Linux is used as a server all the time. From branch-offices using Linux and Samba to Google running, well everything, on Linux, it’s the operating system for choice for most businesses. Except that is, for small offices. There, Microsoft’s SBS (Small Business Server) is the server of choice. The Clear Foundation wants to change that with their ClearOS 5.1 small business server distribution.
Why has Linux not done well here? It’s an odd story. In some ways, Linux has historically done quite well for small businesses. Back in the late 1990s, the Cobalt appliance line did quite well in the market. Sun, in one of their less than bright moments, however, bought Cobalt for about $2 billion in 2000. By neglect, Sun had killed off Cobalt, and small business server Linux, by 2004.
Of course, this is Linux. Why hasn’t someone else stepped up? In part, Linux hasn’t entered the small business market because Linux distributors haven’t focused on it. Only Novell, of the major Linux players, with its Novell Open Workgroup Suite Small Business Edition had made much of an effort in this area. The Clear Foundation’s sole focus is on providing small business users with an easy-to-use server.