Open source consortium targets the desktop, again

Linux Penguin

The battle for a share of the client operating system (OS) and software market heated up today, as a consortium of Linux vendors has unveiled plans for a fresh assault on Microsoft's dominance of both.

IBM, Novell, Red Hat and Ubuntu OS commercial sponsor Canonical will work with local distribution partners around the world to build and distribute a pre-loaded, Linux-based PC with Lotus and other open source applications pre-installed by 2009.

The PC will feature IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS), which includes Lotus Notes, Symphony and Sametime; the Linux OS of each distributor, software applications and local installation services.

The final products will be branded by the local IT firms that bring them to market. IBM said customers, ISVs and systems integrators (SIs) will have the option of developing applications using its managed service oriented architecture (SOA) client Lotus Expeditor, based on the open source Eclipse programming model.

The comments of Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president for IBM Lotus Software made it clear where the interests of the partnership lay.

"The slow adoption of Vista among businesses and budget-conscious CIOs [chief information officers], coupled with the proven success of a new type of Microsoft-free PC in every region, provides an extraordinary window of opportunity for Linux," Cavanaugh said. "We'll work to unlock the desktop to save our customers money and give freedom of choice."

The move also plays on the comparative cost effectiveness of Linux to PC vendors, aiming squarely at the ability of the open source OS to work with more modest hardware than Microsoft's new OS requires.

Laurent Lachal, Ovum senior analyst told IT PRO he welcomed the involvement of Canonical, even though he said it was leading Linux adoption with Ubuntu in a more consumer-focused space. He said Ubuntu would complement the enterprise class offerings of Novell and Red Hat.

But he added: "It is good that they are putting the applications forward as a differentiator as opposed to Linux itself. And, depending on the channel partner coverage that IBM should have, it should prove attractive to emerging markets in particular."

IBM said demand for the offering pre-launch had been particularly string in Russia, where organisations such as Russia Post (Russian postal service) and Rushotel have piloted and phased in the new desktops, saving 30-35 per cent on the cost of the Microsoft equivalent.

Lachal added one caveat: "The lack of enterprise Vista adoption provides an opportunity, but one is only small, because most enterprises are just waiting for the version to become stable."

IBM also announced at Linuxworld, taking place in San Francisco today, new software appliance initiatives designed to accelerate small and medium business (SMB) adoption of Linux and the deployment of Domino applications on Lotus Foundations.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.