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Financial Companies Lead Linux Charge

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Open-source zealots may continue to play a part in instigating the spread of Linux across the European continent, nearly 14 years after Linus Torvalds hatched the operating system in Finland. But private corporations and public-sector users in Europe typically cite pragmatic reasons for taking up the open-source operating system. They point to price and performance benefits. They want freedom to swap out hardware. They find the operating system reliable. They like its flexibility.

"It was not that we just wanted to do open-source. We had to find a way to protect our investment in network computing," says Matthias Strelow, a technical project manager at LVM Insurance in Munster, Germany. "I'm not sure it would have been possible with any other operating system."

When IBM canceled further development of the network stations it owned, the insurance company needed an operating system to run its Unix-based applications and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s new Java virtual machine. So LVM customized Linux to meet its needs. Finally tiring of maintaining the software, LVM is now planning to move 7,700 Linux clients to Red Hat Inc.'s supported desktop distribution, Strelow says.

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