Should you nix Unix?

September 1, 2003

In an interview published on 1 September, 2003, David Chow, the Chairman of Hong Kong Linux Industry Association expressed his view as following.

Linux is not only picking up. It is growing fast. Many companies, especially those with the new IT initiatives, have chosen Linux.

He noted Linux is a popular choice for many new IT initiatives, particularly in the manufacturing industry, a pillar of the local economy. Manufacturing is also the sector that has suffered the least from SARS and economic downturn, in comparison to the service and hospitality industries.

Although most manufacturers have small offices in Hong Kong, their scale and size is significant in Mainland China. Chow said among all the Hong Kong-owned manufacturers in China, only three percent of them have an IT system, the remaining 97 percent being a huge untapped market.

"Manufacturers are very concerned about the management cost," he said. When looking at management costs, users have to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of any technology.

Chow argued TCO should include the consideration of downtime. With a higher reliability in Linux, downtime is minimal. In addition, Chow said Linux users can enjoy free enterprise-class management tools, whereas Windows users will have to pay extra for these applications. "That's the reason why Linux is more appealing to manufacturers."

The recent litigation from SCO Group Inc, has also created attention in the market. The company claimed that the Linux source code violates its intellectual property rights and has offered its Linux license, at a price of US$699 (HK$5,452) per processor for server users, as a way of bringing Linux users into compliance.

Most local Linux users are not aware of the situation or concerned about paying that license fee, said Chow. He explained the culture of open source is so well established that users are not worried. He noted that Linux is mainly used among the 2-way servers or servers that run single applications.

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