The lowdown on Linux

What's new? Variety. The emergence of Linux has spread the field over the past several years, with a variety of commercial versions. And Unix-makers are dipping a toe into the desktop-PC pond, with OSes for Intel machines. Meanwhile, Apple continues to upgrade Mac OS X as a viable server OS, though its strength is still as a desktop OS for graphics-intensive applications.

Is the Linux suit a threat? The SCO Group has filed suit against IBM Corp. alleging infringements of Unix copyrights in Linux server OSes, and has warned 'any organization using Linux needs to know that they may be legally liable for using stolen code.' Agencies might want to do an internal review of their open-source code for possible patent infringement, but, because the suit does not affect Linux applications, it's not likely to stop Linux altogether.

Must-know info? The end is approaching for Microsoft Windows NT, which means many government managers are facing an upgrade decision. NT is still in use on 60 percent to 70 percent of all Windows servers, but Microsoft will end support at the end of next year. Fortunately, Windows Server 2003 has been well-received.

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