Xandros buys Linspire in enterprise Linux bid

Open source distributor buy part of a bid to increase Xandros' presence in the enterprise

New York-based Linux company Xandros on Wednesday bought Linspire, another open source distributor in a bid to increase its presence in the enterprise, an executive said.

Xandros, which originally launched in Canada, did not disclose what it paid for Linspire, which was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in California.

In buying Linspire, Xandros wants to be able to compete head-to-head with rivals Red Hat, Novell, SUSE Linux, and Microsoft, said Vince Londini, research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. Already, Xandros' approach is to provide a Linux-based operating system that looks a lot like Windows, said Londini, "so it's not so hard to say 'Come on over the water's fine,' sort of thing.'"

Last year, Xandros acquired Scalix Inc., a move that gave it an enterprise-class e-mail server software suite. The purchase of Linspire is "just a natural step", said Londini, adding that the lack of noise preceding the deal makes it a bit of a surprise.

Londini isn't ruling out more acquisitions of this sort by Xandros in the near future.

Xandros' CEO, Andreas Typaldos, has acknowledged that the move forms part of the company's desire to expand into enterprise markets. "This is part of Xandros' larger plan and vision for being a full product company to service both the consumer/OEM and enterprise markets," he said.

Typaldos is optimistic there will be more acquisitions of this nature in the near future, given "Xandros is essentially trying to build a strategic technology footprint and we're doing that by trying to build the company quite a bit" through hiring talent and acquiring technologies.

But besides consolidation and competing on the enterprise front, Londini said the acquisition has a great deal to do with Xandros acquiring Linspire's CNR technology to better support its consumer presence, which "exploded" with ASUS Eee laptop last year. CNR is a marketplace that encourages third-party Linux application development of sorts from where Linux desktop users can search, download and install Linux applications.

The news of the acquisition also arrives in light of news that Red Hat Inc. will open source its Red Hat network, which works a lot like Linspire's CNR, noted Londini.

However, Red Hat and Xandros hail from different places, said Londini. Generally speaking, Red Hat has roots in the enterprise space and has subsequently extended to the consumer space, although it has said it's not competing for the consumer Linux desktop market. It's vice-versa for Xandros.

Typaldos insisted that although Xandros is a Linux company, "fundamentally, is much more complementary, rather than competitive" to Red Hat and SUSE Linux. Xandros' strategy is to recognize the ecosystem of Linux companies and Microsoft "and to provide value add in the enterprise that can essentially leverage those investments" that customers have made in those ecosystem vendors, he said.

Red Hat is not focused on OEMs and desktop applications like Xandros, said Typaldos.

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Kathleen Lau

ComputerWorld Canada
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