March 19, 2001

Caldera aiming for 'long beta' with OpenLinux server package

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

You might think "Project 42" is some kind of secret government effort involving space ships and little green men. You'd be wrong, of course -- Project 42 is the code name for Caldera Systems' OpenLinux server software, released for open beta today.

Interested beta testers can go to volunteer for the project, a Linux 2.4-based software package targeted at medium and small businesses that includes a secure Web server, a file and print server, a set of network infrastructure servers, and a firewall. Joe Ballif, the project's product line manager, said the company is committed to an "incredibly long testing cycle" of several months so that OpenLinux is as stable as possible.

"Traditionally, we have not been as good as maybe the other companies have been in having open betas and sharing where we're going and what we're doing," he said. "We've taken the the approach that it does provide some value to us and the rest of the world to have more eyes look at it."

Caldera is also touting OpenLinux's easy "out-of-the-box" setup and its security as its main selling points. Caldera added a couple of intrusion detection packages and had an -in-house security expert pick through the OpenLinux code with a fine-tooth comb and document the changes, Ballif said.

"I read article after article saying the smart money is on security," Ballif said. "We took of some of the security checklists from the Unix community, and had him take those and go almost line-by-line through the code. We found some processes which we eliminated ... we changed permissions, closed ports off."

OpenLinux's default "out-of-the-box" configurations are aimed at those small businesses who don't have a dozen network administrators to set up servers, Ballif said.

Although OpenLinux will run on top of Caldera merger partner SCO's UnixWare product, Ballif said the company isn't trying to get customers to abandon that product. OpenLinux allows customers to develop and deploy their projects on one platform.

"UnixWare is an awesome product," he said. "It's very scalable, it's very robust ... it does some things in the SMP world Linux is craving to be able to do. Eventually, Linux will get there, but it's not quite there yet. We're trying to get people over there sooner than they would by waiting for Linux to get their by itself."

Expect to see a final release of OpenLinux in the next quarter. "We're making sure that we're not rushing at all," Ballif said. "We'll make sure we have something that'll last for awhile, then keep it up to date. It seems that there's been a lot of emphasis on freshness within the Linux industry, but the reality is that businesses, to some extent, do not like freshness. They want something that works, and leave it."

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