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MicroTimes: Bay Area a Haven for Linux Vendors

Jul 29, 1999, 17:59 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Carr)

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"If the Bay Area isn't the center of the Linux systems hardware universe, it must be a large universe indeed. With at least seven local companies selling PCs pre-loaded with Linux, the Bay Area is clearly an 'in' place for Linux hardware developers."

"Extensive searches on the Web revealed just a dozen or so non-Bay Area vendors of pre-configured Linux systems, a small number considering the growing popularity of the free, open-source Linux operating system (OS)."

"While many Linux hardware vendors nest in the Bay Area, Linux OS software vendors are scattered across the country. The biggest vendors of Linux 'distribution' packages including Red Hat Software Inc., Durham, NC, which markets Red Hat 6.2, and Caldera Inc., Orem, UT, which distributes OpenLinux 1.2. But the Bay Area can boast of a major player even in this market. The third principal Linux vendor, SuSE (, Nuremberg, Germany, has an Oakland-based division selling a variety of pre-configured Linux systems."

"The Bay Area also boasts a key Linux resource: people who really know the OS. Two local pioneers, Larry Augustine and Jeff Nguyen, got involved with the operating system while at electronic design software-automation software firm Fintronics in the early 1990s. Linux offered them a way to run a reliable, high-performance UNIX-like environment - and Fintronics's chip-design software - on low-cost Intel-based PCs rather than high-end UNIX systems. Red Hat Linux, one of the more popular commercial version of this operating system, is available from most Bay Area Linux resellers and systems houses."

"That the Bay Area in general - and Silicon Valley in particular - should become a center of Linux systems vendors is no big shock, says Augustine, now president and CEO of VA Linux Systems. 'We're at about 105 people, up from 17 to 20 in November [1998],' he says, 'and where else can you go to get the type of people and the resources you need to run this type of business?'"

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