"Augustin's strategy looks solid. Rather than shipping computers
to companies and leaving them with the complex task of making them
work well with the software, VA Linux actually loads all the
programs its customers plan on using and tests the system to make
sure it runs smoothly. Augustin devised a hybrid of the
strategies of two very successful companies, Sun Microsystems and
Dell Computer. Like Dell, VA Linux builds computers to order and
can do it very efficiently. And like Sun, his company integrates
software with the hardware. 'You've got build-to-order
hardware. Why not build-to-order software? It's a great opportunity
for us,' says Augustin."
"Customers seem to like having their computers and software
delivered this way. VA Linux has landed high-profile dot-coms like
Akamai and eBay. It supplies powerful systems to the National
Laboratories and to large pharmaceutical companies. And its systems
are especially well suited to the needs of Internet service
providers. One of its models -- shaped like a pizza box -- is
designed to slip effortlessly into racks so ISPs can quickly add
computing power as soon as they need it."
"But Augustin knows that he can't beat computer giants like Dell
over the long term by delivering commodity hardware. That's why
he's trying to make VA Linux the spiritual godfather of the
so-called Open Source community. Last year, he launched a Web
portal, Linux.com, that's a gathering place for people interested
in getting hold of free software and sharing thoughts about Linux.
Early this year, he established another site, called
SourceForge.com, that offers programmers tools and a place to
manage their collaborative projects. And on Feb. 3, he paid about
$650 million in stock and cash for Andover.Net, a Massachusetts
company that operates a handful of Web sites aimed at Open Source
practitioners -- including the immensely popular Slashdot.org news
and commentary site."
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