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Slackware Commercial Distribution Left in Doubt as Developers Are Laid Off

Apr 17, 2001, 20:05 (82 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

By Michael Hall, LinuxToday

Commercial distribution for Slackware has been left in a precarious position by the recent acquisition of the software assets of its parent company BSDi (now part of Wind River).

UserLocal reported yesterday that several core Slackware developers had been laid off by the company left behind by the acquisition: server manufacturer iXsystems. Though the developers said they'll continue to work on Slackware, they won't be drawing a pay check to do so.

According to Slackware project head Patrick Volkerding, who'd earlier said he hoped the acquisition would leave the distribution untouched, the layoffs are the result of the terms of the acquisition and resulting spinoff of iXsystems:

"BSDi (formerly Walnut Creek CDROM, our long-time publisher) was bought by Wind River because they wanted the BSD assets for use in embedded devices. They do not like Linux or the GPL one iota, so we all essentially became "orphaned" when they showed no interest in bringing us over."

Volkerding's assessment of Wind River's attitude is borne out by statements made in the Wind River FAQ on the acquisition and a recent report in LinuxGram that quoted Wind River Vice President John Foeglin as saying companies "fear the GPL" because of its requirements to share modifications to GPL-licensed source code.

"The hardware side of the company (iXsystems) did have some interest in publishing Slackware," said Volkerding, " and for a week or so we thought the whole team would regroup under their umbrella, but it turned out that the deal prohibits them from selling software."

In the mean time, work continues on Slackware, which isn't tied to commercial distribution, and Volkerding said he hopes to start a new Slackware company, "but until [the project gets] this next release out, the money is going to be tight. Slackware has always been profitable though, and I sincerely hope we'll have the resources soon to help support the rest of the team."

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