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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Linux Products Roll Out for Japanese Corporate Users
  • February 1, 1999 (TOKYO) -- The Japanese market has been invigorated by a range of Linux applications and support service products emerging in rapid succession.
    Linux is drawing a great deal of attention for its merits of cost economy and stability in operation as a server operating system.

    Users have options in the market of Linux packaged products, such as Linux versions of databases and business applications. Support services, often offered on a case-by-case basis, are being systematically arranged and organized. Vendors now are more aware of having services made easily available to corporate users.

    Hurdles Lowered for Linux Server Application

    The number of corporations adopting Linux is increasing. For instance, a system user division of Shimizu Corp., a major construction company, is using 18 servers on which TurboLinux was installed. They serve various purposes such as intranet servers, file servers and mail servers.

    A Shimizu staffer responsible for installation said the reason why Linux was chosen is the stability of the operating system, its robustness without needing a high level of hardware performance and inexpensive cost of coupled hardware and software.

    However, managing Linux server operations is not as easy as Windows NT, which has plenty of functions for operation management on the graphical user interface base. That means users are requested to have a reasonable level of knowledge of UNIX.

    Shimizu has engineers with 10 years of experience in development in UNIX environments, such as Solaris and HP-UX. With such expertise, the company is adept in operating Linux servers.

    Three reasons are cited commonly for why the use of Linux in business is difficult: bothersome installation, a lack of variety in application products and no appropriate established support systems.

    However, those obstacles for Linux server applications have diminished rapidly as the availability of support services and applications designed for Linux servers has improved.

    Making Installation Work Easy

    The following products have contributed to alleviating the problems of installing Linux: "Linux MLD III" of Media Lab Inc. and "TurboLinux Japanese Edition" of Pacific HiTech, Inc. (Table 1).

    Table 1: Major Linux Package Products


    Product Name

    Ichikawa Mitsuru

    Caldera OpenLinux 1.3

    Itsubashi Research

    Japanese redhat Linux5.2

    Pacific HiTech

    TurboLinux Japanese Edition 3.0/ Pro Japanese Edition 3.0

    Media Lab.

    Live Linux/Linux MLD III

    Linux MLD III, when installing Linux to a PC having Windows NT or Windows 95/ 98 already installed, automatically refers to registry information so that users are relieved in terms of time and energy for setup for the preferred environment.

    TurboLinux Japanese Edition is easy to handle because all the screens for setting an environment are displayed in Japanese. In the usual settings, users need to follow instructions displayed in English when installing Linux to a PC server.

    Another reason for complicated installation of Linux is that users cannot apply certain types of devices such as peripherals and video cards to a new Linux environment without modification.

    In the case of Windows installation, users can use attached device drivers functions that are assured. However, assurance of normal operation is not necessarily given to devices in the Linux environment.

    Nonetheless, things are getting better. Vendors are making efforts to offer solutions to the problems by selling servers with the Linux operating system and bundling validated device drivers and having them pre-installed to servers. Servers pre-installed with Linux can be purchased from Otsuka Shokai Co., Ltd., Plat'Home Co., Ltd. and Kojiro Corp. (Frontier Kojiro).

    Full Lineup of Applications Start to Appear

    Linux application lines are filling the market (Table 2).

    Table 2: Typical Server Software for Linux Servers Vendor Product Name


    Product Name

    NTT Data

    Infrover/ UniSQL & InterServ for Linux


    Informix Dynamic Server Linux Edition Suite


    Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise


    Ichitaro Ark for Java

    10 art-ni

    alpha-J Sales Management

    Oracle Corp. Japan

    Oracle 8 Workgroup Server for Linux Release 8.0.5

    Database software products for Linux were released by Sybase KK of Japan in September 1998 and by Informix KK of Japan in December 1998. Oracle Corp. Japan is also preparing its release of the Linux version of Oracle 8 on March 18 this year. Oracle Japan reportedly planned the delivery of the Linux version as Oracle 8i, but the version number has been moved forward to 8.0.5.

    The 10 art-ni Corp.'s "alpha-J Sales Management" is a business application based on Java and assured to run on Linux and Solaris. Order data are entered by clients through a Web browser.

    Justsystem Corp. has scheduled a release of the Java version of Ichitaro, the most popular word processing software in Japan, between the end of February and March 1999. This version of Ichitaro will be made for Linux servers. Specifically, after installing Ichitaro to a Linux server, users can read and edit documents on a client PC with a Web browser.

    Support Provided in Menus

    Support systems are becoming more customer friendly. To date, corporate users have not been strongly encouraged to rely on vendors offering Linux server support, because many of those vendors submitted a quotation of service items and charges on each support service case by case.

    In order to improve case-by-case way of business, more vendors compile support items in menu format for an offer to customers.

    As an example, ThirdWare Corp. plans to provide a three-level support system ranging from support by email to visiting customer sites.

    A business organization was also established to provide Linux support information and related matters (Table 3). However, as a number of organizations are expected to be established in a short period of time, there is confusion in the industry.

    Table 3: Notable Organizations for Linux-Related Activities; Organization Representative



    Linux Consortium (tentatively)

    Fuji Soft ABC

    Linux Section of UNIX Business Association (UBA)

    Open Technologies

    Japan Linux Association (tentatively)

    Japan Linux User Group

    Linux Business Initiative (LBI)


    Still, major vendors are still reluctant to start Linux support.

    "If we add one more operating system to support, we would need to establish a system to counter troubles with thorough investigation when they do occur. It is questionable that Linux really deserves such massive human resources," said Mitsuru Sanagi, general manager of the Strategic Planning Division of Fujitsu Ltd.'s Strategy and Planning Group.

    Related stories:
    � Oracle Japan Moves Forward Shipment Date of Linux Oracle8
    � Linux Surfaces As Alternative to Windows NT

    (Yuichi Sakaguchi, Staff Editor, Nikkei Computer)

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    Updated: Fri Jan 29 21:09:36 1999 PDT