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This week in open-source news

Adobe quietly begins testing the waters to increase its involvement in desktop Linux. Also: Open-source Web browsers Mozilla and Firefox post gains over Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

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Adobe Systems dips its toes into desktop Linux waters, while open-source Web browsers Mozilla and Firefox make waves with gains over Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Adobe, the maker of such major desktop software as Photoshop and Acrobat Reader has begun to take a more active role by joining a prominent Linux consortium, Open Source Development Labs, which is working to improve Linux and employs Linux founder Linus Torvalds, CNET News.com has learned.

Adobe is seeking to hire a senior computer scientist who will "become maintainer and/or architect for one or more Adobe-sponsored open-source projects." Hosting open-source projects has become a rite of passage for companies--such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and even Microsoft--hoping to sample and perhaps take advantage of the collaborative programming philosophy.

Other tech companies are more public about their open-source efforts. Computer Associates International, for example, entered the open-source arena with its Ingres r3 database release. The company said that Ingres r3 for Linux and Windows is available under an open-source license called CA Trusted Open Source License. The license allows others to view the source code of the database, download the software for free, and incorporate it into other software bundles that are licensed under CA's open-source license.

SugarCRM, meanwhile, is about to launch an on-demand product for managing customer relations. The company already offers a free open-source version of its customer relationship management application, Sugar Sales, on Sourceforge.net and also sells licenses for its enterprise version, Sugar Sales Professional.

Open-source Web browsers Mozilla and Firefox posted another month of gains over Microsoft's Internet Explorer, according to WebSideStory, which measures market share by embedding sensors on major Web sites for the Walt Disney Internet Group, Best Buy, Sony, DaimlerChrysler and Liz Claiborne. These sensors can tell which browsers visitors are using to view the sites.

The percentage of Americans using Mozilla and Firefox, two open-source browsers funded by the Mozilla Foundation, grew to 6 percent in October from 5.2 percent in September and 3.5 percent in June. That 6 percent was split evenly between the two browsers.

Microsoft's IE, however, witnessed another marginal decline, falling 0.8 percent. IE claimed 95.5 percent of users in June, 93.7 percent in September, and 92.9 percent last month. The Opera browser and Apple Computer's Safari combined reached just more than 1 percent of users.

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