Run by UnixpacGroup's spinoff company LinuxPlaza, the forum is a key feature of the Linux solutions provider's services.
While LinuxPlaza has a strong web presence, the company is also developing a channel for Linux vendors moving into the Australian marketplace, said Edward Lenta, LinuxPlaza's sales manager.
"The LinuxPlaza website was developed to be a point of reference for Linux users in Australia," Lenta said. Targeted at corporate and government users, the site provides news, a discussion forum, support services, product information and product purchasing and ordering functionality, he said.
Additionally, LinuxPlaza has established relationships and partnerships with vendors including Stormix, SuSE, Red Hat, TurboLinux and Corel Linux. Products from these vendors and others are available from the website, in addition to reference material and books.
"Partnerships are crucial to our continued success. We will partner with vendors of good products and present them to Australian corporate and government users."
According to Lenta, while LinuxPlaza will not strictly act as a distributor for the vendors, in some cases distributor agreements are in place. "We do wear the distributor hat . . . we've got distribution agreements with large US vendors, but the majority of our business is done directly with the public," he said.
The company expects to have 150 different vendors on board within three months. The customer base is already growing fast and the 15 staff members will double to 30 within six months, he said.
Lenta said LinuxPlaza is currently finalising deals with content providers for the supply of Linux news and related Australian content. In the future, Lenta said LinuxPlaza plans to offer free hosting services to developers working on open-source applications and Linux training.
Meanwhile, Lenta was well pleased with the attendance at the Linux Open Source Expo and Conference, part of IT 2000. The conference is being held this week in Sydney. "I'm wonderfully impressed," he said. "Linux is the centrepiece of the IT 2000 Expo. It's only meant to piggyback on it."