IBM has signed a deal with Japanese retailer Lawson that will see is the biggest commercial roll-out of the Linux operating system to date.
Big Blue will supply Lawson, Japan's second largest convenience store chain, with 15,000 IBM computers running Linux. The store is to install two IBM eServer xSeries servers in each of its 7,600 stores, to allow customers to access information via the Internet and communication satellites.
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The terminals will be available for customers to download music, films and other multimedia content, IBM said.
The deal is the latest in a series of moves by Lawson to create an open-standard, Japanese-style e-commerce infrastructure. The retailer said it saw the opportunity as a way to expand the range of items and generate more sales from a limited retail space.
In 1997, Lawson invested more than Y7bn (£40m) on a network of touch-screen Windows terminals, known as Loppi terminals, which it installed in all of its nationwide stores.
Shoppers can access the terminals to buy more than 3,000 items, including tickets for concerts and sporting events, CDs and airline tickets. Lawson took Y50bn worth of sales via its Loppi terminals in 1998, nearly 5% of its total revenue.
Analyst group IDC said it expected shipments of Linux, an alternative operating system to Microsoft's Windows, to the Japanese market to increase to 41,200 units this year, an increase of 144.4%, but shipments of Windows NT are expected to fall by 5.1%, to 323,600 units.