Paint retailer brushes up on Linux

Sherwin-Williams has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to use 9,700 IBM Linux PCs to run operations in its paint retail stores, the companies are set to announce.

Sherwin-Williams Paint Stores has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to use 9,700 IBM Linux PCs to run operations in its paint retail stores, the companies will announce Thursday.

Sherwin-Williams will use the PCs in more than 2,500 stores for running each store's centralized cash register software, reading e-mail and browsing the company's intranet, and for securely recording customers' choices in custom paint tints.

The Linux systems will replace a version of Unix from the Santa Cruz Operation, a company that Linux seller Caldera International acquired in 2001. The SCO products have been popular in "replicated sites," the nearly identical retail outlets for companies such as Pizza Hut or Blockbuster Video that dot mini-malls, downtowns and shopping centers.

Linux, once a mere hobby, is gradually encroaching in the mainstream computing world. It's been supported by Linux specialists for years, but since the late 1990s, companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Oracle and SAP--most of the biggest computing companies except Microsoft--have been getting involved.

Red Hat sells the most widely used version of Linux, but Sherwin-Williams is using Turbolinux's package.

The Linux systems will be installed by the second quarter of 2003, IBM said. IBM Global Services is handling the migration to the new systems.

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