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Reliability drives Linux use at BBC

Daniel Thomas
Reliability and the ability to change code, rather than cost, are driving the increased use of Linux at the BBC, according to Damion Yates, team leader of internet operations at BBC Technology.

Speaking ahead of his presentation at the Linux User and Developer Expo in London tomorrow, Yates told Computer Weekly that Linux is being used on several projects even though there is no overall BBC strategy to support open source technology.

"Every time that a project is considered, we review the best technology possible - Linux often wins, particularly on small-scale projects," he said. "The most mission-critical area we are using Linux for is the digital text service on Freeview [the red button services on interactive TV]."

Although Linux has lower licensing costs than alternatives such as Windows, the BBC is using it because of technological benefits, Yates said.

"The key benefits are the reliability - our servers that run on Linux have been highly available," he said. "Another benefit is that we can change the code to use it as we wish, it is not about cost. In fact, we do not mind paying for a licence if we are allowed to change the code."

Different departments within the BBC have had varying levels of success with the adoption of Linux, largely due to support issues, Yates said. "The internet division contains 15 to 20 Unix engineers, who can support any flavour, including Linux," he said.

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