) Windows and offers customers an alternative to being locked into Microsoft products. And Linux has been causing Microsoft headaches aplenty: According to market researcher IDC (IDC
), Linux held 21% of the server computer market in 2003, compared with 58% for Windows.
Torvalds, now employed as a fellow by Linux trade group Open Source Development Labs Inc., coordinates the output of a few dozen volunteer assistants and more than 1,000 programmers scattered around the globe. They contribute code for the kernel -- or core piece -- of Linux. He also sets the rules for dozens of tech companies that have lined up behind Linux, including IBM (IBM
), Dell (DELL
), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ
), and Intel (INTC
While basic versions of the operating system are available for free, Linux is having a considerable financial impact. IDC expects the total market for Linux devices and software to increase from $11 billion last year to $35.7 billion by 2008. Torvalds has quipped that his job is a lot like "herding cats." But these cats are all inclined to move in only one direction -- his.