The interest of big vendors in Linux can help smaller Linux players, said Nat Friedman, the president and CEO of GNOME-proponent Ximian (formerly known as Helix Code). "IBM's commitment is an indication of a trend toward Linux," he said, adding that Linux server sellers are making strides at proving an acceptable total-cost-of-ownership quotient for Linux.
On the server, Linux is very mature, Friedman noted: "There are sales forces, there is market penetration. That is a business that is real."
And while the general-user desktop is now no-man's land to Linux, the OS is making incursions on the client side, albeit on the high end. "Right now Linux on the desktop is siphoning workstation users from Solaris and HP-UX," Friedman claimed.
Successes here may help non-server Linux software makers bide time until more applications become available for the platform.
Right now, the industry "is not ready for broad-based adoption against Microsoft," admits Ximian's Friedman. While many industry observers would say such adoption is many years away at best, Friedman and others can make a case that, perhaps on wireless appliances, adoption may be sooner than that.