Oracle's announcement last week that it will port versions of its database and applications to the Linux platform could give the open-source Unix operating system another nudge toward enterprise acceptability.
Although acknowledging that Linux is a dependable operating system, many analysts and users have said the lack of formal technical support has kept most large organisations from considering Linux as an alternative operating system for mission-critical applications.
"There are IS managers who won't even consider Linux because it is not backed by a known name," wrote analyst Bill Peterson in an International Data Corp (IDC) report.
Although Oracle won't provide technical support for Linux, it will work with Linux vendors - including Red Hat Software, SuSE, VA Research and Tokyo-based Pacific HiTech - on marketing and technology issues.
Arvind Jain, a product manager at Oracle, agreed it would take time to change public perception about Linux but said that "by offering our database and our applications [on Linux], we will promote further adoption of it as a viable platform".
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said it is possible that Linux will become the standard Unix for PC-based systems.
Paul McNamera, vice president of strategic relationships at Red Hat Software, said that sort of Linux endorsement from a large applications vendor is critical to corporate decision makers.
"They're looking for signals that indicate that this really is a prime-time operating system," he said.