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When Four Become One: UnitedLinux

The Birth of UnitedLinux

  • May 29, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

Today, four distibution companies--SuSE, Caldera, TurboLinux, and Conectiva--are planning to formally announce the formation of a single UnitedLinux distribution, which is tentatively planned to be released at the end of 2002.

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 will likely feature the same libraries and same installation tools as the others, though the technical details have not been ironed out yet.

But that is where the unification stops, according to information released to analysts in a meeting yesterday morning. Each distribution company will market, sell, and package their own versions of UnitedLinux under their respective labels.

And, though the code base for UnitedLinux will be the same, each company will have the option of inserting their own value-added software into their own releases.

The primary reasons for combining the resources of these four companies are both technical and financial. One major technical benefit will be a unified code base that will make it much easier for independent software vendors (ISVs) to port applications to the new UnitedLinux. This is significant because one of the major sponsors of this consrtia is IBM, a company that could bring in a whole slew of ISVs.

According to Aberdeen Group's Bill Claybrook, who was part of the analysts' meeting yesterday, a major financial benefit will come from the fact that four companies will no longer be using up their resources building distros that would compete with each other instead of with the dominant seller of Linux, Red Hat.

"It was pretty silly for them to produce distrbutions that were so similar to each other," Claybrook said.

The announcement, which will be made at 11 p.m. EDT time this morning, is expected to outline the project and introduce the four founding members of the UnitedLinux group. Both Claybrook and other sources confirmed that this will by no means be an exclusive club.

"I'm not sure if Mandrake will join," Claybrook speculated, "but they might."

The project thus far has been relatively smooth, though one source who spoke under the condition of anonymity hinted that the timing of this announcement may have been moved up rather abruptly due to the losses reported in Caldera International's 2Q report this week.

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