Linux firms unite to propel open source OS in enterprise

An effort by several companies to create a uniform version of the Linux operating system could ease installations in the enterprise, according the head of a major Canadian Linux user group.

Caldera International Inc., Connectiva, SA, SuSE Linux AG and TurboLinux Thursday formed an initiative

called that will be the foundation for a range of hardware and software products. These products will continue to be sold under the partners’ own brands, they said. UnitedLinux will be based on the Linux Standards Base (LSB) and the LiN18ux standards and will be focused specifically on IA-32, 64-bit server products, where many Linux companies believe the open source OS holds the most promise as a competitor to established competitors like Microsoft.

UnitedLinux received immediate endorsement from IBM, HP, Borland and a host of other companies that have increased their support for Linux over the last five years. Suspiciously absent from the ranks was Red Hat Software, which research firms like IDC have ranked with a leading market share position among the various versions of Linux, which are called distributions.

Evan Leibovitch of the Canadian Linux Users’ Exchange (CLUE), was cautiously optimistic of the move. “”It definitely is a step forward. You’re taking a step away from the kind of Unix fragmentation we had in the 80s,”” he said.

Leibovitch said certain segments of the open source software development community have been having trouble installing because there are subtle differences between all the RPM packages from each of the various Linux companies.

“”A software vendor, instead of having to produce six different versions of their distribution, would only have to produce two,”” he said. “”This helps very much a company like IBM. Right now they have strategic agreements with Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE and TurboLinux. Their headache has now gone down from four to two. Would they love it to be one? Of course they would. But Red Hat has sort of seen itself as being the 600-pound gorilla in the marketplace.””

Caldera chief executive Ransom Love said United Linux came out of discussions with Linux International and Debian co-founder Bruce Peren’s suggestion that the industry needed a Linux standard. This was the basis of LSB, he said.

“”We feel for Linux to be successful overall, we have to solve the business issue first,”” he said. “”That’s where Linux will be deployed in business or enterprise.””

Love said Red Hat had been approached by the partners and was welcome to join.

“”We needed to have global coverage, and so that’s what really drove the formation of the four pillars, if you will,”” he said. “”We picked on getting the market presence in each of the global areas because we knew each of the ISVs and OEMs were demanding that of us.””

Red Hat spokespeople refused requests for interviews with, preferring to issue a statement which called UnitedLinux a “”good development,”” but said “”time would tell”” if the results would compare with the application support offered by its own Red Hat Advanced Server.

Leibovitch said the emergence of UnitedLinux shouldn’t hamper the community spirit that has been the hallmark of Linux’s evolution among software developers.””You still have projects out there such as Debian, which are completely community-driven and will not be affected one shred by this announcement,”” he said. “”Open source software developers will do stuff for Debian, in fact, before they do the commercial ones.””

The UnitedLinux partners said the first versions of the software should be available by the fourth quarter. Alpha versions are in testing now.

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