Checking out Linux

* Hannaford shops at Linux

Supermarket chain Hannaford Bros. of Scarborough, Maine recently installed a Linux-based point of sale system from Retalix. Hannaford is the latest in a trend of retailers turning to Linux for their POS terminals.

Hannaford, which operates 119 stores throughout the Northeast, chose Retalix's StoreLine POS system, which is based on diskless and fanless terminals from retail POS hardware maker Wincor Nixdorf.

The Retalix software provides workers with a touchscreen and graphical interface for easy use. The software can run on Linux systems or embedded Windows and Hannaford decided on the Linux version because it was considered more robust and had a lower cost.

Hannaford also chose the Retalix system because the software was easy to integrate with the store's back-end systems. The Retalix Linux software was also compatible with the Wincor terminal, which has no moving parts. The Wincor Beetle/S embedded terminal, which has no fan or hard disk, has a smaller footprint than PC-based POS systems and requires less rebooting. Also, the terminal can be turned on quicker than traditional PCs, the company says.

According to a study last year by IHL Consulting, which tracks technology trends in retail stores, the use of POS terminals based on Linux grew 80% in retail stores in 2001, and the firm expects the trend to continue.

The use of Linux is picking up among retailers, which typically spend around 40% of their IT budgets on POS technology. In a market owned by IBM, with roughly 75% market share, competitors such as NCR, Wincor, and recently Dell are turning to Linux for a competitive edge. IBM currently offers Linux POS systems as well.

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