Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Commerce page.
Caldera Systems filed for its initial public offering this week.
Caldera thus leads off in the expected stampede of Linux companies going
public this year. The more masochistic among us can pick up tons of
details from Caldera's
S-1 filing, but be warned that it's about 1.4MB of solid legalese. If
we weren't gluttons for punishment, we would not have published LWN for the
last couple of years; thus we are well qualified to slog through this
document. Here's our impressions.
Caldera Systems comes in as a relatively small company. In 1999, it lost
$9 million on $3 million in revenue. Red Hat, instead, filed
with a loss of $0.1 million on $11 million in revenue; VA Linux
lost $14.5 million on $17.7 million. Caldera has grown from just
over $1 million in 1997 and 1998, but it still lags behind the other
companies that have gone public so far.
The strategy outlined in the filing is "Linux for eBusiness." This is a
relatively new approach, having been adopted less than a year ago, when
they evidently gave up trying for business desktops. As part of this
strategy, Caldera seems to be betting heavily on its "eBuilder" product,
which should come out before June. eBuilder is a Java-based component
framework for business applications - and it is at least partly
proprietary. Interestingly, one of the "risk factors" listed in the S-1 is
that they could lose their license to distribute the parts of eBuilder that
come from Evergreen Internet. In other words, Caldera's use of proprietary
software poses an explicit risk to the business as a whole. (Of course,
dependency on free software is listed as a risk factor as well, as is the
case with all Linux IPOs).
Caldera has also paid $1.3 million to Sun for the use of Java, and will
likely pay substantially more than that in the future.
The plan for the IPO is to raise $57.5 million. Unless "Linux fever" recedes
somewhat over the next couple of months, that number is likely to go
up. There is currently no projected share price, which is typical for an
initial S-1 filing; that information will get filled in later on. Caldera
plans to trade under the symbol "CALD".
Here's a few other bits and pieces from the filing:
Caldera seems to be betting everything on the "Linux for eBusiness"
approach. There is little mention of unrelated things, like web portals.
Straight sales of software, along with an increasing services and training
business, is where they plan to get their money.
- In December, they bought 2% of Troll Tech for 106,356 shares of
Caldera stock. Thus, Caldera can be expected to stay committed to
KDE. They have also bought 4% of Evergreen Internet and 17%
of sister company Lineo.
- They give the usual list of risk factors. First among them is that
they changed their strategy in the last year (the "eBusiness" focus).
Also: "we have never been profitable."
- The fact that they do not employ any "significant" kernel hackers is
also a risk factor.
- Yet another risk factor: the Linux community may not accept their
hybrid open source/proprietary approach. That one could be real,
Caldera has certainly taken a steady low-level stream of criticism for
its use of proprietary software. Bob Young has criticized Caldera for
this as well.
- They tried to trademark "OpenLinux" and "Linux for Business," but
the application was rejected.
- Through 1998, 100% of Caldera's revenue came from software sales.
In 1999, that dropped to 90.9%, with the rest coming from services.
- At the end of 1999, Caldera had 108 employees: 31 in software
engineering, 30 in sales and marketing, 20 in customer service and
technical support, 7 in operations, 11 in finance and administration
and 9 assigned to development of their electronic channel.
- Ray Noorda "beneficially" owns 83.8% of Caldera, by way of the Canopy
Group and MTI Technology Corporation. CEO Ransom Love owns 1.6%. The
venture capital investments announced on the same day as the IPO
filing do not seem to be included in this table. Mr Noorda's large
stake was also listed as a risk factor; he can hand pick the board of
directors and do just about anything else he wants with the company.
LWN asked whether Caldera planned a community stock offering, but they
claimed they were unable to answer the question at this time.
Other announcements from Caldera include a $30
million round of venture capital funding from Sun, Citrix, Novell, SCO,
Chicago Venture Partners, and Egan-Managed Capital; and the
settlement of the Microsoft lawsuit. Terms on the settlement are not
being disclosed, but the information available suggests that the amount
involved is around $150 million.
Netizen releases training materials. Netizen has announced the release, under an open publications
license, its materials for its Unix and Perl training classes.
IBM 'RedBook' project for remote administration. IBM apparently
intends to develop a project which allows for remote administration of
Windows and Linux systems. According to this RedBook
description, "IBM intends to introduce a product that will allow
customers to centrally manage desktops and applications for Windows 98, NT
and Linux. Users can utilize any system in the domain, and they can access
their customized desktop with the applications defined for them by the
adminstrator. The administrator can centrally manage and distribute machine
definitions, user assignments to applications, and controlled desktop
environments." (Thanks to Lenz Grimmer).
Wave Technologies acquires Sair. Wave Technologies, a training
concern, has announced
the acquisition of Sair Inc., one of the competing Linux professional
certification organizations. They aim to create a larger organization
offering a full range of training and certification services. This move
further differentiates Sair from the Linux Professional Institute, which has an
explicit policy of not getting into the training arena.
Wave's stock, of course, went through the roof on the announcement.
Atipa announces new offices. Atipa Linux Solutions has announced
the opening of new offices in New York, San Francisco and Austin.
Evidently more are to come in the future.
GraphOn Bridges to be integrated into Corel Linux. Press releases
have come out from both GraphOn
announcing that GraphOn's "Bridges" product will be bundled into Corel
Linux. Bridges allows Linux users to connect to a Windows PC and run
Linux wannabe press release of the week. NetCurrents has put out this
press release just to make sure the world knows that it uses Linux.
"In order to continue to improve the functionality of NetCurrents'
proprietary technology and support the expanded range of services being
offered to its clients, the Company will continue to expand its use of the
Linux operating system." The company is presumably hoping for a boost
in the price of its stock (currently at $2 1/2) as a result...
Speaking of wannabes, here's the
latest PR from LinuxOne. "The Agreement grants Supercom a
non-exclusive, worldwide right to use, sell, reproduce and distribute
'LinuxOne OS', LinuxOne's premier software product." Given that the GPL
(and other licenses applying to LinuxOne's copy of Red Hat's distribution)
grant all of those rights to anybody, one would hope that Supercom didn't
pay a whole lot for this agreement...
Section Editor: Jon Corbet.
Open Souce Products:
Inprise Corporation announced that it plans to jump to the
forefront of the Linux database market by open-sourcing InterBase 6,
the new version of its cross-platform SQL database.
- Quicknet Technologies, Inc.
announced the open source release of their Linux device drivers
for the company's Internet PhoneJACK, Internet LineJACK, and Internet
PhoneCARD Telephone Cards. The device driver code is released under the GNU
Public License (GPL) and has been accepted for inclusion in the latest
Linux kernel distribution.
ScreamingMedia announced that ScreamingMedia's SiteWare is
included on the Red Hat Linux 6.1 application CD.
Commercial Products for Linux:
CorVu announced the availability of its "Enterprise Business
Performance Management, Balanced Scorecard and Business Intelligence
applications" for Linux.
Earthweb announced the publication of a set of Linux courseware,
available for purchase at the end of the month.
- The Linux Professional Institute has announced the availability of its first Linux professional
Merlin Software announced the availability of an alpha version of
"HotWire Fax" - a facsimile system - for Linux. It's available for
free download, but does not appear to be free software.
Multi-User Solutions announced a porting service for companies
that want help moving their software to Linux.
New Mexico Software announced that it will begin shipping its
Internet infrastructure technology with Red Hat Linux, beginning
February 2, 2000.
Perle Systems announced its intention to provide comprehensive
Linux support across its complete range of serial connectivity and RAS
Proginet Corporation announced the release of its CyberFusion
Internet information movement software product for the Linux operating
Vertel announced the availability of its "e*ORB" system, "the
first commercially available Object Request Broker (ORB) optimized
specifically for the telecommunications industry."
Products Using Linux:
IChargeit announced that it is now selling low-end Linux-installed
systems, starting at $399.
Access Co. Ltd. announced an agreement with Sun Microsystems to
establish Access as a provider of an authorized Java compatible
Espial, a provider of embedded Java technology for Internet
appliances and Tao Group, a provider of Java virtual machine
technologies, announced they will collaborate to offer a complete
Java-based solution for the multimedia and interactive entertainment
- Servertec announced a new release of iServer, a small, fast,
scalable and easy to administer platform independent Application/Web
Server written entirely in JavaTM.
Products with Linux Versions:
BulletProof Corporation released a beta version of JDesignerPro
4.0 with support for building wireless enterprise applications.
CyberStar Computer Corporation announced that they have chosen
Intel to supply the main component platform of their new Rack mount
server for Internet Service Providers.
Dot Hill Systems Corp. announced that it has shipped over 100
units of its SANnet product. SANnet is the company's carrier-class
Fujitsu Siemens Computers launched a new version of its
WebTransaction middleware software to allow organizations to
web-enable their complex mainframe applications, and integrate their
existing host data with HTML, XML and Java technologies. A Linux
version should be available soon.
KL Group Inc. announced the release of XRT/gauge, a comprehensive
collection of widgets, comprising seven dials and gauges.
Optio Software Inc. announced the availability of OptioDCS for Red
Rainbow Technologies announced that the company has integrated
support for Linux throughout the company's CryptoSwift eCommerce
acceleration solutions and Rainbow's SentinelLM software license
REALAX AG announced that all its software products for Virtual
Reality and 3D visualization will soon be available on Linux.
Systar announced its plans for a new version of OmniVision for Red
Hat Linux scheduled for release in mid-2000.
White Pine Software, Inc. announced that it is shipping a new
version of the MeetingPoint conference server with support for Red Hat
Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:
1mage Software, Inc. announced the sale of its Linux-based imaging
system to Plastic Dress-Up Co. (PDU). PDU's installation of 1MAGE
will run on Red Hat Linux.
Allaire Corporation and MERANT announced a strategic agreement to
integrate MERANT's DataDirect technology with the new Linux versions
Applix announced a partnership with LinuxIT, one of Europe's
largest Linux software resellers and distributors. LinuxIT will be the
distributor of the Applixware office automation software for Linux.
Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Automated Learning and
Discovery (CALD) received a $560,000 gift of equipment from IBM
Corp. DB2 on Linux is included among data management software
Corel announced the acquisition of a 30% stake in Newlix, an
Ottawa-based company that produces Linux-based server software.
Flame Petro-Minerals Corp. acquired LinuxWizardry, Inc.
LinuxWizardry, Inc. has commenced building a Linux-based, low-cost
router that provides a simple drag-and-drop JAVA user interface for
configuration protocol routing called the "LinuxWizardry Router."
Hartcourt Companies Inc. announced that it has reached an
agreement with Swartz Private Equity, LLC of Atlanta, for an
additional $10 million equity line funding, thus increasing the total
funding from Swartz to $35 million. The reason for the increase was
the planned acquisition of a Linux Internet operation in China.
iEntertainment Network announced it will launch a co-branded
gaming site with Red Hat, Inc.
Infomatec AG has formed a strategic alliance with the UK software
and IT services company, Pericom Plc. The new agreement enables the
Augsburg Software Group to offer terminal-emulation for IBM 3270E and
5250E terminals for its Linux-based platform Java Network Technology.
Liberate Technologies and TiVo, Inc. announced that they have
signed a definitive licensing agreement to incorporate Liberate's TV
Navigator on future versions of TiVo's Linux-based Personal TV
Linuxcare, Inc. and VMware, Inc. announced a partnership to share
their technical and marketing expertise.
Microtest Inc. and Micro Design International Inc. announced a
long-term integrator partnership. The initial products to be
integrated will include Microtest's Linux-based products: DiscZerver,
an integration-ready, optical storage imaging appliance, and
LinuxZerver, a customizable, high-performance, network-attached
application delivery platform.
MODCOMP Inc. announced the award of a contract with UCAR
International to upgrade their industrial process control computer
system. MODCOMP will use it's Linux version of ScadaBase.
Rare Ventures announced it has invested in Quicknet Technologies,
Inc. Quicknet's products include the Internet PhoneJACK and Internet
PhoneCARD hardware and the Internet SwitchBoard software for Windows
and Linux PCs.
RSA Security Inc. announced that Macmillan USA, Inc. has signed an
agreement to license RSA Security software for use in a Linux-based
secure Web server the publisher plans to include in several of its
upcoming Linux software products.
Andover.Net announced the expansion of its products and promotions
for ThinkGeek, the site for
Linux/Open Source-related products.
- Applix, Inc.
announces the launch of a new web site, www.SmartBeak.com, designed to bring
together the support and collaboration needs of Open Source Software
developers and users.
CMP Media, Inc. announced that its upcoming Computer Telephony
Expo Spring 2000 (March 7 - 9 at the Los Angeles Convention Center),
will feature a three-day IP Telephony for the Enterprise conference.
Topics include the future impact of Linux in IP telephony.
CNET announced the launch of its
CNET Linux Center, "the ultimate Linux destination." Thus far it
looks like a repackaging of their (considerable) Linux news content.
- Cygnus Solutions - now owned by Red Hat, has
announced a software development environment for the Nintendo
EBIZ Enterprises, Inc. announced that Jeffrey Rassas, CEO and
founder of EBIZ Enterprises, is currently featured on Wall Street NewsCast
(click on "new interviews"). Mr. Rassas discusses the evolution and
future of the Linux operating system and TheLinuxStore.com.
GraphOn Corporation reported record revenues for 1999.
Maxspeed Corporation, a provider of Linux desktop devices,
announced the appointment of John I. ("Jack") Anderson as Chief
Financial Officer. Mr. Anderson joins Maxspeed from VA Linux Systems.
Red Hat Europe announced the "Red Hat Certified Reseller
Programme." As far as can be told from the press release, membership
in this program means that the reseller has at least one "Red Hat
Certified Engineer" on its staff.
TurboLinux claims to be the number one operating system platform
in China for the past four months.
TurboLinux announced the availability in China of nationwide
TurboLinux Certified Engineer training courses. The curriculum, three
initial courses designed to prepare students to meet Linux
Professional Institute (LPI) certification standards, will be offered
in China's 10 largest cities through a network of 15 authorized
UC Berkeley Extension will offer two short courses in programming
for the "real" world: "Real-Time Programming for Embedded Systems" and
"32-Bit Real-Time Operating Systems with an Emphasis on Linux."
- UKLINUX.NET, claiming to be "the UK's first ISP specifically
aimed at users of Linux and other Open Source/Free Software," has
announced its existence. All profits will be put back into the
free software community.
Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.
January 13, 2000