Linux gaining ground in Estonia

  • 2000-08-10
  • Aleksei Gynter
TALLINN - About 50 percent of Estonia's Web servers are now built on the Linux operating system, and one third of Estonian users have either Linux experience or use Linux-based products.

Why? According to Tenno Toniste from Ariman Ltd., an information technology company based in Tartu, it is the price. Costly Microsoft products are posing an ever weaker threat to Linux, which is free, no strings attached and getting better all the time. There are more than 7.5 million Linux users in the world, according to data provided by Eesti Linux, a non-profit organization established to promote Linux.

Developed in 1991 by University of Helsinki student Linus Torvalds, Linux has been available all over the world since 1994. Linux is open source, meaning any advanced user may make changes and adjustments to the operating system. This helps to improve the product permanently, by fixing existing mistakes of other programmers and creating other versions of Linux OS.

Linux operating system's basic component is free to download off the Internet, but specific applications like word processors or graphic tools come with a price tag. Different programmers create so-called distributors, which include the OS and some programs, such as Web and mail server software and word processing.

"Linux has got a great future in Estonia," said Toniste.

But his colleagues from IT training company IT Koolitus and PCT Computers aren't so sure.

Executive director Raido Toonekurg said the target group of Linux users in Estonia remains insufficient.

Mart Roogna, PCT Computers manager, added: "Interest towards Linux products may rise (only) after the release of a proper Linux version in Estonian."

Mandrake Linux, a distributor that won the Best Linux Product and Best Server Software award at Linux World Expo in 1999, is available in Estonian for about 1,000 kroons ($58).

"But Mandrake is not 100 percent in Estonian. Some commands remain in English," said Toniste.

Toonekurg pointed out that more than 30 people have passed Linux training courses at IT Koolitus since spring. All of them were IT specialists from different companies. The training course is three days long and costs 7,900 kroons ($465).

"During the last year the interest towards Linux products have risen either amongst small and big companies, but we do not see any queues forming in front of our door," he said.

Anton Kosinov, a Web master and creator of the virtual Library of Saint Anthony, commented on Linux's usability.

"Windows or Mac-based Web design software is still more convenient and powerful. But Linux is better for building a Web server."

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