March 23, 2001, 11:28 AM —
Nearly every month, there are more reports of federal, state, and local governments in the United States running Linux on new applications. Based on the anecdotal evidence, Linux is everywhere.
But the few surveys that have been done about Linux in government tell a somewhat different story. Apparently, the success of Linux in government is rather relative. According to IDC, over 25 percent of the federal computing installations it surveyed in 1998 used Linux somewhere in the organization. That was nearly twice the overall Linux use of computing departments nationwide: 16.6 percent of large companies and 12.2 percent of medium-size companies said they used Linux in some capacity. That difference is significant, but not as good as the news stories seem to suggest.
The findings of Government Computer News -- a trade publication that covers federal, state, and local governments -- are even less encouraging. In its most recent survey of LAN administrators in the federal government, the publication found that Linux use increased by about 10 percent in 1999. That was three times the growth of Unix use, but Linux started from a much smaller base. The survey also found that the dominant operating system was Windows NT Server; about two-thirds of LAN administrators used it.