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New UnitedLinux Emphasizes Enterprise, Cooperation

May 30, 2002, 17:01 (30 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt,
Managing Editor

Representatives from the four distribution companies involved in UnitedLinux have formally announced the initiative in a press conference this morning.

The companies--Caldera, Conectiva, SuSE,and TurboLinux--were joined in the conference by several representatives from their industry partners, including IBM, Borland, Computer Associates, Fujitsu-Siemens, and The New HP to announce the development of the enterprise-level distribution UnitedLinux.

The new UnitedLinux distro will be targeted for business and enterprise-level platforms and will feature a single, unified code base that combines select packages of all of the participating distributions. Each distro market and sell UnitedLinux under their own brands, though each will carry a "Powered by UnitedLinux" logo.

One of the new spins in the announcement that differed from earlier reports were several statements that UnitedLinux was not designed to compete against Red Hat.

"UnitedLinux is not a movement that is anti-Red Hat," stated Ly-Huong Pham, CEO and President of TurboLinux.

All of the company representatives emphasized this point by saying that Red Hat is more than welcome to join the UnitedLinux consortium. Ransom Love, President and CEO of Caldera International, told the gathered members of the press and analysts that Red Hat and Mandrake-Linux, while not originally invited to be a part of UnitedLinux's initial framework, were contacted yesterday and this morning to begin talks with for each of these organizations to join the United Linux effort as well.

Love described Red Hat's Michael Evans' first reaction as "very positive."

All of the companies involved also strongly emphasized the potential benefits to the enterprise level customer that UnitedLinux could bring. Community involvement, however, will be minimized somewhat, since the "Powered by UnitedLinux" distributions will be aimed soley at the enterprise.

In fact, SuSE representatives confirmed that both the SuSE Personal and SuSE Professional releases would remain intact and would not fall under the UnitedLinux umbrella.

Speaking with Holger Dyroff, SuSE's U.S. Director of Sales, after the conference call, it was learned that while SuSE Personal and Professional would remain sepeate from UnitedLinux, because of SuSE's role as systems integrator of UnitedLinux's codebase, much of the same functionality in UnitedLinux would find its way back to SuSE's retail line-up. Dyroff speculated that the same would be true for Conectiva's retail offerings as well.

Dyroff also down-played speculation that Red Hat was a competitor to Red Hat Linux. "We would absolutely welcome Red Hat to join the UnitedLinux inititive." Linux's main competition, he added, was Microsoft and Sun's Solaris, not each other.

During the meeting, it was also revealed that SuSE would also hold the role of maintaining quality assurance for UnitedLinux, which slightly alters earlier reports that QA would be handled by the other three distributions in the consortium. Instead, SuSE will act as systems integrator and QA, while the other companies will work on development in key areas of UnitedLinux.

Another technical fact that was revealed was that UnitedLinux's default GUI would be KDE. This comes as little surprise, given SuSE's long adherance to that desktop environment. GNOME would be included as well, Dyroff added, but the core GUI help and control apps would be KDE-based.

The work on UnitedLinux has been going on for about two months, according to Love, who stated that a joint-development team from SuSE and Caldera has already been at work on the new code. An alpha release of UnitedLinux is expected to made available (to industry partners only) in June.

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