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Survey: Linux programmers yawn at SCO

A new study finds that 73 percent of Linux programmers believe the SCO Group's legal attacks on the open-source operating system lack merit. Respondents also weighed in on other Linux issues.

A new survey has found that 73 percent of Linux programmers believe the SCO Group's legal attacks on the open-source operating system lack merit.

Of the more than 400 developers who were asked if SCO's case had merit, 73 percent said absolutely not or probably not; 18 percent had no opinion; and 8 percent said absolutely or probably. The findings appear in a survey conducted in February by Evans Data Group.

Programmers aren't necessarily the ones who make companies' purchasing or legal decisions, but previous surveys have shown that information technology executives are also skeptical of SCO's claims that

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Unix intellectual property that should have remained secret is now in the code for Linux.

Lindon, Utah-based SCO has sued Linux advocate IBM for breach of contract over the issue and is tangling with Novell, a Linux seller and former owner of Unix, about which company owns Unix's copyrights. SCO is also demanding that Linux users pay for a SCO intellectual property license, carrying the day with EV1Servers and a "handful" of top companies.

But Linux server sales continue to surge, with revenue growing 63 percent to $960 million in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to IDC.

Evans Data Group's survey covered several other issues central to Linux, an open-source operating system backed by numerous computing powers and developed through a shared, collaborative process.

• It's important or very important to standardize Linux beyond the kernel at the heart of the operating system, 83 percent of survey respondents said. Software above the kernel that's important for programmers includes modules for graphics, user interfaces and management tools.

• Version 2.6 of the Linux kernel, released in December, is already being used by 21 percent of those surveyed. A further 34 percent will use it within six months, and all but 16 percent said they'd be using it within a year.

• The Eclipse programming tools, initially released by IBM but now an independent project, are the most widely used among Linux developers. Eclipse has become a foundation for programming tools from IBM, Red Hat, and most recently Wind River.

• Red Hat's version of Linux is the most widely used, with 75 percent saying they use it in their organization. SuSE Linux from Novell was in second place, with 36 percent, and Mandrake in third with 30 percent. (Respondents could check multiple options.)

• A total of 72 percent believed Linux was more secure than Windows XP; 15 percent said less secure.

• Programmers are still in "wait and see mode" when it comes to Mono and DotGNU, a programming effort to create an open-source version of Microsoft's .Net software for next-generation Internet applications, Evans Data Group said. A total of 31 percent of respondents said they'd use the software, assuming it's finished, but 12 percent said they wouldn't, and 55 percent said they were undecided, the survey found.

• About 29 percent of programmers using Linux write no open-source software, while 13 percent write nothing but open-source software.