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2004 will be tops for Tux in the enterprise

Red Hat remains a safe bet for enterprises, SCO keeps suing and interest grows in desktop Linux. These are some of the predictions offered by the editorial team.

The clairvoyant editors set a Tux crystal ball on a Williams & Sonoma black velvet tablecloth delicately draped over a faux teak Pottery Barn table and pull up our Z Gallery chairs. We gaze -- not stare, all the gypsies know that staring is only for newbies -- into the ball and symbolic images of Tux in 2004 appear. We put our Kinesis keyboard-hardened fingertips to our Clinique-cleansed brows and interpret the future of Linux thusly.

  1. In 2004, Linux the unbranded maverick will fade away faster than an old soldier, faster than our college dorm orange-and-milk-crate furniture. Sure, some IT shops -- angered by Red Hat's enterprise strategy -- will move to Debian. Overall, however, businesses embrace the old standard of a "safe" and "supported" brand name operating system. Is it Balkanization? Will Red Hat and SuSE become proprietary look-alikes? The crystal ball says "Yes!" But, we predict that these two distros will keep a (slightly compromised) open source model.
  2. The Linux takeover of the data center will gain momentum, thanks to Novell's acquisition of SuSE. For Linux, 2003 was the year of database migrations. In 2004, businesses will be moving their networking infrastructure to Linux on Novell. The result will be an all-Linux back office in many enterprises.
  3. SCO Group will drag its IP suits on for another year, launching new attacks on the GNU Public License, Linux distros, users and vendors.(Watch out HP!) The lawsuits will further undermine SCO's core business -- that's selling software, remember? -- but will attract investors?
  4. SCO may actually produce a living, breathing enterprise that has purchased a Unix license in order to stay out of court.
  5. IBM will continue to refuse to indemnify its customers on the grounds that indemnification validates SCO's claims.
  6. Novell becomes the next target of SCO's legal safari under the auspices of its non-compete claims. Why not? After all, the non-compete issue is as specious as the rest of its claims, the community says.
  7. Sun Microsystems offers Linux customers indemnification, Dell and IBM snicker.
  8. Red Hat will speed up its release of a 2.6 version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but not in time to spur a big uptake in kernel adoption. In fact, Novell may beat Red Hat to it and send out a 2.6 version of SuSE Enterprise Server.
  9. IBM will buy Red Hat. It's only a matter of time before a major operating system vendor -- and only IBM and HP fit that bill -- buys Red Hat. Oracle could do it, but operating systems haven't been its cup of tea. Our money's on IBM. But the Big Blue buy could be delayed by the big bad SCO lawsuit.
  10. Prompted by a desire to break free of the costs and instability of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, dozens of large organizations will begin evaluating and testing desktop Linux. About a dozen will make the move in 2004, and IT shops around the world will be watching. If the Linux desktop serves them well, then 2005 will be a bad year for MS in the front office.
  11. Linux will continue to make inroads into the home user market as the OS for low-end PCs and embedded devices. But people won't even realize they're using Linux; they'll continue to believe that Bill Gates invented computers and Al Gore invented the Internet.
  12. SCO CEO Darl McBride will sue Dan Brown, author of the bestseller "The Da Vinci Code," arguing that SCO invented the Da Vinci Code. A followup suit will charge Brown with plagiarism. To support that claim, McBride will show the press an outline of the book's plot that he wrote on a Denny's placemat.
  13. McBride will sue Denny's for stealing his placemat designs.

FEEDBACK: What do you think will be the biggest story of 2004 for Linux in the enterprise?
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