Dell knocks Microsoft and Sun, touts Linux

Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell delivered a keynote address at LinuxWorld in San Jose this week, extolling the virtues of open source phenomenon Linux while taking calculated swipes at Sun Microsystems and Microsoft Corporation. Dell, who later qualified his remarks--his company is a key partner with Microsoft, after all--didn't pull any punches during his live performance, however. He pointed out the growth of Linux in the server market, but also expressed interest in the possibility of Linux gaining ground on the desktop, a market where the open source OS has thus far found little success. Dell says that gains by companies such as Eazel will make Linux easier to use in the days ahead.

"We see Linux as a significant growth opportunity for Dell," he said. "In fact, it's already well on the way. As all of you are probably aware, the Linux market has grown over 250 percent year-over-year, and Linux has grown from about 4 percent of all servers sold in the first quarter of 1999 to almost 10 percent in the first quarter of this year. Dell is very committed to Linux."

"The open-source collaborative development model, I believe, is built to succeed in the Internet age," Dell continued. "And it makes far much more economic sense than the proprietary model that's offered by most of our competitors," he added, an obvious jab at Sun and Microsoft. "As the size of the community grows, the incentive grows to develop for Linux. Unix is consolidated around Solaris and Linux, and we don't think Solaris is the answer, we think Linux is the answer ... We don't believe Solaris on the x86 environment makes a lot of sense."

Dell prepared his keynote presentation using the Eazel desktop for Linux, which features the Nautilus file manager. And Dell Computer was showing off systems running the new software in its booth at the show. "We're quite interested in how \[the Eazel software\] or the desktop opportunity might emerge," he said. "At this point it's only a matter of when the technology will be ready to deliver to customers." Eazel says that it will complete the initial version of its software by the end of the year

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