July 2, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: Caldera charges per seat, VA Linux refocuses

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

It was an interesting week in the Open Source business world, with Caldera deciding to charge per seat licenses, MandrakeSoft deciding to go ahead with an initial stock offering, and VA Linux deciding to get out of the hardware business, its once core function.

NewsForge news editor Dan Berkes was among the first to report that Caldera plans to charge a per-seat fee for the new version of its Open Linux Workstation. Others noted that the company was "bucking a trend in the Linux business."

Also bucking a trend, perhaps, was France-based Linux distribution MandrakeSoft deciding to conduct an IPO in late July despite the slow tech economy. NewsForge news editor Tina Gasperson talked to Jacques Le Marois, MandrakeSoft co-founder and CEO about that decision.

Not bucking the economic trend was NewsForge parent company VA Linux, which announced this week it was dumping its hardware arm for a software and service focus. The announcement surprised a lot of folks, including one commentator who said, "Calling VA Linux Systems' decision to cut its hardware business a 'new strategic focus' is like calling a leg amputation a minor abrasion."

Eric S. Raymond, the Open Source activist and VA Linux board member, offered several comments about the change, saying in part that times have changed since the world needed Linux hardware specialists.

For information on how VA's change of focus will affect your favorite OSDN site -- VA owns Slashdot, freshmeat, SourceForge, Themes.org and others -- check out OSDN general manager Richard French's statement on NewsForge. From French to readers: "What does this mean for you? It means that that all of your favorite OSDN sites ... will be operating as usual. Indeed, with more focused resources of the company available to OSDN, we are expecting more growth, more new features, and more of all that's made OSDN a success."

Red Hat: Open Source can make money, really

That's the message from Red Hat CFO Kevin Thompson during an interview with NewsForge columnist Jack Bryar this week. Thompson was optimistic about the future of "conservative" Red Hat and the Open Source business model in general. Asked if he had any message for VA Linux's CFO, he said: "Buy Red Hat Stock. It's a bargain."

Of course, we couldn't get through this column without mentioning our favorite monopolist, Microsoft. This week, a U.S. federal appeals court vacated a lower court's ruling calling for the breakup of Microsoft. It's worth noting, however, that the higher court didn't rule against the decision that Microsoft was a monopoly, just the order to break the company up. There's some talk by the likes of Bill Gates about settling the government case against the software gorilla.

Enough business, on to the cool stuff

Some cool, new announcements this week:

There were several reports this week about the new Intrinsyc Software CerfCube, a Linux-based computer that is only 3 inches on a side. ZDNet UK noted, "The device is so small that it comes with a wrist strap for carrying it around."

FreeBSD Services plans to distribute the Unix operating system on a DVD soon.

The Mozilla browser inched closer to a 1.0 release with its Milestone Mozilla 0.9.2 release this week.

New in NewsForge

Stories reported first in NewsForge this week:

Editor in chief Robin Miller looks at the predicted death of the Linux desktop and finds that it's running just fine on his desktop, thank you.

Freelancer Joe Barr interviews the newly crowned "Sexiest Geek Alive" Ellen Spertus (forget it, guys, she's married), and finds out she's big on Linux.

News editor Dan Berkes talks to the guys porting Linux to the now-classic DEC VAX. If you ever want to find out how the inside of an Open Source development project works, this team explains a lot of the details.

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