October 14, ALS, report from Tim Fournet, LWN volunteer Don Rosenberg started the Business discussions of the Linux Showcase with his presentation "Linux at the Chasm." In it, he describes the major steps of what he calls the Technology Adoption Cycle and where Linux fits today. He gives an accurate depiction of where Linux is being used now and how it will expand into more areas. According to Rosenberg, Linux adoption is presently at a 'chasm' which must be overcome before it can reach a majority dominance. He mentions several conditions which must be met to reach the next step of market share. --- Mr. Rosenberg breaks down the Technology Adoption Cycle into three major steps. The first stage is that of the "innovators." Innovators are the first developers and users of a new technology. In our case these are the people who "sneak" the first Linux installations into their office, or the students who first install it in their labs or at home, or the power users who just want more control over their computers. Sooner or later these innovators get noticed, usually by their own advocacy of the new technology. Those who notice them, the Early Adopters, or "visionaries," see the advantages of the new system, and are eager to embrace it. Rosenberg describes the majority of visionaries as large companies such as IBM and Compaq. These innovators are usually seeking a new advantage over their competitors, and see this as an opportunity. The final stage he covered in his talk is the early majority phase. He describes the early majority as pragmatists. They want stability and interoperability. They really want to do what everybody else is doing, and they want to see multiple vendors and avenues of support. They are not impressed by the non- money-making side of advocacy. -- Right now, we're at the great Chasm between the Early Adopters and the Early Majority. An important step that brought us this far is referred to as "the niche." Niche products dominate small markets but provide us with the real-world trials and facts that show the capabilities of Linux. The "big fish in a small pond" accomplishments and stories are spread and drum up support in more areas. Rosenberg then lists some of the places where Linux is being used now and how these examples mean greater things for the future of Linux and Open Source. Many ISPs are using Linux because of its low cost, flexibility, and control. Linux's file, print, and application sharing abilities are giving it an edge over WindowsNT and commercial UNIXes--Compaq is cross training its Tru64 staff on Linux, an indication of the possiblity that Tru64 may be completely abandoned in favor of a pure Linux OS. He mentions how Linux is being used in imbedded and point-of-sale systems, where the lack of need to worry about licenses is by itself a great relief to administrators. -- Rosenberg gives us some signs to look for that will indicate that "we've won." He believes that the "wizards and high elves will sail west", meaning that the leaders such as Linus and Alan Cox will feel they've completed their work and will move on to other projects. He believes that a continued rise in the stock prices of companies like Corel will be important indicators. Rosenberg believes that at least for the time being that RedHat's stock performance should serve to watchers as a proxy for the success of other members of the communitiy. He states that the appearance multiple hardware, software, and support vendors is another important indicator of widespread adoption.