IBM updates Linux desktop with Firefox support

Previously supporting only Mozilla and Microsoft's IE, Big Blue's Workplace desktop software now also supports the Firefox browser.

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SAN FRANCISCO--IBM has updated its Workplace desktop software product with support for the Firefox Web browser, the company said on Tuesday.

IBM's Workplace software provides functions such as word processing, document storage and calendars. The processing actually takes place on a central server that people access with a Web browser.

Previously, IBM supported only Mozilla and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Firefox is the default Web browser in Red Hat and Suse Linux, though it's also widely used on Windows, and has been gaining market share.

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Big Blue announced the move at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here. However, it tipped its hand with the move when it advertised to hire Firefox programmers earlier this year.

IBM helped catalyze the Linux business with its vocal support of the open-source operating system. It competes in the Linux server market against Dell and Hewlett-Packard and in the Linux software market against BEA Systems and Oracle.

Also at the show, IBM announced it has reorganized its Linux sales operations. Previously, products using the open-source software were sold by specialists in those products--mainframes, Intel-based servers or Websphere application software, for example.

Now, IBM uses an approach with sales specialists geared to customer headaches in specific industries such as insurance, aerospace, retail or entertainment, said Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of worldwide Linux work. Other sales specialists also tackle specific information technology subjects such as increasing a business's flexibility, he said.