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Netscape’s folly: A lawsuit against Microsoft

Author: JT Smith

Salon.com reports that “the loser in the browser wars has filed a private antitrust suit against Microsoft. But the company doesn’t deserve to win.”

SurfControl unveils advanced bandwidth management for enterprise filtering

Author: JT Smith

From PRNewswire: SurfControl, the number
one Internet filtering company in the global security market, today announced
SuperScout(R) Web Filter VS(TM) 2.1, the new version of its high-velocity
filtering software for managing Internet access in the enterprise. Version 2.1
offers advanced bandwidth management options for large corporations, providing
scalable filtering and flexible configuration on Linux and Solaris platforms.
SuperScout Web Filter VS 2.1 was unveiled today at the CeBIT Exhibition being
held March 13th – 20th in Hanover, Germany. SuperScout Web Filter VS 2.1 runs on the Linux and Solaris operating
systems. Including a one-year subscription to the SurfControl URL Category
List, the product is priced at approximately $8 per user, based on an
installation of 3000 users. Pricing is also available for enterprise
environments up to 500,000 users.

Caldera fights it out in the stock market with reverse split

Author: JT Smith

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Remember when people fought over getting Linux company stock options? Today, it’s the Linux companies fighting to keep their stock prices above water. Caldera, in danger of being delisted by Nasdaq thanks to a stock price lurking around 50 cents a share for months, is taking the radical step today of a reverse stock split. For every four shares of Caldera International, stock owners will now receive one pumped-up share.

Caldera CFO Bob Bench explains, “This will drop our number of outstanding shares from 60 million to 15 million. In theory, the price should go up four times to $2 from 50 cents. Historically, though, a reverse split usually leads to a 25 to 50% drop.” So far, as of noon (US EST) today, the stock (now CALDD instead of CALD on the Nasdaq), has dropped a mere 1%. Still, Caldera needs only to keep its stock price above a dollar to avoid delisting.

It’s essential, Bench says, for Caldera to stay on the Nasdaq rather than go to the pink sheets of the so-called penny stocks. Once there, any stock becomes less attractive to buyers at the national brokerage firms. In addition, stock buyers would no longer be able to use margin accounts — credit — to buy Caldera stock. In short, such companies’ stocks become much less attractive to buyers.

While all the publicly held Linux stocks, including Red Hat and MandrakeSoft, have taken hits in the depressed
economy
, Caldera has faced unique problems by being the one Linux company to also embrace the old Unix-on-Intel business by agreeing to buy SCO’s Unix operations in August 2001.

At first glance, the deal has helped Caldera. SCO’s Unix products — UnixWare (now OpenUnix) and OpenServer — and its professional services division lifted Caldera’s gross revenue from $1 million in the year-ago quarter to almost $18 million in the just reported first quarter. A closer look, though, shows
that the SCO cash flow has declined and that Caldera took a $74 million charge in goodwill and intangible assets from the purchase .

Bill Claybrook, research director for Linux and Unix for the Aberdeen Group, thinks Caldera may be ready to turn the corner. He believes that the SCO merger didn’t go well, but that with some of SCO’s old personnel now gone, “the potential is there for them to get rolling. 2001 was a bad year for everyone. The real question is whether they can take all the stuff in place, and make the jump, but they haven’t made the jump yet.”

While noting that in terms of revenue, Red Hat is doing much better, he also thinks that Caldera isn’t on the same path as Red Hat. “When business people think of Linux they think of Red Hat.”

Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s vice president for system software research, adds that in Europe, when business people think Linux, they think SuSE. Caldera, though, isn’t about direct and retail Linux sales (Red Hat) or Linux services (SuSE), but about providing business solutions using both Unix and Linux on Intel.

Claybrook also points out that Caldera has a strong reseller channel and an installed base of more than 2 million users working with OpenServer, OpenUnix and OpenLinux. Indeed, in terms of small to medium business (SMB) users, Caldera’s Unix operating systems are probably still more widely used than any individual Linux brand.

Unfortunately for Caldera’s growth, that installed base doesn’t want to move from their existing systems. Kusnetzky observes that OpenServer, a mid-’90s vintage Unix-on-Intel system that SCO tried and failed to retire, still sells more copies than OpenUnix and OpenLinux. Kusnetzky even says that the urban legends of OpenServer boxes being drywalled in closets because no one realized that there was a working server in them are literally true. OpenServer costs little, requires minimal maintenance, and can run for years without a glance. It, Kusnetzky explains, is the operating system for people who instead of boasting about their server’s hot new features, boast about having paid a few thousand dollars for a server seven years ago and never having had to spend a penny since.

Thus, one challenge for Caldera is to find compelling reasons for their old SCO users and
resellers to buy new products. Claybrook says, “For Caldera to make money, their buyers need to want to switch from OpenServer to OpenLinux.”

That’s not going to be easy. Kusnetzky says that the Unix-on-Intel business has “seen a dramatic decline. SCO’s [previous ownership] saw grosses of $110 million. The majority of that was Unix system software, training, clustering, and development tools.” Now, the most recent quarter has declined to $60 million. This, he says with understatement, is “not the sign of a healthy business.” He goes on to say that while “we can’t prove a direct relationship, but it seems that Unix-on-Intel users move to Linux with other vendors.”

Kusnetzky adds that while “Unix-on-Intel scales up, most of Caldera’s SMB customers don’t want to scale up on Intel. They want small servers. Many of Caldera’s old SCO business customers can run 40 to 50 users with point-of-sales systems or other terminal based programs on old 486s.” For them, “Pentiums are overkill.” Thus, the multiple processor and other enterprise features of OpenUnix and high-end Linux really don’t interest these customers.

On the plus side, Claybrook says that “their staff is very good” and that the Volution line of network and system management tools are excellent. To him, moving Volution on the marketplace and making Caldera a brand for inexpensive, effective business computing is vital.

Kusnetzky agrees, saying that Caldera has “great products, and great people, they’re just not doing a good job of selling that to people. The power in their existing systems is amazing, at a cost per user that’s much less than a Windows-based solution and have real savings at staffing and help desk costs.” It may not as exciting, but “server-centric computing is cheaper” and Caldera needs to get the word out. He doesn’t think that Caldera’s reseller channel is helping the company do that.

Bench says that Caldera is aware of the issues and working on them. Caldera, however, still strongly believes in its reseller channel and has recently been working to improve it.

In addition, he says Caldera is working with partners on creating new business
applications that can deliver a complete business solution based on OpenUnix or OpenLinux to customers. An early example of this is its Caldera Volution Messaging Server, which is based on Postfix, OpenLDAP and
OpenSSL. These new turnkey business solutions will be sold through its reseller partners.

Bench goes on, “Caldera has been working on tactical plan to move forward and we’ve just completed some very extensive planning sessions. The specifics of this plan will be released in a few weeks.” One major part of that plan will be to produce products and services that will bring Web services to the company’s SMB customers. “These products will require vertical solution providers and VARs to put that solution together and will enable users to move from legacy applications to Web enabled applications.” From where he sits, “vertical integrators and VARs are our competitive advantage.”

Another part of Caldera’s vision is to “build a bridge for all of our customers with the old SCO projects. So that when they are ready to change, the bridge will be there to enable them to move up seamlessly.” At the same time, though, “we’ll continue to support you where you are.” Of course, Caldera hopes that its new Volution products and Web service lines will finally tempt its existing customers to cross that bridge and persuade new value-conscious SMB customers to give the Caldera Linux and Linux-enabled Unix lines a try.

Can Caldera survive to make these plans come through? Stock price or no, Bench says that Caldera actually plans to grow and acquire other companies this year. In part, Bench can make such plans with a straight face because the Canopy Group, with Novell founder and multi- millionaire Ray Noorda, still remains a firm Caldera stockowner and supporter. Claybrook and Kusnetzky also think that Caldera can make it, but that time is running out, and that Caldera must turn the corner by the end of 2002.

Privacy software makes post 9-11 comeback

Author: JT Smith

The Register reports that privacy software is becoming more popular. ”
Zero Knowledge Systems has added a low-cost surfing plug-in for Windows Internet Explorer that lets you bypass much of the junk that online advertisers and spammers use to build up user profiles. WebSecure costs $49.95 and it works by encrypting and rerouting traffic through ZKS’ proxy servers.

Category:

  • Programming

Dvorak: Is Linux your next OS?

Author: JT Smith

I. Valdes writes, “No less a personage than John Dvorak has weighed in (on PCmag.com) on the near future of Linux: ‘…Unfortunately, the Linux community spends too much of its energy on things such as nomenclature (like the name GNU/Linux versus Linux). I sense that Linux is at a crossroads of becoming very important or becoming a footnote in desktop OS history. Right now, I’m banking on it becoming very important ? and I mean on the desktop.’ “

Category:

  • Linux

Lots of Linux at Embedded Systems Conference 2002

Author: JT Smith

Anonymous Reader writes, “LinuxDevices.com has published their weekly newsletter of the latest goings on in the Embedded Linux market. It features a comprehensive roundup of many announcements from this week’s Embedded Systems Conference in San Francisco, CA. Read it here.

Category:

  • Linux

Desktop Linux: The time has come

Author: JT Smith

Anonymous Reader writes, “There are many who find it puzzling that desktop Linux has not garnered as much
market share as it so obviously deserves. There is so very little that organizat
ions cannot do with Linux, existing open source software, and
commercial software running on Linux; and with the prospect of enormous costs sa
vings it is remarkable that there are not more adopters of the platform.” Read the article at Mlug.ca.

Category:

  • Linux

Preferential treatment in distribution model not new

Author: JT Smith

Anonymous Reader writes: “Whatisnew.com has posted Preferential Treatment In Distribution Model Not New. It asserts that Apple imac distribution problem extends beyond Apple, and even impacts Linux.”

Category:

  • Linux

Open Clustering & Scyld Computing Corporation announce partnership

Author: JT Smith

James Chivers writes: “Surrey, UK, 14th March 2002 – Open Clustering and Scyld Computing Corporation announce partnership, and Open Clustering becomes a member of the Scyld Authorised Vendor program.”

High-performance cluster deployments from Open Clustering will feature pre-integrated, supported hardware systems installed and configured with Scyld Beowulf Professional Edition. Additionally, Open Clustering will offer a variety of Scyld technical support packages and training to clients of their high-performance cluster products.

Scyld Computing Corporation develops and supports software for high-performance computing. Their Scyld Beowulf software is the next generation in high performance computing cluster operating systems. It provides simplified cluster integration and setup, minimal administration, and seamless scalability. It also fills the need for a stable, standard, supported platform for the deployment of advanced clustering applications. CTO, Don Becker, technical leader of original Beowulf project team at NASA, states, “We are excited to be working with Open Clustering. The combination of the Scyld Beowulf with Open Clustering’s products along with the support of both of our technical teams will provide a very powerful, high quality solution to meet the needs of commercial users.”

“Our intention for Open Clustering has always been to offer an unrivalled array of solid enterprise platforms. Coupled with Scyld’s professional backup and support, our client’s have a direct line to knowledgeable engineers and into the heart of the team who develop the Beowulf product.”, announced Mr James Chivers, Open Clustering’s CTO, “Our clients demand a very high level of professional cluster installation, customisation and training – our partnership with Scyld will enable Open Clustering to fulfill these demands.”

Open Clustering’s flagship product – the Samurai Blade Server – is fully tested and certified as 100% Professional Beowulf compatible – ensuring that clients receive a stable, reliable and high-performance enterprise level platform.

Open Clustering URL: http://www.openclustering.com

Project Liberty is coming; Sun’s answer to Passport?

Author: JT Smith

bryam writes: “Sun releases SunOne platform for network identity; read it at Yahoo!. One of the first initiatives related to Project Liberty.

‘Network identity solutions help enterprises manage and control their most vital assets — identities. These identities can be customers, employees, partners and equipment and with the Sun ONE solution, productivity and secure access are controlled via a single sign-on. The Sun ONE identity system facilitates open, secure authorization and authentication services, streamlining access and increasing productivity. Managing network identities allows organizations to build stronger, more tailored relationships and services — built to widely different levels of security, including capabilities such as biometrics, depending upon requirements.'”

Category:

  • Programming