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Linux and Business

What should we expect from commercial distributions?. LinuxOrbit carried an article this week covering LinuxMandrake's release of their 7.2 distribution. In the article the author talks about Mandrake's decision to include the last KDE beta (version 1.99) in their latest box set instead of the official 2.0 release. This decision is said to have been made to meet Linux-Mandrake's shipping deadlines.

Did I say KDE 2.0? Oops, I meant to say KDE 1.99. See, MandrakeSoft had to have its new retail OS ready to ship to stores by a certain date, and in order to do so, they stuck KDE's final beta in the box, instead of waiting for the final release. That's not very good business practice in my book. Now, in MandrakeSoft's defense, they did put the version containing the full KDE 2.0 release in later boxed sets, and on their FTP site. There was also a notation on the packaging, stating that it contained the beta version of KDE 2.0, but those things can't help you when you when you are ordering off the web, or if you don't have fast web access

Not a good business practice? That seems a bit much. It will prove difficult for commercial distributions to arrange to have 3 or 4 thousand open source projects make their projects' public releases coincide with the distributions' own shipping schedules. Most projects don't have anyone in charge to set schedules, not to mention developers interested in actually adhering to them.

Of course distributors can't get the latest version of each package in every release. Linux projects don't follow each others' release cycles, much less those of individual distributors. Buyers of packaged distributions must expect that some distributions will come with beta versions of some popular software. In the long run many Linux distributions may begin to focus on key projects such as KDE and GNOME and base releases primarily around those projects. However, neither KDE or GNOME is ready to meet specific deadlines yet, so consumers will still see some rough edges in some of the most important pieces of the total package. Hard though it may be to swallow, it's the truth: open software is no better at releasing public versions than commercial software. At least not yet.

But expecting Linux distributions to be able to match the moving targets that are open source release dates is unreasonable. Who, for example, could have know it would take almost 2 years to make the final 1.2 release of the GIMP?

HarperBusiness Signs Book By Linux Creator. HarperBusiness, a division of HarperCollins, announced that it will publish a book by Linus Torvalds. Torvalds will give an inside account of how he came to write the Linux kernel in JUST FOR FUN: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary, co-written with David Diamond, to be published by HarperBusiness in 2001.

Interwoven releases TclPro as open source. As had been hoped, Interwoven (the company that acquired Ajuba Solutions) has released TclPro under the BSD license. Source is available now on SourceForge.

Europe votes against software patents - for now. Here's a bulletin from the EuroLinux Alliance (also available in French) stating that most of the countries of the European Patent Convention have voted against extending patent protection to software. This is an important victory, but it's not yet the end of the story. Now the European Commission will continue its consultation on software patents, at which point the issue will be considered again.

IBM, Linux, and Structural Bioinformatics. Here is an announcement from IBM that it has made an (undisclosed) equity investment in a company called Structural Bioinformatics. Not coincidentally, said company has announced that its future developments will be done using IBM's DB2 on Linux. DB2 will be handling a substantial job - there's over two terabytes of protein structure data to be managed.

5NINE Announces WAPLinux.org. 5NINE announced the launch of WAPLinux.org, an open source development project for modifying the Linux kernel to fully support the Wireless Application (WAP) protocol and bearers such as the Short Message Service (SMS), Mobitex and third generation (3G) technologies such as the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS).

EBIZ Announces 37% Revenue Increase for 1st Quarter. EBIZ Enterprises Inc., a vendor-neutral Linux solutions provider, announced a 37% increase in revenues, 46% increase in gross profit margin and a 60% decrease in losses for its fiscal first-quarter which ended Sept. 30, 2000 compared to the 4th quarter of fiscal 2000 which ended June 30, 1999.

SGI OpenGL Performer 2.4. SGI announced the OpenGL Performer 2.4 application programming interface (API) upgrade for both IRIX and Linux operating systems.

Oracle Gets Top Marks in Linux Database Survey. Zona Research, Inc. posted polling results that show Oracle8i(TM) is the Linux database of choice for e-business. A survey of 109 IT professionals found that Oracle8i ranked highest in Linux database deployments over nearest-rival IBM.

Open Motif ported to IA64 TurboLinux. ICS has ported Open Motif to run on Intel's IA64 (Itanium) architecture running TurboLinux. (Thanks to Mark Hatch)

Oracle pushes NIC for Christmas. "In time for holiday shopping" The New Internet Computer Company has put out this press release on what a great deal the (Linux-based) NIC Internet Computer is. Linux is now being pushed as a Christmas present...

Press Releases:

Commercial Products for Linux

  • Micro Firmware, Inc. (NORMAN, Okla.) announced the availability of its ATA PRO UDMA card, a 32-bit PCI Personal Computer add-in card with two UDMA-100/Ultra ATA-100 IDE interfaces. Driver support for Linux is freely available.

  • The Random Factory released the first in their series of Linux for Biotechnology CD sets.

  • Sangoma announced support for RFC compliant ethernet bridging over Frame Relay.

Products and Services Using Linux

  • Forlink Software Corp. (BEIJING, China) has become the number one local mail system provider in China, according to the results of CCID Consulting's most recent market survey on enterprise-scale mail systems.

  • Performance Technologies, Inc. and Motorola Computer Group (ROCHESTER, N.Y. and TEMPE, Ariz.) announced they are working on high availability SS7/IP- signaling gateway solutions for Motorola's Aspira systems. PTI will integrate its MicroLegend SS7/IP distributed software architecture stack and CompactPCI CPC380 network I/O access modules with MCG's high-availability, Linux-based, CompactPCI CPX8216 hardware platform for use in wireless systems being built for Motorola's Aspira architecture.

  • Trustix AS (TRONDHEIM, Norway) announced the release of XSentry Firewall 1.5, a network security administration firewall.

Products with Linux Versions

  • Artificial Life (BOSTON) announced the release of a new data mining product: ALife-Logator. The product is designed to help companies analyze the natural language conversation log files of their client discourses with the Artificial Life software robots, such as ALife Webguide.

  • Evans & Sutherland (SALT LAKE CITY) announced that the company's PC-based image generator, simFUSION, now has the capability to run SGI's IRIS Performer software.

  • T3 Software Builders, Inc. (ROCKVILLE, Md.) announced the release of SiteMaestro which is used monitor computer systems and networks using a web browser.

Books and Training

  • Hungry Minds (NEW YORK), formerly IDG Books Worldwide, published Red Hat Linux 7 Bible, Unlimited Edition. The first in a series of Unlimited Editions, this 900 page book will be updated on the web on a continuing basis.


  • Axis Communications (LUND, Sweden) announced three technology partnerships in which Axis' technology platform is to be sold for use in safety and security services via broadband, in industrial applications based on Bluetooth, and for mobile positioning. The customers are Trygghetsbolaget, Free2move and Translogic Consulting & Service.

  • GraphOn Corp. (MORGAN HILL, Calif.) announced it has signed an OEM licensing agreement with Caelus Inc. to web enable the Caelus Management System suite of software products using GraphOn's Bridges software.

  • iMimic Networking Inc. (HOUSTON) announced a license agreement for the Web Caching software with Cintel Co., Ltd, a Korean company.

  • Metro Link (FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) announced it has been selected to become a premiere partner in ATI Technologies, Inc. Technology Access Program (TAP).

  • Multi-User Solutions (ATLANTA), a subsidiary of Computone Corporation, announced that its has finalized an agreement with UnionBuiltBox to provide on-site services to customers of UnionBuiltBox's Linux based Athlon computers throughout North America.

  • RedWire (London, UK) RedWire Limited anounced it has signed a Distribution / Partnership agreement with Pyramid Computer Systems of Germany.

  • SGI (MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) and AEA Technology announced that they are cooperating to provide solutions for fluid flow analysis compatible with the 64-bit Itanium processors.

  • StorNet, Inc. and Legato Systems, Inc. (ENGLEWOOD, Colo. and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) announced that they have extended their relationship under Legato's Premier Enterprise Solution Partnership program to add new networked storage services and products designed for SAN and NAS environments.

Investments and Acquisitions

  • EnReach Technology, Inc. (LOS ANGELES) announced today an investment from Sojecci Ltee, the former majority shareholder of Le Groupe Videotron Ltee (Videotron), a Canadian cable operator.


  • ArsDigita Corporation (CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) announced it has named Richard McNulty its Chief People Officer. In this newly created position, Richard McNulty will ensure that ArsDigita continues to attract, develop and retain personnel throughout its organization.

  • Caldera Systems announed that Samba project co-founder and ex-TurboLinux executive John Terpstra has joined Caldera as technology vice president and OEM strategist.

  • CollabNet (BRISBANE, Calif.) announced that it has named Ken Comee Vice President of Worldwide Sales for the company.

  • VA Linux Systems (FREMONT, Calif.) announced that it has named Gary Green as vice president of strategic sales.


  • Linbox is working together with DemoBox, a an organization that produces CD-ROMs that enable users to run Linux without installing it, to produce a turnkey LNA solution for business, based on a DemoLinux's bootable CD-ROM, that automatically installs a server-centric network architecture.

  • Linux2Order (PROVO, UT) announced it is on target to surpass 9,000 titles by the end of the year.

  • Open Country has launched a web site targeted at providing rewards for home/small office users of Linux that have written programs that they might want to share with fellow users.

  • Red Hat (RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.) announced that new economy companies are using Red Hat Linux Enterprise Edition for Oracle 8i.

  • Xybernaut (FAIRFAX, Va.) Chairman and CEO Edward Newman was invited by the Peoples Republic of China's (PRC) intellectual property body, its media and press to speak on the future of world technology and the importance of intellectual property policies and procedures.

Section Editor: Michael J. Hammel.

November 30, 2000


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