January 27, 2001

Storm Linux publisher 'reorganizing'

Author: JT Smith

- by Robin Miller -
Yes, "reorganization" in this context is a polite term for
"bankruptcy." But it is still possible -- we hope -- that Stormix Technologies, the company behind Storm Linux, can round up an additional injection of capital and keep going, even though things look rather bleak at the moment.NewsForge got an early whiff of trouble at Stormix when we contacted the company first in late December and again in early January to request a review copy of Storm Linux, and were told that they had no CDs available. Their PR person put a great spin on the lack of product, saying their latest release had been "so successful" that they had sold out.

This smelled a little funny; if the company's products were that successful, why wouldn't they simply make more? CDs aren't expensive to produce, and people like us are interested in evaluating the actual software, not looking at fancy boxes. And if things were going that well, why not print more manuals and make more boxes? There are thousands of "print on demand" shops out there these days that will whap out a small number of installation guides almost overnight for a reasonable fee -- at least reasonable enough to get a company through a temporary product shortage.

Another clue to potential Stormix problems was that many customers who had bought Storm Linux in stores had been promised product rebates, but had not received them even after months of waiting.

The kicker came in the form of a letter dated January 17, 2001, from the Deloitte & Touche (accounting firm) office in Vancouver, BC (where Stormix is located), that included these words:

  • I, Stormix Technologies Inc., an insolvent person[*], pursuant to Subsection 50.4(1) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, intend to make a
    proposal to my creditors.
  • Deloitte & Touche Inc. of 2100-1055 Dunsmuir Streeet, Vancouver, B.C., a licensed Trustee, has consented to act as Trustee under the
    proposal. A copy of the consent is attached.
  • A list of names of the known creditors with claims amounting to @250 or more and the amounts of their claims is attached.
  • Pursuant to Section 69 of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, all proceedings against me are stayed as of the date of filing this notice with
    the Official Receiver in our locality.

*Under Canadian law, a company is considered a "person" in many financial and legal matters.

This doesn't necessarily mean Stormix is going to immediately shut down; many businesses in both the United States and Canada file bankruptcy as a temporary measure while they get their financial act together or look for a more stable company to buy them. But all too often this sort of reorganization is a prelude to corporate death. It certainly was for U.S. retail chain Montgomery Ward, which operated under a court-supervised bankrutcy that allowed it to keep operating for several years while it tried to make a comeback -- an effort that ultimately failed.

The folks on the stormlinux-users-list have been emailing each other back and forth like mad about this recently. Storm Linux, which adds GUI admin tools to Debian, has a dedicated following who hope the company -- or at least the Storm Linux product -- survives and that support for it continues.

The January 2001 list archives are here -- at least if Stormix hasn't pulled the plug on the server hosting the list archive by the time you read this; their ftp servers have reportedly been "up and down" over the last few weeks, and their list servers have also been out of commission for part of January. (Posts about the bankruptcy are toward the bottom of the page.)

We at NewsForge wish Stormix the best of luck, in large part because we have heard many good things about Storm Linux and were looking forward to trying it, and possibly using it permanently after we published the review.

Sadly, it looks like we may not see Stormix formally at Linux World this week, but if any Stormix employees, ex-employees, or devotees are at the show and would like to talk to us, either as reporters or as sympathetic friends, please stop by the OSDN booth. We'd love to meet you.

NewsForge editors read and respond to comments posted on our discussion page.


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