Linux is gaining mainstream acceptance in the developer community, with IBM, Adobe and SGI among the latest software companies to announce support for Linux.
IBM has launched a new program for Linux developers to help lower development costs and bolster the supply of new e-business applications for Linux serving the small business market.
Jack Verdins, IBM's marketing manager for transformation and integration of software, said Linux was just beginning to realise its potential.
`The market momentum behind Linux is the same as the momentum behind the Internet back in 1994 or 1995. Linux is doing for applications what the Internet did for connectivity,' Verdins said. `I first heard of Linux about two years ago from a friend at Melbourne University. It wasn't around much then, but it's really taking off now. IBM wants to accelerate the adoption of Linux.'
International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts the Linux operating environment will achieve a 25 per cent compound annual growth rate worldwide through to 2003.
IBM's developer program inc- ludes a free, not-for-resale application developer kit, and support and marketing incentives for developing e-business applications.
The kit includes IBM's DB2 Universal Database for Linux, WebSphere Application Server for Linux, Developer Kit for Linux (Java technology edition), VisualAge for Java for Linux, and Lotus Domino for Linux, which have all been ported to Linux within the last 18 months.
Verdins said Linux gives developers a greater degree of scope, because it is open source and available on a number of hardware systems.
`Developers love Linux. People are always searching for ways to make applications more portable. It takes major effort to port applications written for one platform across to another platform.'
Meanwhile, SGI has announced Linux support for the new SGI Internet Server, SGI Advanced Clustering Environment and global Linux services, and Adobe is developing Linux versions of Adobe Framemaker and Adobe Acrobat Distiller Server.
Adobe said the decision to port its software to Linux was a response to marketplace demand.
`Framemaker was originally dev-eloped on the Unix platform in 1986 and ported to Windows and Mac,' said Adobe's business development manger Gavin Douglas. `We ported it to Linux because of customer demand. Framemaker has quite an active user community and the newsgroups were full of requests for a Linux version.'
Based on the distiller component of Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat Distiller is a new product which converts any printable file into a PDF file. Adobe also ported its popular Adobe Acrobat to Linux last year, and a copy can be downloaded free from the Adobe Web site.
`It seems to be a growing trend for applications to be ported to Linux,' Douglas said. `I don't know of any other Adobe products which are due to be ported, but I would be very surprised if there weren't. Linux has really gained momentum in the last couple of years.'