Linux hits a grand slam at home By Reuters October 11, 2001 11:01 AM PT LONDON--Linux, the open-source operating system invented by Finn Linus Torvalds, made its first big splash at home Thursday when it was embraced by Finland's leading broadband Internet provider, Sonera Entrum. Sonera, which provides high-speed Internet access for 500,000 private and 70,000 corporate subscribers, said it has replaced 60 different Unix and Windows NT servers from different companies with a single computer containing 500 virtual servers running Linux software installed by Red Hat and SuSE. Linux is free, open-source software, which means that all code is public and can be adapted by companies and individuals. Software engineer Torvalds invented Linux a decade ago, and other volunteers have developed it to rival Microsoft's Windows and different Unix platforms from Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer and Sun Microsystems. Linux has started to win over big corporate users in the past 18 months. Companies such as Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch/Shell, Venezuelan bank Banco Mercantile and Sweden's Telia have replaced many of their servers with machines running on Linux. The Sonera deal is similar in size to Telia's in the number of servers. The Telia contract, signed late last year, was then the largest commercial Linux adoption. Neither company gave any indication of the value of the deals. The new computer, produced by IBM, requires less energy, needs 75 percent less office space and allows Sonera to integrate all its services on one system and tweak the software if it wants to add new services. Sonera is expanding its basic Internet access by adding services such as Internet telephony, data security, network services and other applications that the company declined to specify. "We're looking for new business. Normally, you need separate servers for separate services," said Sonera's Technical Director Pasi Sutinen. Because the virtual Linux servers are all part of one computer, they can share their computing capacity, he added. The computer also can add new virtual servers on the fly, he said. Linux has been embraced by IBM as a flexible alternative to licensed software systems. With Linux, companies can quickly add or remove computers without worrying about licenses for the operating software. Over the past year, the software has been tested for business-critical applications, and major deals have started to come through. Recent announcements indicate Linux usage is becoming more versatile, with the operating system moving into many different applications, not just Internet computers. Musicland Stores, the U.S. company that owns the Sam Goody music retail chain, earlier installed Linux and Java-based cash registers. Story Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.