Linux has an ally that has a fair amount of power," he said. "We sell more PC hardware than any other company in the world. This means that we can push vendors to give us the device drivers to support our customers."

Dell says his company is also promoting Linux by bringing the operating system to a wide audience by putting it on all its products from servers to laptops. Dell added that the company is currently working with Linux desktop developer Eazel to put its desktop environment on Dell Linux PCs.

Dell outlined how the computer maker is using its capital pool to invest in developing Linux and open source companies, as well as invest in optimizing the operating system for its hardware.

"Right now, Dell is spending more research and development dollars on Linux than on any other operating system we sell," he said.

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