October 19, 2000

Survival of the fittest: Caldera doesn't "get" Linux

Author: JT Smith

By Emmett Plant
NewsForge Columnist

Speaking of GNU/Linux

What is the deal over there at Caldera? They're saying that in the next 18
months, the Unix kernel and the Linux kernel will be competing for total
domination, and only one shall survive. What are they smoking?Okay, now it might just be me, but it seems that Caldera has based their
business on the "blame Microsoft" model, and they've been working on it
for a while now. They've always been the first to speak up against
Microsoft, without saying "Why not try [insert cool thing from
Caldera] instead?" They're not trusted in the Linux marketplace, and I
don't know anyone that runs their distribution of Linux. Who are they to
dictate what people should and shouldn't do with Unix or Linux?

I interviewed Caldera's CEO, Ransom Love, when I worked on a broadcast
program for another Web publication. I hate to say it, but he was a total
marketroid. Seriously. He used the word "paradigm" about six times on the
air. It was embarrassing. There wasn't a Linux community bone in his
body. Caldera's PR people have always made sure I've gotten a free boxed
copy of their distribution, and I've loaded it once. Apparently, their
definition of "install features" includes being able to play Tetris while
packages load. Sigh.

Say what you want about Red Hat, at least they pay lip service to the
community and sponsor projects and development. Caldera doesn't give a
damn. If they do, I haven't seen it. Maybe there's a community liaison guy
at Caldera I've never met. Maybe there's more to their tradeshow
presentations than the standard "sit down for 20 minutes and we'll
give you a T-shirt" deal I've seen. I'm not the only one who's not seeing
the unspoken disdain for the Linux community, either. Let's ask my friend

Q: What do you think of Caldera?
A: "They seem to have both mistimed and mismanaged their shot at being a
Linux company."

Indeed. Now, I don't expect every Linux company in the world to pay
tribute to the almighty community. Alright, maybe I do. Gotta give back to
the people who helped you get where you are. But the Linux community
didn't help Caldera get anywhere. Maybe it helped their market valuation
or something somewhere somewhen. It still doesn't change the
truth: Caldera doesn't "get" Linux.

Anyway, I'll stop being tangential. What's with this "survival of the
fittest" stuff? Oh, no, we can't compete in server space! That might be
good for customers and end users! God forbid we learn something from the
marketing insanity of the past. Survival of the fittest. Who do they think
they're kidding?

You know what, Caldera? Maybe in the end, it's a "survival of the fittest"
competition. If what I've seen and what I've heard are any indication, you
better get your corporate attitude back to the corporate gym.


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