January 21, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: AOL looking to buy Red Hat?

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

The big news this week came in the form of an unattributed Washington Post report saying AOL Time Warner was in negotiations to buy Red Hat, the leading Linux distribution in the United States.

So far, there's not a lot more information on the deal itself, except the Post report, which quotes "sources familiar with the matter" saying negotiations were fluid. NewsForge's attempts to contact Red Hat officials have so far been unsuccessful.

However, there's already a lot of debate in the Open Source community over whether such a merger between Red Hat and a huge, mostly proprietary-focused corporation would be good for Linux or not. Our own Robin "Roblimo" Miller suggests that AOL's backing could bring Linux to the masses and put a big dent in Microsoft's monopoly of the computing desktop, but a lot of the discussion on that story disagrees.

A column at Oreillynet.com suggests a different outcome, that AOL Time Warner and Red Hat may have radically different corporate agendas.

Lindows vs. Microsoft, round II

Lindows.com, the company trying to create a sort of Linux/Windows hybrid and getting sued by Microsoft in the process, asked this week for help from its friends. They're looking for other uses of Windows-like words in the tech industry. Meanwhile, osOpinion noted that other products do in fact use "Windows" in their names, making the Lindows lawsuit look like a way for Microsoft to smack down another competitor.

In other Lindows news, we heard a rumor from a "you didn't get it from me" source that Lindows may actually have a download available early this week, but we aren't holding our breaths.

Other bits of interesting news

Borland backed down from a rather restrictive end-user license after catching a lot of flack from the Open Source community.

A couple of more sites championed Linux as a desktop operating system this week. From a column at Techweb: " ... Linux's prospects on the desktop have never seemed bright to me. But there's something about Linux. Once you try it, despite how difficult it is to master and use, it gets under your skin. Linux has other things going for it too: A
committed developer community; increasing focus on enterprise needs; low cost compared to Windows; open source code; and no annoying anti-piracy schemes." Also, IT Week tests suggest "Linux could now be deployed with little fuss as a desktop operating system for firms with a Web-centric software strategy." OK, so neither article is exactly glowing, but it seems that more and more people are recognizing Linux as a viable desktop OS.

A column at LinuxWorld.com questions how successful the 2.4 Linux kernel has been for enterprises. "If you have heavy-duty processing needs, 2.4 has been a series of disappointments," writes the author.

New releases

Empower Technologies announced the PowerPlay V, a Linux-based PDA "equipped with the look and feel of a Palm Vx."

Penguin Computing released two new rack-mounted Linux servers and a new Linux workstation.

Instant802 Networks announced the release of OpenAP, an Open Source Linux distribution for 802.11 access points.

Version 2.5.2 of the Linux kernel was released with support for USB 2.0.

Newly reviewed

NewsForge's Miller reviews ELX, which is calling itself "everyone's Linux." He reports some installation problems, but a lot of promise for the India-based project.

Guest writer Matt Butcher reviewed Gentoo Linux, which isn't claiming to be an easy install, but one that's highly customizable. For all of you who like to tweak and fiddle, this might be the distribution for you.

If Gentoo isn't to your liking, try Sorcerer Linux, which is supposed to be "100% optimised for your hardware" and include a convenient way of keeping software up to date, according to a review at DistroWatch.com.

ZDNet reviews SuSE 7.3 and says big businesses would be wise to consider it for both their server and desktop needs.

LinuxWorld.com reviews Volution Caldera's messaging server. It "shows promise, but fails to deliver compatibility with Microsoft's Outlook 2002 calendar."

New at NewsForge and Linux.com

Other stories that NewsForge and Linux.com reported first this week:

We look at some of the other options available for people who want to use Linux virtual machines but don't need the power of an IBM mainframe.

Columnist Jack Bryar says Microsoft may be encouraging governments to switch to Linux with its anti-piracy initiatives.

Stock news

The Nasdaq ended the week at 1.930.34, down from 2,022.46 Jan. 11 and down 55.48 points on Friday alone. The news wasn't much better for our list of Open Source-related stocks, with only two of the 11 -- Apple and MandrakeSoft -- showing gains for the week. It should be interesting to watch Red Hat's stock early this week, however, with the rumors of an AOL merger.

IBM reported its fourth-quarter profit fell 13% from a year ago, while Sun's revenues were down 39% from a year ago.

All you Mandrake fans not in Europe now have a way to more easily buy its stock. The Linux distribution announced it was trading on the U.S. over-the-counter market

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 1/11 Close 1/18 Close
Apple AAPL 21.05 22.17
Borland Software Int'l BORL 16.29 15.39
Caldera International CALD 0.93 0.86
Hewlett-Packard HWP 22.88 22.61
IBM IBM 120.31 114.25
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e4.48 e4.63
Red Hat RHAT 8.71 8.41
Sun Microsystems SUNW 13.32 12.12
TiVo TIVO 7.30 6.34
VA Software LNUX 2.77 2.40
Wind River Systems WIND 19.27 18.03
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