Personal Computing: Linux May Give Windows Some Competition

March 1999
by Reid Goldsborough

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Looking around a typical office, all you see is Windows. More than nine of ten personal computers run one or another of Microsoft’s operating systems. It didn’t use to be this way. A decade ago, there was vigorous competition in the desktop operating system market. IBM hadn’t yet conceded to Microsoft and stopped marketing OS/2 to end users. The Macintosh operating system, though only able to run on Macintosh computers, showed potential to break out of its design and education niches. Today it’s a Windows world. But for how long? The courts still haven’t weighed in fully on the US Justice Department’s landmark antitrust case against Microsoft. But even if Microsoft is able to continue unfettered, the market may yet provide some competition.

What about Linux? The one operating system that in the minds of many shows the greatest promise of loosening Microsoft’s stranglehold seems on the surface to be the least able competitor. Created in 1991 by a college student in Finland named Linus Torvalds, Linux (pronounced LIH-nux by most people) is a Unix-like product that doesn’t cost a dime. As “freeware,” it’s shared for free over the Internet, with programmers from around the world donating their time to improve the product and find and fix bugs. Enhanced versions that include technical support are sold by companies such as Red Hat Software (http://www.redhat.com) and Caldera (http://www.calderasystemsIBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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