February 6, 2001

Ximian: More deals will give Gnome wider audience

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -
Ximian -- the company formerly known as Helix Code -- announced its first deal with a major technology player during LinuxWorld, but Nat Friedman, Ximian's CEO, promises it won't be the last.

The Gnome desktop is everywhere from the
to Chinese desktops these days, and the folks at Ximian are doing their part to keep up the momentum. Hewlett-Packard has picked Ximian Gnome for the default desktop to replace CDE for its Unix HP-UX workstations after the release of HP-UX-11i, scheduled for later this year. Gnome should start appearing on the Hp-UX desktop later this year, and Friedman praises HP for "getting it" that the Open Source community is a partnership where the 800-pound tech gorilla can't be heavy handed.

Ximian, a commercial Gnome services company, will customize the Gnome desktop for HP-UX, and give the hardware company an "enhanced, tested" version of
Gnome. Ximian put together the demo for its monkey-themed booth at LinuxWorld in nine hours, but the full-functioning version of Gnome for HP-UX will take a couple of months.

Ximian offers its customers several incarnations of Gnome, from the up-to-the-day latest release for the cutting-edge user to a 1-year-old stable version
requested by HP and its "conservative" customers such as Ford and AT&T, Friedman says. Users can also pick several other versions between those two extremes.

Because Ximian specializes in the desktop, complete with a quality assurance team to turn around bug fixes, companies are seeing it as a more cost-effective alternative than creating their own desktops, Friedman says. "Also, we're a unifying force in the sense that now your Linux desktop and your HP-UX desktop will work exactly the same."

The Turbolinux distribution is shipping Ximian Gnome with its next release, and Ximian is currently negotiating to bring the Gnome desktop to even more eyeballs, but he can't talk more about those potential deals. "There's a lot of interest," he says. "(More deals are coming) within the next three months. They range from small Linux distributions to very specialized markets to the brand names we know and love, operating systems vendors."

The next step for Ximian is to market itself as a basic "communications appliance" with network services built into the desktop, because, for most people, email, word processing, and browsing are the main uses for a computer, as opposed to the small number of Microsoft Office-type users.

The desktop network services Friedman hopes Ximian can market include things like Spam-abatement services, off-site storage of email, and a Web-based calendar. "We think that there's a real opportunity for these communications tools to be the springboard for Linux to make its way onto the desktop," he says, "especially in the corporate environment."

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