For a theoretically free operating system, Linux is -- and will continue to be -- a cash cow, a research firm said Wednesday as it predicted the OS will bring in more than $35 billion in revenues by 2008.
Framingham, Mass.-based IDC said that overall revenue for servers, desktops, and packaged software running on Linux will reach $35.7 billion in the next four years. Currently, IDC pegs Linux's global total take at just under $15 billion.
The numbers are higher than earlier estimates by most analysts, in part, said IDC, because it changed it methodology to account for not just Linux on new hardware, but also Linux that's redeployed on existing hardware, and even cases when the open-source OS is used as a guest operating system, such as in a server partitioned with virtualization software to run multiple OSes.
"This is the first authoritative and comprehensive snapshot of how people truly use Linux," claimed Stuart Cohen, the chief executive officer of the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a Beaverton, Ore.-based Linux advocacy group that funded IDC's analysis of data the research firm collected earlier. "It's not surprising to see that the adoption is far ahead of even some of the most optimistic estimates," Cohen added in a statement.
The OSDL was founded in 2000 by Computer Associates, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, and NEC as a non-profit to push for the adoption of Linux. Linus Torvalds, the creator of the original Linux kernel, is part of the OSDL management team.