November 1, 2002

Trustix looks for expansion in United States, China

-By Grant Gross -

Trustix, a Linux company based in Norway and Indonesia, is now aiming for larger markets -- the United States and China.

Trustix announced this week a strategic partnership with Langchao, the largest server manufacturer based in China (number three in server sales in China behind IBM and HP), and the company has been quietly pushing its proprietary add-on software to Linux in the United States in recent months. Last week, Trustix formalized a long-standing distribution deal with IBM that would allow the two companies to jointly market the secure Linux OS on IBM hardware in the United States, in addition to Europe and Africa, where Trustix had worked with IBM previously.

Trustix's main product, besides its Trustix Secure Linux distribution, is the Trustix Linux Solutions (TLS) suite, a new line of back-office productivity software designed to work with Linux and be easy-to-use GUIs for Linux non-experts to deploy. The TLS suite includes Trustix Firewall with VPN, Trustix Proxy Server, Trustix Mail Server, Trustix LAN Server and Trustix Web Server.

Trustix opened a U.S. office in San Jose about six months ago, but is now ready for a big marketing push in the United States, says Havard Wollan, Trustix president and CEO.

Trustix is aiming that suite at small- and medium-sized businesses, and Wollan believes that business model can be successful in the United States. "We're addressing the market of ... all the companies that don't necessarily have in-house Linux experts and maybe cannot afford or will not have in-house Linux experts," Wollan says. "We still think that Linux is a very attractive value proposition to those companies, but Linux solutions have to be provided in a slightly different way."

Trustix tells customers new to Linux that it has Microsoft-like look and feel. In addition to its security focus, the company also emphasizes turn-key solutions with hardware partners like IBM.

Trustix's long-time emphasis has been on security, and all its products are focused on its hardened version of Red Hat Linux. Trustix Secure Linux also includes an Open Source automatic updating tool. "The solutions will update themselves as soon as a package is made available, so they will be always up to date, an important aspect of security," Wollan says.

Wollan argues that Trustix's graphical administration tools, which offer guidance for inexperienced administrators, both aid security and make Linux attractive to new users. "This is very important for the mainstream small- and medium-sized enterprises," he says. "This is essential for them to deploy Linux solutions."

Dave Markus, a geophysicist and part-time IT guy at oil R&D company 4th Wave Imaging, says that ease of use was a big reason why his eight-person company went with Truxtix's firewall, Web server and mail server products.

Markus says he looked at other products, including other Linux companies and one Windows-based solution, but found that Trustix best fit the company's need for high security and easy administration. Although Trustix wasn't a household name for the Aliso Viego, California, company, Markus did a lot of research and testing before making the decision.

"The product that looked like it was going to be easiest to use was Trustix," he says. "It had a really nice-looking GUI."

Because 4th Wave Imaging is dealing with "highly proprietary" information such as new oil fields, the company needed an assurance of security. In the eight months the company has been using Trustix products, it's had no security lapses with the Trustix software, although its non-Trustix software has picked up worms.

"From my own experience, so far it's been secure enough," he says. "I don't have an incredible amount of time to be chasing after this stuff. I want something that's industrial strength but is easy to use."


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