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Muhammad Ali Appears in 90-Second TV Spot

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- IBM is launching a global advertising campaign for Linux, the open-source operating system that has become the world's
The new 90-second Linux spot depicts a youngster being educated by the world's top authorities.
largest competitor to Microsoft's Windows.

Created by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and directed by Joe Pytka, the Linux TV effort breaks in the U.S. with a 90-second ad during Sunday's National Football League games and the U.S. Open Men's Finals. A 60-second version will then go into rotation. Print ads will encourage readers to visit Web sites with Linux content.

The tagline
The main TV spot uses the tagline "The future is open," a reference to "open source" operating systems for large business, government and institutional computer systems instead of "closed" or propriety systems, like Windows, that are currently used.

IBM's strategy is to sell its hardware as the platform for Linux-based desktop and network systems.

The 90-second TV spot depicts a young boy of about 9 years of age in a futuristic sci-fi setting reminiscent of a Steven Spielberg film. Two unseen scientists observe a fair-haired boy being rapidly taught by a number of mentors

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who are seated next to him, teaching him everything from Latin to plumbing.

'His name is Linux'
Among the "teachers" are boxing legend Muhammad Ali, actor/director Penny Marshall, former UCLA Bruins basketball coach John Wooden, Harvard professor and African-American community leader Henry Lewis Gates and A Beautiful Mind author Sylvia Nasar. During the lessons, one of the scientists asks, "Does he have a name?" and his companion answers, "His name is Linux."

Linux is an alternative PC operating system created in 1991 by a 21-year-old computing science university student in Helsinki, Finland, and it is distributed free. The system is now supported, in part, by volunteers worldwide who constantly improve the system and announce exactly how they did it. In the late 1999, a collection of large corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Novell, Oracle and Intel began supporting Linux as a competitive alternative to Microsoft's Windows.

Marketing victories
IBM and its Linux-boosting coalition have scored a number of major marketing victories of late. In one of the most recent, the city government of Munich, Germany, is switching to an IBM-Linux system instead of a Microsoft system.

In a potentially more momentous event yesterday, the central trade ministry of Japan announced that the Japanese, Chinese and South Korean governments had agreed to work together to create a new open-source computer operating system for their countries. Similarly, a European Commission working paper has recently recommended that all national government agencies in Europe shift to Linux-based computer operating systems.

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Hoag Levins contributed to this report.

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