The HP Linux and Open Source roadshow rolled into Johannesburg last week with the message that Linux is now a "standard" product offering from the company. The annual roadshow, which travels the world spreading the HP message, this year focused heavily on examples of where Linux has been successful in business, including inside the HP business.

  HP's Emea open source technologist Michael Schulz opened the show with a brief history of Linux and open source software before laying out a view of where HP is using Linux for its own operations. Schulz said the company today has as many as 15000 Linux-based devices on its own internal networks and uses free software for many critical roles from its mail system, to DNS servers, and even its LaserJet development laboratories.

Schulz said that HP's entire email infrastructure -- including a webmail client based on Squirrelmail -- is run on Linux and delivers in the region of three terrabytes of mail annually.

HP's internal instant messaging services are also run on open source software, using the Jabber platform, said Shulz.

The comapany's domain name services are also run on Linux using services such as Bind and NTP, said Shulz. The decision to use Linux for these services has paid off, he said, realising savings in the region of around 33%.

HP's Sean Owen-Jones also said the company would shortly be releasing desktop and notebook PCs running Ubuntu Linux. The NX6110 notebook would be available shortly with Ubuntu and a desktop PC would also be available.

Owen-Jones said that on the workstation side the company's hardware has long been Linux compatible -- mainly Red Hat and SuSE -- but it may also offer Ubuntu on these soon as well.

Support-wise, Schulz said HP has around 6500 trained Linux support staff globally as it readies for strong growth in Linux.

He said HP uses Linux beacause "it allows us to create the infrastrucutre that we need. It is also the best operating system available out there."

Globally HP works with Red Hat and SuSE as their primary Linux distributions for servers and workstations. But on a local level, said Shulz, the company is working with Ubuntu.