Italian bank moves to desktop Linux

Red Hat has just signed a deal with a mystery Italian bank

An Italian bank is to move to thousands of computers to the Linux operating system.

Werner Knoblich, the European vice president of Red Hat, said on Monday that the unnamed bank has just signed a deal to migrate all its 8,000 PCs to Red Hat's open source desktop product.

Speaking at the launch event for Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 4, Knoblich said that Red Hat was seeing increasing demand for its desktop product.

"We have had a huge increase in requests for desktop solutions and for information about desktop solutions," said Knoblich.

A Red Hat spokeswoman was unable to provide more details on the deal in time for this article.

At present the majority of Red Hat's revenue comes from replacing Unix serverst, but Knoblich expects that desktop revenue will become more important over time.

"From a pure business perspective where will we make the majority of revenue? From Unix replacement," said Knoblich. "Will this proportion of revenue decrease because we will get more revenue from desktops? Yes, I'm sure it will. There is still so much potential -- we are at tip of the iceberg."

Red Hat made a relatively late entry into the desktop market, launching its first product targeted at desktop users in May 2004. Its competitors in the Linux desktop space include SuSE Linux, Mandrakesoft and Sun, which has based its Java Desktop System on the open source operating system.

A number of organisations in the public and private sector are migrating at least some of their users to Linux on the desktop, including the cities of Munich, Vienna and Bergen; car hire firm Europcar; and the Allied Irish Bank, at a time when Linux use is on the up in financial organisations.