- by Tina Gasperson -
The big United Linux announcement today was anything but exciting. After the
word leaked earlier this week, it seems the press had everything just about
figured out. Early this morning, press releases and announcements rolled in from IBM
and members of the UnitedLinux initiative. The UnitedLinux.com Web site opened
up and Slashdot linked to it. By the time the conference call happened at
11 a.m. EDT, it was anti-climatic.
But it gave all the CEOs a chance to congratulate each other and tell us how
optimistic they are for UnitedLinux. Each of them sounded as if they were
reading from prepared statements, except for Caldera CEO Ransom Love's off-the-cuff comments
at the beginning of the call. Interesting note: In the announcements and on the
Web site, the companies partnering in UnitedLinux are listing in alphabetical
order, but on the conference call the pecking order was a bit different:
Caldera, SuSE, Conectiva, then Turbolinux.
Everyone agrees that life will be much easier with UnitedLinux. Each company is
hoping to expand global reach -- indeed, it was emphasized that combined, they
share the bulk of the market in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, and are second
in the United States, and that UnitedLinux supports 10 languages. Turbolinux
CEO Lee Pham hit the nail on the head when she said that UnitedLinux is
eliminating the two factors that have been "inhibitors" to Linux growth: what
she called the limited availability of business software, and the perception
that there are too many versions of Linux. "There will be a large ecosystem of
software and hardware partners because we have simplified the process. Now there
is one 'go-to' organization to give guidance to customers and partners."
UnitedLinux is open to every Linux around the globe. The code base will be
unified, and each vendor will simply add to the base its own proprietary or
additional software. Imagine if you will, a "UnitedLinux Inside" logo on each company's
CD. United Linux is only for the enterprise, and each member company will still
be free to continue to develop its own desktop distribution independently.
Love says that the source code will be made freely available to anyone who wants
it, but that the UnitedLinux brand will carry a price tag.
Love talked about the decision not to include Red Hat from the start: "Pulling
together the four companies was a pretty daunting task. We started from the
inception [with the intention] that UnitedLinux could be used by more than four
companies, but it would have been counterproductive to start with more than
the four." Love says that as soon as the ink was dry on the United Linux
agreement, they called Red Hat. "We met with [them] and invited their
participation and promised we'd have follow up discussion over the
next several weeks. I also had a call with Mandrake and they were also very
receptive and open to having further dialogues."
Several software and hardware vendors expressed support for the concept: AMD, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Borland among them. HP and IBM were quick to point out they will continue to support Red Hat, in addition to UnitedLinux.
Many potential questions about UnitedLinux are answered in an FAQ at Unitedlinux.com.