UnitedLinux is born

A single Linux operating environment unifying the technology of Linux distributors Caldera International, SuSE Linux, TurboLinux, and Connectiva will arrive later this year, according to representatives for each company.

Expected in the fourth quarter of 2002, "UnitedLinux," as it's called, will provide a single, common code base for Linux vendors to add their individual flavorings, making it easier for users to run applications across different Linux environments, according to Tim Beyers, a UnitedLinux representative.

"Worldwide, customers have been demanding a totally unified Linux code base, this now provides it," said Beyers, who added that a single Linux code base "means there will be only one Linux code base to certify for partners for their software and servers, and customers will have to support and maintain only one code base, simplifying the lives of IT mangers who want to bring Linux into their enterprise."

The common UnitedLinux code base will arrive for customers on one CD, with the "value-add" of the individual distributor one a second CD. Each distributor will essentially share revenues generated by UnitedLinux, with the primary integrator receiving added compensation, according to UnitedLinux representatives. For example, if customers are primarily looking to use technology from SuSE Linux, SuSE will garnish additional dollars over the other UnitedLinux partners. An exact breakdown of the payment percentages was not given.

Industry support for UnitedLinux will be offered by a range of major industry players including Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Computer Associates International Inc.

Representatives for the four founding Linux distributors explained the absence of technology vendors such as Sun Microsystems, and particularly the absence of Linux king-pin Red Hat, as simply a matter of timing. Apparently, notification of the formation of UnitedLinux was last minute for potential members such as Sun, Red Hat, or Mandrake Linux, who are each welcome to join and have each expressed interest in UnitedLinux, according to UnitedLinux representatives.

"We have approached Sun," said Ransom Love, the president and CEO of Caldera. "They haven't had time to completely analyze what [UnitedLinux] means and how they would participate. It's a timing aspect more than anything else."

The diversity of the individual Linux offers from the initial four distributors should prevent any overlap of services, according to Dan Kusnetzky, a senior analyst with IDC, in Framingham, Mass. Each of the founding distributors has had success in different Linux markets such as SuSE's high-end commercial activities in Europe and Germany, Caldera's Open Unix "replicated site business," or Turbolinux's parallel computing and cluster management software. And Kusnetzky predicts each of these Linux distributors will hang on to their key markets.

The individual distributors are "probably are looking at ways of staying in the markets they are in because they really are not competing with one another except on the remote edges, otherwise they are very complementary," Kusnetzky said.

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