HP's Linux Crush

Don't let that cute little Linux penguin's sort of vacuous gaze fool you -- it might be poised to become a monster. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) said today that it will work with Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL  ) to support Linux on its computers for business users worldwide. While this is not exactly a move onto your desktop anytime soon, it's a sign that Linux is indeed gaining ground in the corporate market.

Just last week, No. 1 computer maker HP announced plans to launch PCs in Asia that utilize Linux on their desktops. That's a huge market indeed. Further, governments in several Asian countries, such as China and Japan, are developing operating systems modeled after Linux. The popularity of Linux in that part of the world has been attributed both to lower costs as well as security concerns.

So, while the open-source operating system Linux remains an underdog, considering the massive hold of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , there are signs that it's making headway despite its sluggish start.

As one among several cases in point, Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT  ) reported a substantial bump in subscriptions (watch for separate Foolish coverage later today). SCO Group (Nasdaq: SCOX  ) has launched lawsuits against the Linux industry, attempting to defend its Unix turf. IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) backs Linux for servers with hints of interest in bringing it to the desktop. And more and more frequently, on the consumer side, even non-technically inclined people wonder about other alternatives such as Linux and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , considering the worms and viruses that tend to target the Windows operating system.

Investors yawned off the news today, and that's understandable. While this is an interesting issue and a sign of gaining traction, there is still conjecture as to the ultimate success of Linux. However, news like this shows that HP is willing to look toward the future and make bets on where future growth could be. Considering some of the variables at hand, there seems to be good reason to give Linux some love -- and some thought.

Are you a proud early adopter of Linux? The Fool has just the place to make you feel at home -- the Linux User's Group discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned.


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