Add Informix Software to the growing list of Linux fans.
The company early next year will ship a version of its flagship Dynamic Server database on Linux, according to sources close to the company. Informix also plans to deliver a Linux version of its development tool package within the month.
More significantly, Informix executives now believe that demand for its software on Linux is coming from deep-pocketed corporate customers. In July, the company dipped its toe into the Linux waters by posting a free copy of its Informix-SE database to its Web site targeted at curious developers. Overwhelming demand led the company to expand its Linux plans.
Oracle and Netscape Communications have already pledged support for the freely distributed operating system software. Sybase recently said it is offering a free version of its Adaptive Server Enterprise database on Linux, but the company is not offering any support for the database.
Informix plans to offer full support for its software on Linux, sources said. The company sees demand for Linux applications growing extremely fast, outpaced only by sales of software on Microsoft's Windows NT operating system.
Informix Dynamic Server on Linux is expected to ship by the first quarter of next year. The company's Dynamic 4GL toolset will ship in a new Linux version within days, sources said.
The one remaining product in Informix's stable that is not currently in development for Linux is the company's Universal Server option. Universal Server includes support for multimedia data, such as audio and video files.
According to sources, Informix is currently formulating a plan to bring Universal Server to Linux, but no firm delivery date has been set.
Linux was initially released in 1991 when creator Linus Torvalds was a student at the University of Helsinki. It has since grown into a Net-based software phenomenon, with millions of users counted as converts and countless software additions submitted to various ad hoc Linux Web sites for use.
Yet its popularity has been underwhelming, at least with corporate information technology executives, until recently.
With a new software maker pledging Linux support every week, analysts said the operating system is becoming a legitimate competitor to Windows NT.
Microsoft also sees the threat, and in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the company said it expects to see more competition from Linux in the coming years.
Many observers expect the two operating systems to coexist, with Linux serving as a reliable OS for Web servers and NT functioning as an easy-to-use foundation for departmental and workgroup applications.