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VA Linux adds major customers

VA Linux Systems signs on two new customers that together will buy hundreds of its servers, as the operating system continues to gain popularity in use with back-end systems.

VA Linux Systems has signed on two new customers that together will buy hundreds of its servers.

NetLedger, a company that offers online accounting services to small and medium-sized businesses, has bought nearly 500 servers and plans to increase that beyond 1,000 in coming months, said founder and chief technology officer Evan Goldberg. And Evoke, formerly known as Vstream, has bought hundreds more for its business of hosting business meetings over the Web.

The deals highlight one area where Linux is gaining a foothold: large numbers of slim servers stacked in racks, attached to the Internet and often connected to a more powerful back-end system. Linux in this area costs less than proprietary Unix or Windows systems, particularly when coupled with comparatively inexpensive Intel-based hardware, advocates say.

NetLedger began in 1998 based on an idea of Larry Ellison, chief executive of database giant Oracle and chairman of NetLedger's board. Ellison sunk millions into the venture to get it going, Goldberg said. The company uses Oracle database software on back-end storage servers from Network Appliance; the Linux servers handle interaction with customers.

Linux Center NetLedger's services compete chiefly with shrink-wrapped software from companies such as PeachTree or Intuit. Goldberg argues that companies will prefer NetLedger's $5-per-month Internet service because it frees them from the worries of backup, managing complex computers or buying multiple copies of the software for multiple users.

NetLedger's servers are housed at Level 3 Communications.