White-Box Market Slow To Embrace Linux

Linux has yet to make significant inroads into the white-box PC market.
Despite the excitement and rash of new products at this month's LinuxWorld Expo, the operating system has yet to make significant inroads in the white-box market, system builders say.

TENCorp, a Needham, Mass.-based system builder focusing mainly on the education, government and small-business spaces, supports Microsoft, Novell and Apple, but not Linux, said Jake Brown, vice president of marketing at the company.

Linux is an option for startups and end users, but not for TENCorp's current customers, Brown said. "Linux demands significant support," he said. "It's a great [operating system], but the number of people who can support it well in a 1,000-node network is limited."

Patrick Derosier, co-owner of CPU Guys, a Hanson, Mass.-based system builder, said he prefers Linux because of its lower-cost but must keep a Linux technician on staff for support.

However, Derosier said the biggest problem he faces with Linux is lack of awareness. "A lot of people are not sure what Linux is or what the open-source concept is."

While acceptance of Linux has been slow, several solution providers say they are prepared for when the market gets ready.

Tony Dinato, a partner at Dream Computers, said the Chester, N.Y.-based system builder will bundle Linux on a system when asked but does not actively market the operating system."We will do [that] when at least five people walk in and ask for it in a month," he said.

Malcolm Mendonsa, co-owner of NetServ, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based solution provider, said the company is in the process of getting its technicians certified in Linux and expects to be ready to take the Linux message to customers this summer. "We see the opportunities in terms of new platforms," he said. "Also, customers are asking for Linux for its security and antivirus potential."

Matthew Marsh, president of Paktronix Systems, an Omaha, Neb.-based system builder who has focused on Linux for years, said most of his peers do not understand the benefit of Linux, selling it only as a desktop replacement, which is not its main strength.

Instead, Marsh bundles his own Linux software, PakSecured, which is focused on network security, with white-box systems from a local builder.

"In the VPN space, we sell [the systems] hand-over-fist," Marsh said.

System builders also say the lack of trained Linux personnel among customers is holding back the operating system's growth.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing